Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws Before Bed?

Dogs may like to lick before they go to sleep because it stirs latent memories of when they were puppies. From the moment they’re born until they’re separated from their mother, puppies are subjected to vigorous maternal tongue washes. It stimulates their growth and keeps them clean. It’s also the mother dog’s unique way, apart from feeding them, of giving her babies affection. While your dog may enjoy a bath and possibly often needs one, let’s face it, it’s not practical or healthy to give him one every day. Your dog having a lick before he goes sleep could mean he’s just sorting out his own personal hygiene in-between times. Nature failed us when she didn’t give dogs the capability to talk. A fact which is only forgivable because we love them just the way they are. But wouldn’t it be so much easier and eliminate all the guesswork, if they could just tell you what they were feeling?

Maybe, with only good intentions in mind, you’ve overdone his exercise routine and he’s licking his legs in the hope of massaging away the discomfort of his aching muscles.

Why Is My Dog Licking His Paws At Night? In this sense, paw-licking or chewing in dogs may be similar to human nail-biting. Some dogs lick their paws before bed or lick themselves to sleep. This is just their way of relaxing and soothing themselves. If there is no redness or swelling, this type of paw-licking should not be a concern.

These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety. When dogs are anxious or depressed, they tend to chew their paws or lick and scratch compulsively.

Dogs who are ill, generally sad, or depressed will often lick their own paws obsessively. These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety. In severe cases, your dog may have obsessive-compulsive tendencies that lead them to obsessively lick their paws.

In severe cases, your dog may have obsessive-compulsive tendencies that lead them to obsessively lick their paws. These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety. The first warning sign of strains or sprains may be that your dog starts to limp or is suddenly lame, meaning they cant use their leg.

Boredom and stress can also cause your dog to lick and bite their front paws out of frustration which can then become habit. Underlying itchiness is what results in that constant foot licking; the moisture caused by excessive foot licking between the paws can cause a secondary bacterial or yeast infection. Excessive licking of the paws warrants a trip to your veterinarian, as certain tests need to be performed to rule out skin problems.

Some people say to use chilli or pepper but you should only use pet-safe products as they wont irritate your dogs eyes or nose.

Ahhh, sleep, that peaceful pleasure. Slurp! As I was saying, sweet slumber, drifting, drifting Slurp! Few things are more annoying than the wet, sloppy sound of a dog licking himself when youve just crawled into bed. Its like nails on a chalkboard especially when it wont stop. Why do dogs lick themselves before sleeping?

When the days activities catch up with him, a dog who has overexerted could be licking sore or stiff muscles. While several veterinarians and behaviorists told me they dont know why dogs specifically choose the time right before sleep to lick, there are theories.

Because mothers lick their pups to groom, show affection and stimulate bodily functions, self-licking soothes by mimicking that maternal care. And licking has been shown to release body chemicals called endorphins that promote a sense of calm and comfort. Older dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction (or dementia) can develop sundown syndrome, which manifests itself in anxious and repetitive behaviors when the sun sets.

Simply taking advantage of the pause at days end for a hygienic lap of luxury is common and normal. Medically, skin disease, especially atopy [immune response to allergens], is at the top of the list. Fleas and mites, hormonal imbalance and dry skin can irritate and cause itchiness.

If the dog checks out normally on a medical basis, then get together with a behaviorist or veterinarian comfortable with dealing with behavior issues. There are tools to help lick self-licking, from enriching your dogs life to skin-soothing shampoos, taste-deterrent topical sprays and creams, calming supplements, pheromone therapies, security vests, soft collars and anti-anxiety medication. > Let your dog out just before heading to sleep (going outside opens the door to irritants like ticks, allergens, scrapes, and pebbles between toes).

She has written for Nestl Purina PetCare publications and is a former managing editor of Dog Fancy magazine.

