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Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? And Solution

  • 11 min read

Dogs lick their paws for a lot of reasons which I will tell you about in this article. The truth is that a lot of dogs have that behavior of licking their paws and other times it can be a sign of an underlying problem.

It is safe to assume that when your dog licks his paws continuously it is a sign that something is happening.

If you keep that in mind, you will be safe enough to know that there is something that needs your attention whenever your dog starts licking his paws. This can be a parasite, or skin disease, or can even just be boredom.

So, let’s look at Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? Reasons And The Solution.

Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws

Here are some of the reasons why dogs lick their paws.

1. Licking off Unwanted material off their paws

When dogs lick their paws there is always a reason, but not all of the causes are bad. Some dogs are more sensitive than others and because of this, they react to anything that is not a normal part of their skin and this can result in dogs licking an unwanted material on their skin.

It is natural for most dogs to do that but it is still okay to take a look at what they are trying to lick off if you notice them overdoing it in any way.

For example, if you see your dog walk a little, and stop severally to lick his paws then it is time to take a look. And most importantly If you see your dog lick his paws aggressively for a long period of time

Then it is probably a good idea to check on him/her to see if there is an underlying cause.

2. Injuries On The Paw

Injuries can be a big reason why dogs constantly lick their paws. When a dog is injured in any way, the first thing it does is lick that particular spot.

So it is okay to pay attention to what is going on and see if there are any wounds like cuts on the paw where the dog focuses his licks.

Also, dogs step on sharp objects and get torn skin under their paws, they tend to start licking the spot at every opportunity to ease the pain.

The most important thing to note is that dogs can not ignore injuries in any part of their body, not even a tiny one.

They lick the spot of the injuries, although this is not usually the right way to treat the injury because in some cases licking injured areas can add bacteria to the area which can prolong the healing process and even cause infection.

So, when you check the dog to find out why he is licking himself and you notice any cut in the pads or between the nails, you should try using a dog first aid kit. If the injury is something bigger like a “growth on the feet” or any other thing that first aid can not deal with.

Then please take the dog to see a vet immediately.

3. Bacteria And Parasites Like Tick And Fleas

Bacteria accumulation due to your dog stepping into bad water can also cause inflammation on the foot, specifically the paws, and this can lead to the dog excessively licking his paws to deal with the itch.

Dogs are usually always enthusiastic unless they are not feeling well or they are just one of those quiet breed dogs like the “Great Dean”.

Their nature makes them unwilling to stay in one place for a long time and because of this, dogs usually always walk around a lot and there is no telling where they put their feet and consequently carry bacterias and parasites on their feet that can cause an itchy sensation on the dog’s paw.

Parasites like fleas and ticks are known to be a cause for concern when dogs start licking and nibbling on their paws.

4. Boredom And Anxiety

Boredom and Anxiety can be another natural reason why your cabin is licking his paws. Dogs do this instinctively to keep their mind in the state of activity.

As a dog owner, this is inevitable to not notice him when he is bored or anxious. Anxiety is not a welcoming way of life for dogs.

This can be why dogs lick their paws and the rest of their body when the anxious feeling or boredom sets in.

The solution to this is to find time to walk your dog or give him to a dog walker to help you exercise the dog. Another way to avoid this natural behavior is to give the dog a treat, a toy to play with, or even one of those chews that can keep them busy and help get their mind off boredom and anxiety.

5. Dog Have Food Allergies

Food Allergies can be a big reason why a dog focuses his effort on licking his feet and paws to get rid of the itch.

Sometimes when there are ingredients in the meal that your dog is allergic to. Itching can be one of these symptoms.

The itch that comes with a dog food allergy can affect any other part of the dog’s limb, not just the feet. So be sure to pay attention to your dog’s meal and give him the right kind of food that is acceptable by his system.

6. Dog Dermatitis Skin Infection

Dog dermatitis is a skin condition that can cause dogs to lick the infected area on their body that is affected, the paws included.

In this case, the dog’s footpad is usually not affected, but the paws are inflamed due to dermatitis skin problems. This skin problem occurs when your dog is allergic to a part of your environment, or like chemicals in an object that the dog contacted, some grasses, some food he is allergic to, and so on.

