Paw licking and biting is one of the many activities that we find adorable about our French Bulldogs; however, if your dog is frequently licking or biting their paws and toes there could be an underlying issue. Biting and licking paws and toes are common responses amongst all dogs due to dry skin, or having contact with a skin allergen.
Alike humans, allergic reactions in dogs occur when the immune system mistakes non-harmful environmental substances (such as grass, dander, or dust) as a threat. You can remedy this by reducing indoor and outdoor allergen exposures, regulating the temperature and humidity in your home, and by maintaining a healthy diet for your dog. If you notice that the skin in between your dog’s toes and paws is red, swollen, or scabbed, use these three steps to mitigate and prevent painful hot spots, yeast and bacterial infections.
Indoor and outdoor allergens can be managed, but never fully eliminated. Washing your French Bulldog’s bed weekly and keeping floors and surfaces vacuumed and dusted can reduce their exposure to indoor skin allergens. Frequent baths can dry out their skin, so be sure to use a shampoo that is hypoallergenic and alternate baths with foot soaks. Foot soaks with epsom salt can soothe the skin and prevent the amount of allergens your French Bulldogs tracks in from outside. We recommend visiting our post on Grooming for further product information on grooming wipes.
Regulating the temperature and humidity in your home year-around can reduce dryness and irritation of the skin. Summer brings hot and moist conditions, which makes it difficult to regulate the body’s natural oils. In contrast, winter’s lack of humidity can also dry out skin. Keep your home air conditioned in summer and use a humidifier in dry winter conditions to help prevent dry and irritated skin.
A healthy diet will help your French Bulldog’s ability to fight off allergens. For food sensitivities, try feeding your dog a limited ingredient, grain-free diet. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils and plants, can benefit your dog’s skin by balancing their own natural oils and it acts as an anti-inflammatory.
It’s important to note that not all licking and biting of paws and toes is due to dry skin, or environmental allergens. If the repeated behavior of licking and biting continues after following these steps, a licensed veterinarian can diagnose and help determine the best treatment plan for your furry companion.
–Written by Katie, Co-Founder of Austin French Bulldogs