Dogs have a lot of seemingly unexplainable behaviors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason for your dog to do what they’re doing.
So, if you have noticed your Cavapoo licking their paws, chances are there’s an underlying cause. It could be as simple as grooming their coat, but it could also be a sign of illness. We’ll go through some of the reasons you might notice your Cavapoo licking their paws and go over what to do about it.
Why Does My Cavapoo Lick Their Paws?
There are many reasons Cavapoos lick their paws, but these are some of the most common.
One of the primary reasons Cavapoos start licking their paws is from skin irritation caused by allergies. These can be food-induced or environmental. Irrespective of the cause, some of the primary allergy symptoms include:
- Reddened skin
- Itchy skin
Dogs find these symptoms as uncomfortable as humans do. One of the ways they try to mitigate their symptoms is by washing the irritated area.
Often this exacerbates the irritation. Left untreated allergy-induced skin irritations can develop infections, especially if they are exposed to the bacteria in a dog’s mouth.
When that happens, your Cavapoo may begin washing their feet. This could be because they exhibit allergy symptoms there or it could be a self-soothing behavior, like sucking your thumb.
Some dog breeds are more anxious than others. Among these is the Cavalier Spaniel, whose DNA significantly influences your Cavapoo.
With that in mind, your Cavapoo may be paw licking because of distress. This could be a temporary disturbance, such as:
- Thunderstorm or other noises dogs hate
- New pet
- Unfamiliar guests
- Moving house
- New smells that dogs don’t like
But it could also be that the Cavalier Spaniel DNA has emerged in your Cavapoo. Cavaliers are affectionately called ‘Velcro dogs’ because of their dogged devotion to their humans. Cavapoos are similarly loyal, and that makes them more likely than other breeds to suffer from separation anxiety while you’re at work.
Whatever the cause of the anxiety, your Cavapoo may be trying to alleviate some of that stress and anxiety.
Another possible source of paw licking is under-stimulation.
This is particularly true for Cavapoos that spend long parts of the day alone. Without another outlet for their energy, a Cavapoo is liable to find licking their paws as a great way to entertain themselves. After all, it gives them something to do on a slow day at home, but that can be the start of an especially vicious cycle.
While this can be relatively harmless on the odd occasion, if they do this often, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like:
- Hot spots
- Hair loss
This causes fresh discomfort in your Cavapoo’s overgroomed feet, and they’re likely to deal with that discomfort by licking their paws.
Stones or Salt
There is also the potential that your Cavapoo has a genuine grievance with their feet. If you live somewhere cold, where rock salt is prevalent, some of the salt crystals may embed in their feet.
Alternatively, a stone can easily get stuck in your Cavapoo’s paws. And since the only thing worse than a stone in your shoe is a stone in your foot, your Cavapoo understandably tries to tackle the problem by licking their paws to dislodge the foreign object.
What to Do When You Notice Your Cavapoo Licking Paws
Sometimes paw licking is part of a nightly grooming ritual. However, this kind of grooming can become obsessive.
So, when do you leave your dog to their solemn bath, and when do you stage an intervention?
Address the Medical Problem
A good rule of thumb is to intervene when the grooming becomes obsessive. In other words, if your Cavapoo licking their paws starts causing other health problems, like alopecia, it’s time to talk to the vet.
They can help you rule out significant problems, like allergies, and manage emotional ones, like separation anxiety. Strategies may include:
- Calming collars
- Pheromone dispensers
- Elizabethan collars
Provide Environmental Enrichment
If your Cavapoo licks their paws out of boredom, then you may have to get a bit creative. The trick here is to distract your Cavapoo from licking their paws with something more interesting.
Arranging for a dog walker while you’re out may help manage the problem. This may not be enough if your Cavapoo is alone for long periods of time.
If that’s the case, puzzle toys can be an excellent source of mental stimulus. They give your dog something—usually food—to sniff out and keep them entertained while you’re out.
However, don’t be surprised if you have to invest time teaching your dog how to play independently. Puzzle toys come in different levels of difficulty, and if your Cavapoo’s primary source of entertainment was a light spot of foot washing, then it may take some time to learn how to seek and search.
A good way to begin training your dog is by keeping treats on hand while watching TV. Every time you catch your Cavapoo licking their paws, show them the treat. Then hide it behind a cushion you don’t mind having crushed and pummeled. A food-motivated Cavapoo will promptly forget their feet in favor of finding food.
Check Your Cavapoo’s Paws for Foreign Objects
Finally, get to know your Cavapoo’s feet. Look at their paw pads often to find out what’s normal for them. This has the added advantage of ensuring your Cavapoo is comfortable having their paws handled, which can help with grooming and nail trimming.
In addition to regularly examining their paws, don’t be afraid to inspect your Cavapoo’s feet after a walk. This is crucial if your neighborhood is overzealous about winter salt, because some varieties contain antifreeze, and that’s not something you want your Cavapoo to eat.
Cavapoos lick their paws for many reasons. Most of the time there’s no reason to panic, and your Cavapoo is merely having a pleasant public bath. Of course, your Cavapoo might be trying to tell you something. They could be lonely or anxious, or their feet might be causing them pain.
The important thing is that you know your dog, and you know what is normal for them. When your Cavapoo licking their paws starts to feel abnormal, that’s the time to call the vet and ask for advice.