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs may like to lick before they go to sleep because it stirs latent memories of when they were puppies. From the moment they’re born until they’re separated from their mother, puppies are subjected to vigorous maternal tongue washes. It stimulates their growth and keeps them clean. It’s also the mother dog’s unique way, apart from feeding them, of giving her babies affection. While your dog may enjoy a bath and possibly often needs one, let’s face it, it’s not practical or healthy to give him one every day. Your dog having a lick before he goes sleep could mean he’s just sorting out his own personal hygiene in-between times. Nature failed us when she didn’t give dogs the capability to talk. A fact which is only forgivable because we love them just the way they are. But wouldn’t it be so much easier and eliminate all the guesswork, if they could just tell you what they were feeling?A dog, especially an older one who’s getting on in years, can lick before he goes to sleep in an attempt to alleviate pain. Arthritis and rheumatism are not just human afflictions, they can also affect dogs. Pain can happen in a younger dog too. Maybe, with only good intentions in mind, you’ve overdone his exercise routine and he’s licking his legs in the hope of massaging away the discomfort of his aching muscles. He could be feeling a bit like us after we’ve overexerted ourselves in the gym. Dogs get allergies too. Apart from having a good scratch, the only way they’ve got of dealing with an itch is by licking it. Have you considered the possibility your dog has started licking before he sleeps because he’s having an allergic reaction to something? The same as with children, while they’re occupied and running around, they’ll ignore whatever is making them feel unwell. When they’re in their bed, alone and quiet, the symptoms will manifest and as a child would scratch at what ever was bothering them, a dog will react by licking because the itching is driving them nuts. Constantly licking at a wound or infection is the way dogs cure themselves. As worrying as it may be, can you be sure your dog hasn’t got something physically wrong?

Encouraging the Behavior

A dog licking excessively before it goes to sleep can be a good indication that things are not right with him. You should try checking which area he is focusing his licking on. Is it his belly or maybe his paws? Or maybe is it his nether regions? If his licking is concentrated on his rear parts, getting your pup checked over at the vet’s is a good idea. Your dog may well have some infected anal glands which need treating. Parasites, such as fleas, tend to be more active at night so you should check him for little critters too. He could just be trying to let you know he’s picked up a few bugs while running around in the park and whichever preventive measure you have been using has sadly not been working. Your dog licking himself to sleep could also be a sign he is missing his momma’s maternal caresses. Was he taken away from his mother too soon by the breeders? This can cause your dog to miss his mother’s licking so he does it for himself. However, he may just be doing it because it feels good. Or it may be a ritual that helps him go to sleep.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If licking before he goes to sleep is new for your dog, have you considered checking out the detergents you wash his bed in? Have you changed soap brands recently? Dogs, just like humans, can be allergic to a million different things, including certain brands of soap. If he is executing a concentrated nibbling of his paws, he could be having a reaction to grass pollen from running around in the park or garden. If it’s a more all over his body reaction, it could be down to his food or even the cat if you have one, but we won’t go into that.

Do dogs lick their paws when stressed?

When dogs are anxious or depressed, they tend to chew their paws or lick and scratch compulsively. Dogs may react that way due to common separation anxiety, or anxiety caused by lack of proper exercise. Dogs who are ill, generally sad, or depressed will often lick their own paws obsessively.

Why is my dog licking his paw?

As with other dog behaviors, there can be several reasons that lead dogs to lick or chew their paws. These include injuries; skin problems; environmental, parasite, or food allergies; and boredom or anxiety.

What if my dog licks her paws?

Underlying itchiness is what results in that constant foot licking; the moisture caused by excessive foot licking between the paws can cause a secondary bacterial or yeast infection. … Excessive licking of the paws warrants a trip to your veterinarian, as certain tests need to be performed to rule out skin problems.

Are dog licks really kisses?

“In general, if a dog licks you, they are showing affection. However, if the dog licks someone who is agitated or excited this could be a symptom of stress. By licking that person, they are trying to relieve their stress because they know this is a welcome gesture. … Other dogs simply want to kiss everyone they meet!

Do dogs understand when you kiss them?

