Why Do Shih Tzus Lick Their Paws? Helps & Guide

why do shih tzus lick their paws

Why Do Shih Tzus Lick Their Paws? Helps & Guide

Curled up on the couch, you may have noticed your Shih Tzu indulging in a peculiar habit licking their paws. But what’s behind this cute yet mysterious behavior? In this post, we unravel the reasons why Shih Tzu’s have a penchant for paw licking. From natural instincts to potential health concerns, we’ll delve into the world of canine behavior.

Understanding this quirky habit is not just about decoding your furry friend’s actions but also ensuring their well-being. So, let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets behind your Shih Tzu’s paw-licking tendencies.

The Natural Instinct

A. Exploring Canine Natural Behaviors

  1. Dogs’ innate grooming instincts
    • Discuss how dogs, including Shih Tzus, have a natural inclination to groom themselves.
    • Highlight the importance of grooming for maintaining cleanliness and health in the wild.
  2. Paw licking as a grooming behavior
    • Explain how licking paws is a common grooming practice for dogs.
    • Discuss the different ways dogs use their mouths for grooming, including licking their paws.
  3. Comparison with wild canine behaviors
    • Explore how wild canines engage in similar grooming behaviors.
    • Highlight the evolutionary aspects of paw licking as a survival and hygiene mechanism.

B. Understanding Paw Licking in Shih Tzu’s

  1. Shih Tzu breed characteristics
    • Briefly describe the Shih Tzu breed’s history and characteristics.
    • Mention any unique traits that might contribute to their specific paw licking behaviors.
  2. Genetic predispositions
    • Discuss if there are any genetic factors that make Shih Tzus more prone to paw licking.
    • Explore whether certain traits have been selectively bred, impacting their grooming behaviors.
  3. Identifying normal paw licking vs. excessive licking
    • Differentiate between the regular grooming behavior and excessive or obsessive paw licking.
    • Provide examples of when paw licking might be a cause for concern.

C. Practical Tips for Paw Care

  1. Encouraging natural grooming
    • Suggest ways to encourage and support your Shih Tzu’s natural grooming behaviors.
    • Discuss the benefits of allowing dogs to groom themselves within healthy limits.
  2. Regular grooming routines
    • Highlight the importance of establishing regular grooming routines for your Shih Tzu.
    • Provide simple tips for at-home grooming to keep paws clean and healthy.
  3. Using dog-friendly products
    • Recommend safe and dog-friendly products for paw care.
    • Emphasize the importance of avoiding harsh chemicals that may cause irritation.
why do shih tzus lick their paws

Health Considerations

A. Common Health Issues Leading to Paw Licking

  1. Allergies
    • Discuss how allergies, whether food-related or environmental, can prompt excessive paw licking.
    • Provide examples of common allergens that might affect Shih Tzus.
  2. Skin Infections
    • Explain how skin infections, such as bacterial or fungal infections, can cause discomfort and lead to paw licking.
    • Discuss visible signs of skin infections that pet owners should be aware of.
  3. Parasites
    • Highlight the role of parasites, such as fleas or ticks, in causing irritation and prompting paw licking.
    • Encourage regular parasite prevention measures.

B. Paw Licking as a Symptom of Underlying Health Problems

  1. Detecting Signs of Discomfort
    • Educate pet owners on how paw licking can be an indicator of pain or discomfort.
    • Discuss behavioral changes and signs that might accompany health issues.
  2. Importance of Veterinary Check-ups
    • Stress the significance of regular veterinary check-ups to detect and address potential health issues.
    • Advocate for proactive healthcare to ensure the overall well-being of Shih Tzus.

C. Holistic Approach to Health

  1. Balanced Nutrition
    • Emphasize the role of nutrition in maintaining good skin and overall health.
    • Recommend a balanced diet suitable for Shih Tzus.
  2. Regular Exercise
    • Discuss the benefits of regular exercise in promoting overall health and reducing stress.
    • Highlight how exercise can contribute to a healthy coat and skin.
  3. Hygiene Practices
    • Stress the importance of maintaining cleanliness in the living environment to prevent skin issues.
    • Provide tips for creating a hygienic and comfortable space for Shih Tzus.

