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Excessive licking in dogs and cats

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Every dog will lick their paws and cats groom themselves. They do it for a variety of reasons, the most common is normal grooming. For example, there are dogs that seem not to mind dirty feet and others that cannot tolerate it. There are cats that love to roll in dust and sand and some that would never do it.

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However, licking feet in dogs and excessive grooming in cats can be a sign of other issues. The best way to determine why a dog licks his feet or excessive grooming in a cat is to keep a log of when they do it and for how long.

Here are some of the other reasons why a dog will lick their feet or a cat will
groom themselves excessively.

Anxiety: A dog who has developed the habit of licking his feet as a soothing behavior will continue to do so even when the situation that caused the anxiety is removed. Cats also groom themselves as a calming behavior. It is similar to the habits that people develop for the same reasons, such as biting one’s nails, twisting a strand of hair, etc.

Allergies and other skin problems: Dogs and cats that have allergies to one or more ingredients in their food or airborne allergies may lick their feet or groom excessively Dogs will do this even if licking their feet causes the skin to become raw and sores develop. Your veterinarian may suggest that you see a canine dermatologist.

Dry skin: This can be caused by the weather, outdoor conditions such as mud, snow, water and a lack of fat in the dog or cat’s diet. Dry skin is more common in the winter when artificial heat dries the air in the house.

Boredom: Dogs and cats will sometimes develop the habit of licking their feet or grooming excessively out of boredom. This is better prevented by making sure your dog and cat have enough interactive toys while you are away from home and lots of exercise when you are home.

Hormonal imbalance: A chemical problem such as a hormone imbalance can cause a licking problem.

Pain: This is probably one of the most common reasons why a dog will lick their feet (and other parts of their body) and a cat will groom excessively. If your dog or cat is older and has not engaged in excessive licking before, a veterinarian exam is in order. As pets age they get aches and pains just like humans. If they become arthritic in their toes, or other joins, they may tend to lick those areas. If a dog has pain they may also bite at the area. Always be sure that your dog or cat did not step on a thorn or get a bee sting which can cause them to pick on that area.

Fleas: Both dogs and cats will bite and lick themselves if they have fleas. Using a flea comb around the dog or cat’s tail will indicate if they have fleas or not. If you get little black dots on the flea comb, put one in a drop of water and if it turns blood red, it is flea droppings. If there are flea droppings it means that your pet is infested (and most likely your house too) with fleas.

All in all, if you examine your cat or dog and cannot find a reason for them to lick or bite or excessively groom, it is time to take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup. By treating the problem early, you can often cure or control it before it gets out of hand.

It is very important that you have your dog or cat on a high quality food. In my opinion the food that is available at discount stores and supermarkets are not the highest quality food you can feed your dog. I like either Wysong or Annamaet.

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