shih tzu licking paws

Shih Tzu Licking Paws 2023: Understanding Causes and Solutions

Noticed your shih tzu constantly licking paws? Understand the reasons behind shih tzu licking paws and how to offer relief.


Shih Tzus are a popular breed of toy dog that originated in China. They are known for their small size, friendly demeanor, and distinctive long hair.

While this breed is generally healthy and easy to care for, there is one behavior that many owners find concerning: paw licking. If you have a Shih Tzu, you may have noticed that they spend a lot of time licking or chewing at their paws.

This behavior can be frustrating for pet owners, but it is also an important sign that something may be wrong with your dog’s health. In this article, we will explore the causes of paw licking in Shih Tzus and offer tips for remedies and prevention.

Brief overview of Shih Tzu breed

Shih Tzus were originally bred as companion animals for Chinese royalty. They were highly prized for their cute appearance and affectionate personality.

Over time, the breed was exported to other parts of the world and became a popular pet choice due to their small size and adaptability to different living environments. These dogs typically weigh between 9-16 pounds and stand at around 9-10 inches tall at the shoulder.

They have long hair that requires daily grooming to prevent matting and skin irritation. Shih Tzus are also known for their sweet temperament and love of attention from their owners.

Explanation of common behavior of licking paws in Shih Tzus

Paw licking is a common behavior seen in many dogs, including Shih Tzus. It can range from occasional grooming to constant licking or chewing on the feet or toes. There are several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior.

Firstly, paw licking can be a way for dogs to soothe themselves when they are feeling anxious or stressed. This could be due to changes in the dog’s environment, such as a move to a new home or the addition of a new pet or family member.

Another possible cause of paw licking is allergies. Shih Tzus can be sensitive to certain foods, environmental allergens like pollen or dust, and even materials like carpeting or cleaning products.

Paw licking can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as an infection or parasites on the paws. It is important for pet owners to pay attention to their dog’s behavior and seek veterinary care if they suspect that something may be wrong.

Importance of understanding the causes, remedies, and prevention of this behavior

While paw licking may seem like a harmless behavior at first glance, it is important for pet owners to understand that it can have serious consequences if left untreated. Constant licking or chewing on the paws can lead to skin irritation, open wounds, and infections that require medical intervention.

By understanding the underlying causes of paw licking in Shih Tzus and taking steps to prevent and remedy it when necessary, pet owners can help ensure their dog’s health and well-being. In the following sections of this article, we will explore common causes of paw licking in Shih Tzus and offer tips for treatment and prevention.

Causes of Shih Tzu Licking Paws

It’s not uncommon for a Shih Tzu to spend a lot of time licking their paws, but this behavior can indicate an underlying issue. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to understand the root cause of this behavior to address it effectively. The following are some of the most common reasons why Shih Tzus may lick their paws excessively.


Allergies are one of the leading causes of paw licking in Shih Tzus. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to certain foods or environmental factors.

Food allergies occur when your dog’s immune system reacts negatively to specific proteins found in their diet. Common allergens include chicken, beef, dairy products, wheat or grains.

Environmental allergies can also trigger paw licking in Shih Tzus. Pollen from grass and trees, mold spores, dust mites and insect bites are typical allergens that may cause itching and discomfort in Shih Tzus which lead them to lick their paws excessively.


Fleas and ticks are another potential cause for your shih tzu licking their paws regularly- these external parasites can cause skin irritation and itchiness that leads your dog into excessive grooming habits such as paw-licking. Mites also fall under the category of parasites that commonly affect dogs causing excessive scratching or biting at the affected area which may be located around your shih tzu’s paws leading them towards incessant paw-licking behaviour.


If left untreated for long periods infections can lead to severe itching around sensitive areas like ears and paws which may prompt frequent paw-licking behavior. Yeast infections can be the reason behind your shih tzu’s paw-licking behaviour. Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus on the skin of pets, but certain conditions such as allergies or hormonal imbalances can cause it to overgrow, leading to skin irritation and itchiness around sensitive areas like ears and paws causing them to lick their paws excessively.

Bacterial infections can also cause your Shih Tzu to lick their paws excessively. Bacteria present on their skin and fur may enter the body via a cut or scratch, leading to an infection.