When you kiss your dog, you may notice signs that indicate they know that the kiss is a gesture of affection. As puppies, this is not something that dogs would recognize, although they would feel you doing it. … Of course, dogs don’t know what kisses actually are, but they learn to realize that they are good.

Still of the night

“The likely explanation is that the dog is merely grooming himself prior to going to sleep,” says John Ciribassi, DVM. “Grooming while relaxed is a common cause for the behavior.”It’s also possible the dog is licking throughout the day, but either we aren’t home to notice or we notice it more at night when things are quiet and we are trying to sleep.The absence of the day’s diversions allows a dog to notice things, too — things that can lead to licking. When the day’s activities catch up with him, a dog who has overexerted could be licking sore or stiff muscles. Conversely, an under-stimulated dog might lick out of boredom.

Nocturnal gnawing

While several veterinarians and behaviorists told me they don’t know why dogs specifically choose the time right before sleep to lick, there are theories.One theory: Because it’s annoying. Licking before sleeping can be an attention-seeking behavior — and it usually works. Your dog slurps, and you react by giving him attention, even if it’s negative attention. That reaction could inadvertently reinforce the behavior. In addition, self-licking for attention might occur due to misunderstanding: Praising a dog when he licks your face could lead the dog to associate reward with all forms of licking.Others suggest separation anxiety. If you and your dog sleep apart, the physical separation could trigger licking as a stress reliever. But it could be more deeply rooted. Some theorize that separation anxiety stems from maternal separation. Because mothers lick their pups to groom, show affection and stimulate bodily functions, self-licking soothes by mimicking that maternal care.And licking has been shown to release body chemicals called endorphins that promote a sense of calm and comfort.Older dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction (or dementia) can develop sundown syndrome, which manifests itself in anxious and repetitive behaviors when the sun sets. While self-licking is not generally associated with sundown syndrome, it could be a contributing factor.

Beyond a lap before nap

Simply taking advantage of the pause at day’s end for a hygienic lap of luxury is common and normal. But excessive licking — no matter what time of day — could signal a medical or behavioral issue.“Licking can have many causes,” says Dr. Ciribassi, founder of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants. “Medically, skin disease, especially atopy [immune response to allergens], is at the top of the list.”Fleas and mites, hormonal imbalance and dry skin can irritate and cause itchiness. Allergies to food ingredients or environmental elements, such as pollen, mold and dust, could be at play.“Any condition causing pain, such as arthritis, cancer, trauma, can cause licking,” says Dr. Ciribassi, a resident of Carol Stream, Illinois, and diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.“Gastrointestinal disorders causing nausea can result in licking, as well,” he says. Nausea can occur from eating, illness or ingesting harmful substances.Obsessive licking in the tail or anal area could mean the anal glands need to be expressed. Or licking could be something as simple as trying to expel something foreign from the mouth (like a hair).Behaviorally, Dr. Ciribassi says, “Compulsive disorders often related to anxiety can cause excessive licking.” Anxiety also can be situational, for example, being in a new environment or when someone new is in the house.Behavioral issues that result in over-grooming can lead to physical problems, including hair loss, yeast and bacterial infections, and skin disorders such as hot spots (inflamed skin that is warm to the touch) and granulomas (thick, red skin lesions).
Don’t let licking cause the ticking away of your rest.“Have the dog evaluated by his veterinarian,” Dr. Ciribassi advises. “If the dog checks out normally on a medical basis, then get together with a behaviorist or veterinarian comfortable with dealing with behavior issues.”There are tools to help lick self-licking, from enriching your dog’s life to skin-soothing shampoos, taste-deterrent topical sprays and creams, calming supplements, pheromone therapies, security vests, soft collars and anti-anxiety medication. Your vet can lead you in the right direction.Remember: Licking in moderation can be good. Saliva aids wound healing. And everybody likes a clean dog. So if your dog’s nighttime self-licking is just normal grooming, it’s nothing to lose sleep over.