Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws: 9 Possible Reasons & Solutions

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws

Have you ever wondered why your dog constantly licks its paws? This regular behavior offers a glimpse into their feelings. Just as we might scratch to ease an itch or drum our fingers, dogs also possess their unique ways of non-verbal expression.

In this article, we’ll answer the question many pet parents ask: Why do dogs lick their paws? The short answer is that canines have various reasons for this behavior, from cleaning themselves to coping with stress.

The long answer is more nuanced, and you can learn more about the possible reasons behind this behavior below!

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws So Much?

Dogs lick their paws for different reasons, including cleaning, self-grooming, relaxing, food allergies or irritation, injury, boredom or stress, yeast or bacterial infections, pain, etc. If you suspect your dog’s licking their paws because of a hidden issue, schedule a vet visit immediately. Now, let’s discuss these reasons in more detail.

1. Cleaning

Dogs lick their paws to keep them clean from dirt and other stuff they pick up outside.

2. Grooming

Dogs lick their paws to make their fur nice and shiny by spreading their natural oils.

3. Relaxing

Sometimes, dogs lick their paws when stressed or worried, like how people bite their nails.

4. Food Allergies or Irritation

Many dogs with irritated or itchy skin might lick their feet to make them feel better.

5. Injury

If a dog hurts their paw a little, they might lick the affected paw to make it feel better.

6. Being Bored or Nervous

Canines lick their paws when feeling bored or nervous, just like people tap their fingers when anxious.

7. Yeast or Bacterial Infections

Sometimes, dogs get secondary infections that make them itchy, so they lick their paws. If you suspect your dog has a bacterial or yeast infection, schedule a vet visit immediately.

8. Pain

If a dog’s paw or body hurts, they might lick their paws to try to feel better.

9. Doing Something Over and Over

Some dogs lick their legs too much like they can’t stop. This could be because they’re anxious or worried. Additionally, some canines lick their paws when experiencing separation anxiety.

If you see your dog licking their paws a lot or if their paws look red, swollen, or different, it’s good to take them to the vet. The vet can figure out the underlying cause and provide solutions.

When Should I Worry About My Dog Licking His Paws?

You should start to worry about constant paw licking if you notice signs like redness or swelling, hair loss, changes in behavior, limping, bad smell, open sores, bleeding, etc. You have nothing to worry about if your canine doesn’t display other signs of a hidden issue behind their unusual behavior.

However, if you notice any of these signs, call the vet. Now, let’s discuss the signs of a hidden issue in more detail.

Excessive Licking

If your puppy licks their paws constantly or for long periods, it could be a sign of a problem, such as flea infestation, food allergy, environmental allergy, fungal infection, etc.

Redness or Swelling

If your dog’s paws look red, swollen, or irritated, it might mean they’re hurting or have an infection.

Hair Loss

If your dog’s paws lose fur and have flaky skin because of aggressive licking, it could be a sign of a more serious issue, such as skin irritation, fungal infection, allergic reaction, etc.

Changes in Behavior

If your dog’s behavior changes along with the constant licking, like they seem more tired, grumpy, or less interested in things, that’s a concern. Maybe your dog’s experiencing behavioral issues that have nothing to do with health.


If your dog starts limping or favoring one paw and licking it a lot, they might be in pain.

Bad Smell

If their paws start to smell bad, it could be due to bacterial or yeast infections.

Open Sores or Bleeding

If you see any open sores, bleeding, or signs of injury on their paws, it’s time to see the vet.

No Improvement

If you’ve tried some basic solutions and their paw licking doesn’t improve after a few days, it’s a good idea to consult a vet, dog trainer, or animal behaviorist.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to consult a veterinarian. They can help determine the cause of their licking behavior and recommend the right steps to keep your dog healthy and comfortable.

How to Stop Dog From Licking Paws?

Start by checking their paws for problems like cuts or swelling. When cleaning after play, gently wipe their paws with a damp cloth. If you catch your dog licking his paws, distract them with toys or playtime. Ensure they have many engaging activities to prevent boredom-related licking. Let’s explore other possible solutions.

1. Check for Problems

First, see if your dog’s toes and paws look okay or if something bothers them. Cuts on your dog’s skin, swelling, foreign objects, or a torn nail can make your dog lick the affected area. Flea allergies and lice infestation can also make your dog lick their paws. If you’re unsure, ask the vet.

2. Keep Your Dog’s Paw Pads Clean

Clean up your dog’s feet after they play outside. You can wipe them gently with a damp cloth to remove dirt and prevent frequent licking behavior. Additionally, don’t make your dog walk on hot asphalt. If you must walk your dog during the day, consider using dog boots.

3. Distractions

When you catch your dog licking their paws, gently redirect their attention. Give them a toy or play with them to keep them busy.

