Q. I lick my paws way too much and it is driving my mom crazy! She has tried oregano oil but it is really expensive and is stinking up the house and my feet are smelly from licking them so much. Do you have any suggestions??? Thanks, Robbie Burns, West Highland White Terrier, Extraordinaire.
A. Excessive paw licking, biting, and/or constant scratching is often a sign of food allergies. Sometimes pets develop allergies toward their diet. Paw biting, excessive licking, ear scratching and belly licking can all be signs that their diets are starting to aggravate them.
Various meat proteins, food preservatives, and additives or fillers when ingested may cause itchy skin disease or intestinal disease in domestic animals. This is an acquired allergic reaction and often a dog may have been eating the same food for months or years before any problems arise.
There is currently no accurate blood or skin test to tell if your dog has food allergies. The only method is by avoidance and challenge -- a process of elimination.
To determine if your dog may have a food allergy, you can try putting them on a carefully selected hypoallergenic diet. Studies have shown that, in most cases, the allergen can be diagnosed after your pooch has been placed on a selected diet for 8-10 weeks.
Have a chat with your vet about food allergies and change your pooches’ diet. Find a different protein source (beef & chicken are often the main culprits) that your pet has not be exposed to before. It may be the key to ridding him of itchy toes and feet!
Q. We recently noticed that our dog, a neutered male, isn’t just sniffing in the grass, but that he licks other dogs’ pee. He doesn’t see where the dog went to the bathroom, but he can smell it and goes straight to it. He will lick the grass and then foam at the mouth a little bit, or his tongue will poke out and his lips will quiver. Once he’s on the trail there’s no stopping him. Is this really gross? Why does he do this and how can we get him to stop?
A. When a dog licks another dog’s urine, they are using an organ in the roof of their mouth that allows them to not only smell the scent, but to also taste it.
It helps them to analyze the scent in a more in-depth way. They are then able to tell whether the urine is male or female and even if the dog is in season or not. Your dog can determine if it is a young or old dog and even tell if the urine is coming from one of his friends. Your precious pooch drools or foams, and chatters his mouth to help him “waffle” the scent around in order to better identify the depositor of this pee!
While most humans view this as disgusting behavior, and thankfully don’t posses this unique trait, urine itself is sterile and therefore not really harmful to a dog, so don’t panic! Your kidlet is only doing something that comes totally naturally to him: checking out his environment the best way he knows. While it may seem totally gross to humans, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than humans, and all your dog wants to do is sniff out his world and locate where his friends are hanging out! Stop panicking and go with the flow.