Have you ever wondered why bully breed dogs lick their paws? Paw licking, sucking, and biting can be the result of many different things. Let's explore each potential cause of your paw epidemic and the possible treatments to end it. American bullys, French bulldogs, American bulldogs, English bulldogs and Pit bull breeds all fall on the list of breeds with the most skin problems. Virtually 100% of paw lickers are either purebred or crossbred. Dogs who are considered "mutts", or are made up of various breeds, account for less than 5% of paw lickers.
Licking can be a sign of injury. Make sure to rule out open cuts , injury, or broken bones, if your pet is paying close attention to one paw. If there is no sign of injury present and a single paw is being licked, this usually points to a psychological factor. If all paws are being licked, signs are most likely pointing to an allergy or environmental trigger.
No matter what the cause for your dogs licking and chewing sensation, it all ends up with the same problem. This is a licking sound that drives you nuts. They often lick their paws raw, or chew off hair, leaving their paws unsightly and extremely soar. Left untreated, this can lead to serious consequences including infections, and permanent hair loss. Infections will then cause them to lick even more out of instinct to cure their infection, and the cycle goes on and on.
Addiction. Did you know that when you pet licks their endorphin levels are raised ? Your dog may be addicted to the opiate like feeling their brain is producing from them licking. The goal is the find a solution to the licking before your pet becomes addicted to the sensation they get from their licking high.
Your dog may just be a compulsive licker. Some dogs are bored or feel useless. Licking their paws gives them something to do, it becomes their "Job". Find activities for your dog to do. You may just find that giving your dog something better to do ends this habit. Take your dog for walks, interact with them, and give them ample attention and this may help end their addiction to their paws.
Is your dog a nervous creature? He may be licking out of anxiety. In this case something will trigger your dog to begin the behavior of licking or chewing at their paws. Vets will often suggest a muzzle or cone around your dogs head to try to keep them from reaching their paws. If this is indeed a stress issue, the muzzle or cone is only going to further stress them out and they aren't going to understand why they are being punished. Leading to further anxiety and stress. Your better option is to soothe their nervousness. Turn on the TV or radio when you leave the house. Sound reduces your dogs stress level, because it drowns out the scary outside noises they may obsess over until you return. Assure them you're coming back and try not to sneak out unnoticed. Once they realize your gone, they are going to panic. Give them something to occupy their time while you're gone. Soft chew toys will give them something to focus on while watching Animal Planet, and the time you're away will go much faster.
Paw licking or chewing may be an environmental cause. Your dog may be experiencing an allergic relation to something. The first things to rule out in your household are things you have recently changed before the behavior began. Did you recently change the soap you wash the dogs bed in, a new carpet cleaning product etc.? If nothing has changed in your household environment, the usual culprit is your dogs diet. Many popular dog food products contain corn wheat, and other grains which are known allergy causes in dogs. The meat by-products contained within the mass produced dog foods, come from animals that have been fed growth hormones, antibiotics, and liquid methane to produce a cheaper faster useable product. Because so many unhealthy agents are put into mass produced dog foods, they are accountable for huge numbers of skin and allergic relations within dogs.
Many vets are not ready to change their thought process to agree that a raw diet is the proper way to feed a dog. Sadly the vets would prefer to prescribe you unnecessary, and in most cases ineffective, expensive prescriptions to manage your dogs allergies. However a natural raw diet for dogs in most cases will cure your pet of his allergic reactions, and skin problems. Raw diets contain no bi-products, no corn, wheat, or grain. They do however, have a much higher protein ratio. Within a few weeks of switching to a raw diet you will see an overall improvement in your dogs appearance, and more importantly his health. Many American Bully owners have already switched to a raw diet, and have spread the word throughout the community on all the good it has done for their dogs. Talk to a friend and you will be surprised to learn how many people have made the switch, and speak very highly of it.
Pesticides in your yard or garden can often irritate your dogs feet, causing serious allergies and reactions. Try to use minimal pesticides in areas your dogs have access to. Even pet friendly products can cause allergic reactions.
Your dog may have allergies just like humans to pollen and other seasonal allergens. Your dog may even be allergic to your grass! Allergic reactions to inhaled allergens will likely result in other areas of your dogs body being affected, like their face, abdomen, and genitals. To treat these types of allergies, Benadryl is usually the safest method of treatment for dogs. Check with your vet for proper dosage per your dogs weight. A good topical treatment to use, is to dip your pets feet in a bucket of water mixed with baking soda whenever they come inside from the yard. This removes any pollen and soothes their dry itchy paws. 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of water is the correct measurement if you want to give this method a try.
If you prefer an Herbal approach to your fight against paw licking and sucking, Green Tea or Sage Tea soaks can relieve skin irritation and prevent swelling. Dogs sweat from their feet. To prepare your tea, simply boil a cup of tea, allow it to cool and soak or wash your dogs feet with the tea. Sage is an antiperspirant so it will reduce the wetness, swelling, bacteria, and itching on your dogs paws. Make sure to pat dry your dogs feet if using this method. Warning Green tea can stain carpets so if you are trying this method make sure your dogs paws are completely dry before letting him run threw your living room! Rinsing you dogs paws with water after applying the tea would negate the process, you need to let the tea absorb and dry into your dogs paws.
Fungal infections on your dogs feet can only be diagnosed by a vet. They often closely resemble allergies or bacterial infections. A simple blood test or skin scraping can quickly narrow down the suspect list, and rule out genetic disorders, to help come up with the best treatment plan. Fungal infection treatments, are prescribed oral medications. Do not use athletes foot cream or spray, as this can be toxic if licked by your pet.
Many vets will prescribe steroids to treat your pets paw licking and biting. Use of steroids should be a last effort. We don't know exactly how the steroids affect our dogs, because they cannot tell us. Topical treatment, which would be best suited for humans, cannot be used since our pets will eat them, and most oral treatments provide minimal relief. Starting a steroid treatment may be something you will need to continue for the rest of your pets life, so try to exhaust every other method before going this direction.
It is always encouraged to consult with your vet when coming up with a solution to your American Bully, Bulldog, or any other Bully Breeds ailments. Your vet doesn't have all the answers, nor do we. We do encourage you to try herbal methods, and psychological changes like toys and TV as noted above, and of course dietary changes, before jumping into long term prescription and steroid use.
Boosting your pets immune system can help ward off susceptibility to some allergic reactions. Fish Oil capsules are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and are very good for your dogs nervous system, heart, skin, and immune system. Many raw food diets already contain a fish oil ingredient, however if you are sticking with your current diet, try adding a Fish oil supplement into your daily routine. You may find it improves your dogs overall health.