4. Boredom Buster

If your dog is licking out of boredom, make sure they have plenty of toys and activities to do. This can help them stay occupied and be less likely to lick.

5. Medical Help

If your dog’s paw licking seems excessive or has a hidden issue like food allergies, infections, or pain, it’s best to visit the vet. They can give you advice and treatment options, such as prescription medication for your dog’s repeated licking behavior.

If your dog has itchy skin, you can also try home remedies for itchy skin after consulting your vet for advice.

6. Elizabethan Collar (E-collar)

In some cases, vets might suggest using an E-collar (a cone-shaped collar) to prevent your dog from reaching their irritated skin. This can give their itchy paws time to heal if they’re irritated.

7. Paw-Friendly Bandage

If your dog has a small paw issue, you can put a special bandage on it. This can stop them from licking and let the paw heal.

8. Yummy Distractions

Give your dog tasty treats or chew toys. When they start to lick their legs, offer them these distractions to keep their mind off licking.

9. Change Your Dog’s Food

Sometimes, allergies or skin problems come from their food. Talk to the vet about the best diet for your dog to help with their paw licking.

Remember, your dog might take time to stop this habit. Be patient and consistent with the steps you choose to try.

What is Your Dog Telling You When He Licks His Paws?

When your dog licks their paws, they’re communicating through their actions. This behavior can serve multiple purposes, and understanding these reasons can help you uncover what your furry friend might be trying to say. Firstly, dogs often lick their legs as a natural grooming behavior.

Like cats groom themselves, dogs use their tongues to clean their fur. Additionally, paw licking can be a soothing mechanism for them, much like how humans might fidget when anxious.

Dogs may engage in this behavior when they feel stressed, anxious, or even to relax before sleeping.

However, excessive paw licking could also be a sign of a hidden issue. If you notice your dog licking their paws continuously, it could indicate food or environmental allergies, skin irritations, infections, foreign objects stuck in their paw area, etc.

They might be trying to alleviate itching or discomfort caused by these problems.

It’s crucial to observe their overall behavior along with paw licking. If your dog seems otherwise healthy and content, occasional paw licking is probably not a concern.

On the other hand, if the licking is persistent, accompanied by redness, swelling, hair loss, or changes in behavior, you should seek veterinary advice.

Is it OK to Let My Dog Lick His Paws?

Dogs use licking to groom themselves, so it’s a part of their daily self-grooming routine. However, excessive licking isn’t good. If your dog licks their paws occasionally and looks healthy without irritation, redness, or swelling, there’s likely no cause for concern.

It becomes a concern when the paw licking becomes excessive, or other symptoms accompany it.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Licking Paws?

You can stop your dog from licking their paws by identifying the cause. Determine when and why your puppy licks their paws. Is it boredom, food or environmental allergies, discomfort, or something else? Consult experts if your dog’s paw licking is excessive, persistent, or accompanied by irritation. They can diagnose any underlying issues and recommend appropriate treatment.

Furthermore, clean your dog’s paws to prevent dirt and irritants from accumulating. Use a damp cloth to wipe their paws after outdoor activities.

Lastly, keep your dog engaged and mentally stimulated with toys, puzzles, and interactive play. This can help redirect their focus from paw licking.

What Your Dog is Trying to Warn About When They Chew Their Paws?

When your dog chews their paws, it’s often a sign that they’re trying to communicate something is bothering them. This behavior can indicate underlying issues that require your attention, such as food or environmental allergies, skin irritations, pain or discomfort, anxiety or boredom, yeast or bacterial infections, and a grooming habit.

To understand the cause of your dog’s paw chewing, observe their behavior closely and look for additional signs like redness, swelling, hair loss, or changes in their overall demeanor. If the behavior continues or worsens, consult a veterinarian.

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking His Paws and Whining?

When your dog licks their paws and whines, they’re likely trying to communicate their discomfort or distress. This behavior can indicate various issues, such as physical discomfort, anxiety or stress, attention-seeking, and medical problems.

To address this behavior, consider the context. Have there been recent changes in your dog’s routine or environment? Are there signs of discomfort, like limping or redness in their paws?

If the behavior is unusual, persistent, or accompanied by visible signs of distress, consult a veterinarian.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws at Night?

Dogs may lick their legs at night for various reasons, including a self-grooming routine, comfort and soothing, boredom, anxiety, and skin issues. If your dog’s nighttime paw licking is new or excessive, consider their overall behavior and health.

If it’s combined with other concerning signs, consult a veterinarian.

Dog Constantly Licking Paws: Closing Thoughts

Understanding why puppies lick their legs is like deciphering their language. While some licking is natural and harmless, excessive or unusual licking could indicate a hidden health problem.

So, responsible pet parents should observe their dog’s paws and behavior, look for changes, and note accompanying symptoms. If unsure or concerned, consult a veterinarian for the best results.

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