A vet can better advise you on the best step to take in this issue. but generally, you want to give your dog a good bath and focus a little on his paws or any other place you notice him biting and licking on.

7. When You Dog Feels Pain

Pain and inflammation are the most popular reason why dogs will lick a part of their paw where they feel pain. When a dog feels pain on the paws due to anything at all, the first thing he does is lick his paw.

So, you will have to find out what the cause of the pain is before attempting any kind of treatment because each cause of discomfort or pain comes with its own treatment procedure.

If you can not see the cause of the pain then take your dog to a doctor and see if it is something more serious that needs urgent attention.

8. Dog Environmental Allergy

This is one that a lot of dog owners don’t pay too much attention to. Changing a dog from an environment that he is allergic to in some way, can cause the rise of environmental allergy.

Some dogs that have high skin sensitivity can react to such an environment, this can result in making the dog uncomfortable and forcing him to want to lick off some part of his body that he feels weird about.

The same thing happens to humans but at least we can communicate that and get help, but dogs can not.

So, as a dog owner, there is a need to pay attention to your dog when you notice he constantly licks his paws. And when you check and don’t seem to see any swelling or cuts, then it may be an environmental reaction.

You should see a vet or your dog doctor run a couple of tests over a period of time and ascertain the exact cause of this paw licking before recommending a treatment, especially if it is an environmental reaction or allergy.

9. Stress Relieve

Just like when humans come home off of a stressful day to massage their body, dogs do that too, only they don’t massage their body but they lick their paws.

Yes, dogs too feel stress and any other emotions that most animals feel. Tired legs are one of them. Along with licking their legs, dogs are very keen on licking their paws just while they are taking their rest.

10. Dog Grooming Behavior

It is natural for dogs to lick their paws as a way of keeping themselves clean. Licking the paws is just another grooming behavior that comes with being a dog. They may even attempt to nibble on the paws for a little bit.

But it is not dog grooming when you see them do it over and over again in a long period of time, especially if they are not in their resting mood.

It calls for your attention if you see your dog always licking his paw over a long period.

Solution To Dogs Licking Their Paws

What you need to know is that why dogs lick their paws can be a natural tendency and behavior or it can be an underlying condition that needs urgent attention and treatment.

If It Is An Underlying Condition (Wounds, Disease, Swellings, etc)

When you notice your dog constantly licking his paws, check his paws, the toes, and the pad, also check in between the nails and in between the dog’s fingers.

What you are looking for is a bruise, a cut or bleeding, any swelling, and redness, or any other unusual appearance.

I advise you to compare the one paw with the other one and see if there is any unusual swelling, cuts or redness, or anything at all that makes one paw different from the other.

If it is a cut or bruise that first aid can fix, then go with the first aid. but if you see an infection or abnormal swelling then take the dog to your vet.

If you must treat your dog’s paws with first aid, try giving him a foot-washing or even a bath before administering the first aid. then give him the treat to keep him close while the first aid works on him.

If the case is strange to you or severe, then we recommend you see a vet and begin early treatment.

If It is A Natural Behaviour

Stopping a dog from licking his paws if it is a natural behavior like boredom, self-grooming, and anxiety comes with a different approach than when you are treating your dog for an underlying condition.

To make a dog change his lifestyle is tough but is doable especially if you follow the right steps. Some of these steps can help you deal with dogs licking their paws.

1. Take them out for some exercise or if you are too busy for that, then find a dog walker to help out with that.

2. Give them dog chews to keep them busy especially when they are licking their paws during their rest

3. Buy them toys That you know they like paying with to help keep their minds off trying to lick their paws.

4. Take them to a dog trainer and train them to live differently and that includes staying away from their paws.

5. Take them to the park and let them play around with kites

6. Engage them with activities like “Fetch The Ball”

Final Thought

Dogs can lick their paws because of a condition or disease, and you need to find out which is the case to help you know what route to take in fixing the situation if that is what you want to do.

Always keep your vet close if it is a case of an emergency.