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Why do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Our pets behave differently in various situations. Some of their behaviors seem to be normal while others do not. Among the various odd behaviors, one is, your pet dog licking its paws. Now, many dog owners have this question in their minds that why do dogs lick their paws. To address this issue, we shall be providing you with an informative article that answers all your queries as a pet dog owner around the question mentioned above. 

As far as a dog’s behavior of licking its paws is concerned, there could be various reasons why your pet does so. In this article, we shall be taking all of the possible reasons one by one so that you may be able to recognize the root problem for your pet dog’s behavior. 

Some of the several reasons that lead dogs to lick or chew their paws are as follows

  • Skin problems
  • Injuries
  • Environmental
  • Parasite
  • Food allergies
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety

Dogs do lick or chew their paws occasionally when they come in from outside to remove the dirt or sand from their bodies. But what if this behavior is being repeated frequently? My dear friend, if your pet dog is in a habit of licking or chewing its paws frequently and intensely then, there is definitely something wrong with it. Excessive licking of the paw is not good and can be a sign of some possible issue and some action needs to be taken on your part. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

It is typically a part of the self-grooming process for dogs. If your four-legged friend loves to keep itself hygienic and is very much concerned about its grooming then, you would often notice it licking its paws after meals, while settling down for a nap, or when it is coming in from outdoors.

Even if your pet friend is not much of a self-groomer, you would occasionally see it cleaning it’s paws on its own. So, if your dog is doing this only once in a while then, there is probably no problem with it and there is nothing that you need to worry about. 

However, frequent or aggressive licking of the paw is something to worry about! 

Health Problems and Licking of Paw

If you are of the view that the paw-licking behavior of your pet dog is not normal then, firstly, you should determine that whether there is any health issue with the paws or not. Itchy, irritated, or painful paws often lead to dogs licking their paws.

There could be a paw injury or foreign object that might be leading to such a behavior of your dog. Your pet might have stepped on something that is causing discomfort such as, hot pavement or a sharp object. Also, it might be the case that it has been bitten by an insect or an animal. There is also a possibility that something has stuck to his paws and he needs your help in removing it. Foreign object that gets embedded in the paws also might cause irritation. 

Apart from the reason mentioned above, there could also be a possible abnormal growth on one of his paws, such as a cyst or a tumor. The pooch might be suffering from arthritis or an injury to the soft tissue or bones of the paw (this, of course, you would not be able to detect from naked eyes). 

If you notice your pet focusing more on one of its paws than the other then, there is a problem with it that can easily affect the other paw too. Therefore, you need to be careful and immediate treatment needs to be given.


If the pet begins to lick its paws very suddenly and is focused only on one paw then, you should examine the paw for any possible injury such as a cut, torn nail, growth, a stone, thorn, or ice ball stuck between the pads. In such a case, you would have to be very careful and look closely at the nails of your pet, between the toes, the pads, and at the tops of the feet as well. 

The pet might have injured his paws by walking or stepping on hot or salted sidewalks or might have a blister. You should consider giving your pet a simple first aid treatment in such situations. If the problem persists, you can take your pet to a veterinarian. 


Dermatitis is a kind of skin infection that means that your pet dog’s paws might appear normal but your pooch might be suffering from this skin infection. Such skin infection can be caused by various bacterial problems like allergies, or food sensitivities.

The pet might be allergic to the chemicals, deicing products, certain types of grass or weeds, and pesticides being used by you in your yard. So be careful and for your convenience, you may try keeping a bowl of water and a clean towel to wipe-off the pet’s paws when it comes inside from the lawn. Otherwise, if you do not want your pet to go out in the lawn at all then, you can buy the best large dog crate and crate-train your pet.


Your four-legged friend might be having parasite infections such as fleas or mange. These can cause the paws of your pet to be very itchy. You can take it to a vet who would recommend treatments to eliminate the parasites or if you want to try treating it on your own then, you may go for the best flea shampoo for dogs.

Food Allergies

It might be a bit difficult to make out whether your pet dog has a food allergy or not so it would be better to take a vet’s help if you have a doubt. Food allergies can lead to itchy paws. Your pet might be kept on a special diet by the vet or some ingredients from its food might be suggested to be removed. Also, you should be careful on your part that your dog’s food is kept safe and away from any sort of bacteria or infection. For this, you may consider buying the best dog food storage containers.


If your pet dog is suffering from arthritis then, he may lick his foot or paws. Even if the pain is in some other part of the body, dogs do try to heal the pain by licking a front paw continuously. It is better for you not to try treating the pet yourself in such a case instead, this would require diagnosis and treatment by a vet.

Behavioral Tendencies

If all the above issues have been ruled out by you and your vet then, probably the pooch has behavioral issues including anxiety. This is also difficult to diagnose. Licking of paws is included in the compulsive behaviors that the pets develop. 

To alleviate their boredom, you can try taking them for a walk, increase their play-time, buy the best interactive dog toys, etc. This shall involve the exhaustion of both mental and physical energy thus, distracting your pet’s mind from adopting odd and unusual behaviors. You can even give them puzzle toys or one of the best chew toys for dogs to take its attention away from its paws.  

There could be anxiety too that is causing such behavior on your pet’s part. This anxiety could be due to fear of noises or separation anxiety. In such cases, you should consult a good animal behaviorist. He/she would suggest a variety of options to try. 

Secondary Infections

By now you must have understood that why do dogs lick their paws. You also know now that excessive licking of paws or claws is not a good sign and can be harmful. The reason that you should not ignore this behavior is that constant licking of the foot leads to moisture in that area further leading to secondary bacterial infections such as yeast infection. This would cause even more itching, redness, swelling, and licking. 

If treated properly on time, these secondary infections can be avoided. When taken to the vet as the first sign of a problem appears, the vet might give steroids, anti-itch sprays, antibiotics, or antifungals, etc. to reduce inflammation and infections. Or else, initially you may also read the best dog flea treatment reviews online and consider giving your pet a treatment yourself.  

The sooner you address the problem and illuminate the cause, the better it would be.    

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