why is my dog licking his paws

Have you ever seen your dog licking its paws constantly, leaving you wondering, “Why is my dog licking his paws?” Sometimes, dogs lick their paws to groom, but excessive licking can indicate an underlying problem. This guide will explain why dogs lick their paws excessively and what that could mean for your pet’s health and happiness.

If your dog’s paw licking is due to allergies, skin irritations, behavioral problems, or underlying medical issues, addressing the underlying cause is the first step. Let’s explore the common causes of excessive paw licking and how to deal with them.

Normal Behavior vs Excessive Licking

A dog licks his paws occasionally to groom and soothe them, but excessive licking is different than normal behavior. Brief licking sessions help dogs keep themselves clean and comfortable during grooming. However, when paw licking becomes excessive, it often indicates a severe problem.

Excessive licking is characterized by persistent, repetitive licking. If left unchecked, it can cause skin irritation, hair loss, and even infections. It’s important to monitor our dog’s behavior and recognize when excessive paw licking crosses the line. 

Considering the differences between normal grooming and excessive licking can help you address any underlying issues. 

Why is My Dog Licking his Paws

why is my dog licking his paws

Dogs lick their paws for various reasons, but excessive paw licking can be problematic. Here are some reasons why your dog licking his paws:


Food-related or environmental allergies commonly cause excessive paw licking in dogs. Dogs with food allergies lick excessively to relieve itching and inflammation in their paws. Allergens like pollen, mold, or dust mites may also irritate a dog’s skin, leading to excessive paw licking.

Skin Irritations and Infections

Dogs can suffer from skin irritations like hot spots or fungal infections like yeast dermatitis, which can cause excessive paw licking. Scorching spots are moist, red, and inflamed areas of the skin that cause dogs to lick constantly. Yeast and bacterial infections can worsen paw licking, leading to a vicious cycle of itching and licking.

Pain or Injury

injury in dog's paws

An injured paw or nearby area can also cause dogs to lick excessively to relieve the pain. Cuts, bruises, foreign objects between the toes, or even underlying joint issues can make dogs lick their paws excessively. Check your dog’s paws regularly for any signs of injury or discomfort, and seek veterinary care if necessary.

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety, stress, and boredom can cause dogs to lick their paws excessively. Dogs may engage in this behavior as a self-soothing mechanism when they feel stressed or anxious. Changing environments, separation anxiety, and lack of mental stimulation can contribute to dogs showing excessive paw licking as a coping mechanism.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Dogs with underlying obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) may develop compulsive behaviors, like excessive paw licking. Dogs with OCD can do repetitive, ritualistic things without any apparent reason. In dogs with OCD, excessive paw licking may become a compulsive habit, even if there are no underlying medical issues.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

When to Consult a Veterinarian

While occasional paw licking is normal, persistent or excessive licking can indicate an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention. Here are some signs that it may be time to consult a veterinarian:

  • Symptoms of inflammation, redness, or swelling in your dog’s paws or between their toes may indicate underlying infections.
  • You should see a vet if your dog shows pain or discomfort while walking or when you touch their paws.
  • When your dog’s behavior suddenly changes, like increased agitation, lethargy, or lack of appetite, you should see a vet.
  • If your dog’s paw licking becomes recurring or chronic, treat the underlying cause to prevent further problems.

Tips for Managing Paw Licking of Your Dogs

You can manage excessive paw licking in dogs with the right approach, but it can be challenging. Here are some tips on how to manage your dog’s paw licking:

Regular Paw Inspections

Regularly inspect your dog’s paws for irritation, inflammation, or injury. Check for redness, swelling, cuts, or foreign objects between the toes. In addition to preventing further complications, early detection allows for prompt remediation.

Maintain Proper Grooming

Keeping your dog’s paws clean and groomed prevents dirt, debris, and bacteria from accumulating. You can avoid skin irritation and infection by trimming excess hair around the paw pads.

Address Underlying Issues

Identify and treat any underlying issues that may be causing your dog to excessively lick its paws. You may need to see a veterinarian to check for allergies, skin infections, or joint problems. If you fix the underlying cause, your dog will probably stop licking its paws.

Provide Distraction and Mental Stimulation

Engage your dog in activities that provide mental stimulation and distract him from excessive licking. Toys, puzzle feeders, and obedience training can help redirect your dog’s focus and alleviate boredom or anxiety.

Use Protective Measures

Use protective measures, such as dog boots or socks, to prevent saliva from getting on your dog’s paws. In cases where excessive licking has damaged the skin, this may help relieve irritation and promote healing.

Consult with a Professional

If your dog’s paw licking persists despite your efforts to manage it, consult a veterinarian. The veterinarian can provide personalized advice and recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs and circumstances.


When should I worry about my dog licking his paws?

It should raise concerns whenever dogs lick their paws excessively or when there’s visible irritation, like redness, swelling, or hair loss. Getting your dog to stop licking his paws is a good idea if it interferes with his daily activities, causes discomfort, or persists despite intervention. Moreover, seek professional advice if your dog’s behavior, appetite, or overall well-being changes.

How do I get my dog to stop licking her paws?

Consult a veterinarian if your dog is excessively licking his paws because of allergies or skin irritations. Provide distractions like interactive toys or puzzle feeders to redirect your dog’s attention, such as keeping their paws clean and dry. 

Behavioral training techniques like positive reinforcement can also effectively redirect your dog’s attention from paw licking to more appropriate activities. Patience and consistency are keys to breaking this habit.

Why is my dog chewing the pads of his feet?

There are many reasons why dogs chew their paws, including pododermatitis, allergies, pain, grooming challenges, or anxiety. Getting advice from a veterinarian is crucial if your dog displays persistent or concerning paw chewing behaviors.

What natural remedy can I use to stop my dog licking?

Several natural remedies can deter your dog from excessive licking. Try applying a bitter-tasting deterrent to your dog’s paws, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice diluted with water. These bitter flavors can discourage licking. Distractions like frozen treats or puzzle toys can help your dog stop licking. 

Make sure your dog receives adequate mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom. You should consult a veterinarian before using any natural remedies to ensure they are safe and appropriate.

Read More: What Is the Best Way To Clean Dog’s Ears


Excessive paw licking in dogs can be distressing for both pets and owners. Take proactive steps to identify and alleviate underlying causes and promote your dog’s well-being. Remember that each dog is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Consult your veterinarian if your dog’s paw licking persists or worsens despite your efforts. The right approach, patience, and care can help relieve your dog’s excessive paw licking.