Behavioral & Environmental Factors

A. Stress and Anxiety as Potential Causes

  1. Understanding Canine Stress
    • Explore common stressors that may affect Shih Tzus, such as changes in routine, new environments, or loud noises.
    • Discuss how stress can manifest in dogs through behaviors like paw licking.
  2. Behavioral Signs of Anxiety
    • Highlight specific behavioral signs, apart from paw licking, that may indicate stress or anxiety.
    • Encourage pet owners to identify and address the root causes of anxiety in their Shih Tzus.

B. Boredom and Lack of Mental Stimulation

  1. Canine Enrichment
    • Discuss the importance of mental stimulation for Shih Tzus to prevent boredom.
    • Provide examples of enrichment activities and toys that can engage and entertain dogs.
  2. Establishing a Routine
    • Emphasize the significance of a consistent daily routine for Shih Tzus.
    • Explain how a well-structured routine can alleviate boredom and reduce undesirable behaviors like excessive paw licking.

C. Changes in the Environment

  1. Weather-Related Considerations
    • Discuss how weather changes, including extreme temperatures or humidity, can impact a Shih Tzu’s skin and paws.
    • Offer tips for protecting paws during different weather conditions.
  2. Irritants in the Living Environment
    • Identify common household irritants that may cause discomfort and lead to paw licking.
    • Provide suggestions for creating a pet-friendly and safe living environment.

D. Balancing Behavioral and Environmental Factors

  1. Observational Approach
    • Encourage pet owners to observe their Shih Tzus’ behavior and note any patterns related to paw licking.
    • Stress the importance of identifying and addressing both behavioral and environmental factors.
  2. Positive Reinforcement
    • Advocate for positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior and discourage excessive paw licking.
    • Provide examples of positive reinforcement strategies that can be implemented at home.

Proper Paw Care

A. Importance of Maintaining Clean Paws

  1. Hygiene Basics
    • Emphasize the significance of clean paws for a Shih Tzu’s overall health and comfort.
    • Discuss how maintaining clean paws can prevent infections and discomfort.
  2. Regular Inspection
    • Encourage pet owners to regularly inspect their Shih Tzu’s paws for any signs of irritation or injury.
    • Explain the importance of early detection and prompt intervention.

B. Establishing Regular Grooming Routines

  1. Brushing and Trimming
    • Provide guidance on brushing and trimming the fur around the paws to prevent matting and reduce the risk of irritation.
    • Share tips on using appropriate grooming tools for Shih Tzus.
  2. Nail Care
    • Highlight the importance of maintaining proper nail length.
    • Discuss the potential issues associated with long nails and provide guidance on safe nail trimming.
  3. Paw Soaks
    • Introduce the concept of paw soaks as a soothing and cleaning practice.
    • Provide simple recipes for dog-safe paw soaks using gentle ingredients.

C. Using Dog-Friendly Products

  1. Choosing Safe Products
    • Educate pet owners on the importance of using dog-friendly and hypoallergenic grooming products.
    • Provide recommendations for suitable paw cleaning solutions.
  2. Avoiding Harsh Chemicals
    • Warn against using harsh chemicals or human products on a Shih Tzu’s paws.
    • Discuss potential allergic reactions and skin irritations caused by inappropriate products.

Also Read: Is Shih Tzu Bite Dangerous? Helps & Guide


Understanding why Shih Tzus lick their paws is a key element of responsible pet ownership. From natural instincts to potential health concerns, recognizing the factors influencing this behavior empowers owners to provide optimal care. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced routine, and proactive grooming practices are essential for maintaining a Shih Tzu’s paw health.

By addressing behavioral and environmental factors, creating a pet-friendly environment, and incorporating positive reinforcement, pet owners can foster a happy, healthy, and comfortable life for their beloved Shih Tzus. Ultimately, decoding the mystery behind paw licking leads to a deeper connection and a fulfilling companionship with these charming canine friends.

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