The infected area will be painful and itchy, leading your dog to lick it persistently. There are various reasons why Shih Tzus may develop excessive paw-licking habits.

As a pet owner, it’s crucial to recognise these causes so that you can take appropriate measures to prevent them from occurring in the future. If you notice that your Shih Tzu is licking their paws excessively or shows signs of discomfort, take them for a veterinary check-up immediately.

Remedies for Shih Tzu Licking Paws

Home remedies for mild cases

Shih Tzus are prone to developing allergies that may cause them to lick their paws excessively. It is important to note that home remedies are only suitable for mild cases. For instance, Epsom salt soak is a great way to relieve itching and reduce inflammation in your dog’s paws.

You can make this remedy by adding half a cup of Epsom salt to a gallon of warm water and soaking your dog’s paws for 5-10 minutes daily until the condition improves. Another remedy that has been found effective in soothing itchy paws is an apple cider vinegar rinse.

The acidity in apple cider vinegar helps balance the pH levels on your dog’s skin, reducing itchiness and redness. Mix one part of apple cider vinegar with two parts of water and spray it on your dog’s paw or use a cotton ball soaked in the solution to clean the affected area.

Medications prescribed by a veterinarian for more severe cases

In severe cases where home remedies are not effective, medication prescribed by a veterinarian may be necessary. Anti-itch medications such as Apoquel or Cytopoint can help alleviate itching and scratching in Shih Tzus caused by allergies. These medications work by blocking specific enzymes or proteins produced during an allergic reaction.

If the underlying cause is bacterial or fungal infection, antibiotics or antifungal medications will be prescribed accordingly. Shih Tzus are susceptible to skin infections caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus, which may cause redness, swelling, and discomfort in their paws.

It is important never to administer any medication without consulting with your veterinarian first as some over-the-counter products may have adverse effects on dogs. Home remedies such as Epsom salt soaks and apple cider vinegar rinses can be effective in mild cases of paw licking in Shih Tzus.

However, more severe cases may require medication prescribed by a veterinarian such as anti-itch medications, antibiotics or antifungal medications. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s behavior constantly and seek medical attention if the condition persists or worsens.

Prevention Measures for Shih Tzu Licking Paws

Regular Grooming to Prevent Matting and Skin Irritation

One of the primary reasons for Shih Tzus licking their paws is due to matting and skin irritation. Therefore, regular grooming is essential to prevent this problem from occurring.

Brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat daily will help remove tangles and mats that can lead to skin irritation. Use a comb designed for small breeds like the Shih Tzu since their fur is soft, long, and prone to matting.

Additionally, you should also make sure that your dog’s nails are trimmed regularly so that they don’t scratch themselves while licking their paws. Regular grooming not only helps prevent matting and skin irritation but also keeps your Shih Tzu looking clean and healthy.

Cleanliness and Hygiene to Prevent Infections

Another reason why your Shih Tzu may be licking its paws is due to infections caused by bacteria or yeast. To prevent these infections, it’s crucial to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in your dog’s environment. Make sure your dog’s living area is clean at all times, including their bedding, bowls, toys, etc. If you take your dog outside often, check their paws regularly for any foreign objects like thorns or burrs that may cause cuts or scrapes on the pads of their feet.

Always keep an eye on any discharge or discoloration on paw pads as these are signs of infection. Contact a vet immediately if you see anything unusual.


Diet plays a significant role in preventing paw-licking behavior in Shih Tzus; therefore it is crucial that they eat a well-balanced diet with high-quality ingredients. One option could be switching them from commercial food to homemade food made of protein-rich ingredients like chicken and fish. Consult with your vet or nutritionist to create a diet that meets your dog’s specific needs.

Furthermore, you should also ensure that your dog has access to clean water at all times. Inadequate water intake can cause skin problems, leading to paw licking as the dog tries to soothe itching and discomfort.


Shih Tzu licking paws may seem like a small issue, but it can lead to much more significant health problems if left untreated. By understanding the causes, remedies, and prevention measures for this behavior, you can help keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come.

Regular grooming, hygiene maintenance, and a well-balanced diet are essential in preventing this behavior from starting in the first place. With proper care, you can keep your Shih Tzu’s paws healthy and clean while enjoying their adorable companionship.

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