Oh! I agree! I was assuming they had already checked his feet for anything visible/obvious. Fleas, ticks, a thorn, a grass awn... even a tiny slice on a paw pad can cause them to lick.
It's not his pads, but between his pads.
We've had him checked and there are many things going on, so it's hard pinpoint. Gibbs was "off" when we got him back from Dana's parents and didn't seem like himself. The "easy" answer would have been to assume his mood or demeanor change was a result of change, but several things didn't seem to fit.
Here's the complete list of facts, some as reported by my in-laws:
1. He appeared to quickly adapt to staying at the in-laws and ate and played normally for 5 straight days.
2. The following Friday he didn't eat or drink well.
3. Dana and I picked him Monday and he was elated to see us, but didn't eat as well. Dana and I noticed he seemed lethargic that evening.
4. On Tuesday during the day, Dana called me to tell me he was still lethargic and didn't eat well. Not wanting to assume it was because of the change, we made an evening appointment at the Vets.
5. Our Vet trusted our observations and gave Gibbs subcutaneous fluids with some stomach medication.
6. As soon as we got home, Gibbs was himself - playing, jumping, etc.
7. He still didn't eat Wednesday morning and we noticed he stopped drinking. He was still playful in the morning, but became more lethargic during the day.
8. I decided to give him a bath and check his skin. I noticed a very tiny flea on his back leg and a bite on his hip. We use Frontline, but are changing to K-9 Advantix. He didn't appear to have any other fleas.
9. I captured the flea, circled the bite and went back to the Vets. All X-rays and bloodwork came back normal. She gave him an oral does of flea medication that will kill fleas within 10 minutes, gave him more subcutaneous fluid, told us to feed him boiled chicken and rice and switched us to K-9 Advantix.
10. He ate the boiled chicken and rice both last night and this morning, but still isn't drinking well. We were told that he might not drink as much because of the fluids.
Regarding the paw licking:
1. We were not immediately concerned with the paw licking and downplayed it to the Vet because Gibbs has always had a "fetish" with his paws. As soon as we brought him home, we noticed he'd "chew" on his front paws. It wasn't enough to cause any damage, but we thought it odd. We actually took him to the Vet to have his paws examined (when we first got him), and they were fine.
2. His paw licking was more noticeable this morning. I actually woke him up when I went downstairs to let him out. The very second he awoke, he licked his paws non-stop for about 5 minutes. That's when I noticed it and took it more seriously. I inspected his paws and noticed redness between his pads.
3. I immediately left a message for the Vet and posted this thread.
4. The Vet has left me message to come by and pick-up some anti-fungal wipes and/or medication because she thinks it may be a fungal infection.
5. I called Dana and she said he seems to be more of himself today. He's drinking a little more and playing.