Why Do Dogs Lick Their Feet and Paws?

Why do Dogs Lick Their Feet and Paws
Why do Dogs Lick Their Feet and Paws

Our furry friends never cease to amaze us with their odd behavior. The causes of our pups’ tendencies, from spontaneous barking sessions to intense tail chases, are only sometimes obvious. Paw licking is a typical curious behavior in many dogs but did you ever wonder why does your dog do this?

Dogs might be one of many animals that come to mind when you think of pets trained to groom themselves. On the other hand, dogs frequently lick their paws, tails, and legs to remove debris. This is a typical, healthy behavior and a signal that your pet wants to keep itself clean.

Other Possible Reasons Why Dogs Licking Their Feet and Paws

Dogs may lick or chew on their paws for various reasons, just like other dog behaviors. These include wounds, skin conditions, allergies to certain foods, parasites, environment, and boredom or anxiety.

Dogs occasionally lick their paws as part of their self-grooming routine, especially when they enter the house after walking on sand or dirty ground. However, you should be concerned if your dog licks his paws repeatedly and vigorously.


Dogs might be one of many animals when you think of pets dedicated to self-grooming. Dogs do, however, frequently lick their feet, paws, and tail to remove debris. Even though their antics suggest otherwise when it’s time for a bath, this is a typical, healthy behavior and a sign that your furry friend wants to be clean.


To ensure there isn’t an injury, such as a cut, torn nail, growth, or perhaps a stone, thorn, or ice ball stuck between the pads, examine the paws to see if the licking starts abruptly and is only on one paw. Look closely at the tops of the feet, between the toes and pads, and where the nails are located.

Your dog could have inflamed his paw by stepping on something pointy, stomping on salty or hot pavement, getting stung by a bee, or developing a blister. While some of these issues can be resolved with basic first aid, others might need to be seen by a veterinarian.


Suppose the paw pads and feet look healthy. In that case, the licking may be dermatitis, a skin condition frequently brought on by bacterial issues, allergies, or food sensitivities. Due to an allergy to deicing agents, chemicals used in your yard, or specific varieties of grass or weeds, your dog could develop dermatitis. Keep a bowl of water and a towel close to the door so you can gently wipe the paws when you enter.


Since dogs travel the world on four legs, many parasitic animals naturally make their homes on the canine host’s paws. Your pet’s skin may become irritated by fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, which may prompt your dog to lick the affected area. Although parasites may primarily concentrate on one paw, licking or scratching multiple body parts is a common indication that your dog has parasites.

Check your dog’s skin thoroughly for parasites, and then ask your veterinarian how to get rid of them. If your dog frequently visits grassy or wooded areas during walks or playtime, you may want to alter your routine because these habitats are home to many parasites.

Food Allergies

Many dogs experience an uncomfortable sensation on their paws, similar to how some people with food allergies may experience an itchy throat. Foods and treats for dogs containing dairy, wheat, soy, beef, or chicken can cause allergic reactions and tempt your dog to lick their paws excessively to scratch the itch. Allergies may be to blame if your dog only exhibits this behavior after meals or after consuming certain foods.

If you believe your dog has food allergies, speak with your vet; they can advise you on the best diet for your dog’s requirements. Always read the label on dog treats and foods to avoid ingredients that might cause allergies.

Pains or Aches

Dogs frequently lick their injuries to relieve pain. Your dog may be coping with an injury such as a sting, cut, bite, ingrown nail, puncture, or burn if they repeatedly lick the same paw. In addition to inspecting your dog’s toes for anything unusual, treat minor injuries with a pet first aid kit and thoroughly wash the affected area. If you see an injury, we advise you to get expert counsel.

Another typical cause of pain-related licking is arthritis. According to Dog Experts, although this joint condition typically causes pain in several places, dogs frequently lick one of their paws to ease discomfort. Your dog’s arthritis can be managed by your vet, who can also offer a treatment that might make them feel less uncomfortable.

Behavioral Issues

After ruling out all of the above mentioned issues, your dog might be experiencing boredom or a behavioral issue like anxiety. However, there are some steps you can take to assist, even though this is a challenging diagnosis. The repetitive licking of paws is one of the compulsive behaviors that some dogs develop.

Try taking your dog on more walks, runs, or play sessions with you and other dogs to burn off more mental and physical energy if you find that you are getting bored with something. Provide puzzles or safe chew toys to divert his attention from his paws.

You can try to relieve the anxiety in many ways, including giving him calming treats if you suspect that it may be causing him to lick his paws due to separation anxiety or fear of loud noises. A competent expert in animal behavior can make several recommendations.

Additional Infections

It’s critical to understand that licking behavior may indicate a health issue or even endanger the dog. To identify the issue and find a proper fix, consult your veterinarian. Don’t wait too long to do this because continuing your dog to lick their feet can lead to a secondary bacterial or yeast infection, making your dog’s feet even more itchy, red, swollen, and prone to licking.

The veterinarian may also prescribe anti-itch sprays, steroids to reduce inflammation, antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, or antifungals to treat yeast infections to help your dog stop itching, depending on the underlying cause. It is best to tackle the issue and identify its root as soon as possible.

Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Safe

Paw problems in dogs may be unseen by pet parents, but if left untreated, these issues can cause significant discomfort for our canine companions.

To avoid paw problems like torn nails, pad burns, and frostbite, pet parents must learn to protect their dog’s paws all year. Here are some simple pointers from veterinary professionals.

Clean Paws in the Winter

A dog’s paws may become damaged by ice, snow, salt, and other substances. Make sure to always wipe their paws when they enter the house. Getting rid of all the salt, ice, and dirt is crucial.

Beware of Ice Patches

Wintertime outdoor play may be your dog’s favorite activity, but if you’re not careful, her enthusiasm could cause pain. Just like humans, dogs can trip and fall. Ice occasionally has sharp edges that can sever a dog’s paws.

Observe the Time in Cold Weather

Dogs should not endure prolonged exposure to the cold, just like humans. A dog’s paws and other body parts are susceptible to frostbite. Fortunately, if you pay attention to the time, it shouldn’t be an issue. Cold temperatures are usually safe as long as dogs are only running around in the snow for a short while.

Consider Boots or Foot Wax

Dogs can still gain protection even though their paws are better suited to the cold and snow than human feet. If you intend to walk a dog in the snow, it is best to equip them with snow booties, preferably ones with some traction on the bottom to prevent slipping. This will shield your dog’s paws from the cold, ice, and salt. Foot wax is another option if your dog doesn’t like boots, but it can be more difficult because wax wears off and might not be appropriately applied.

Hot Asphalt Should Be Avoided

Dogs spend more time outside during the summer, but as the temperature rises, there are many paw hazards to be aware of. Asphalt surfaces are particularly good at absorbing the sun’s heat. Their paw pads cannot withstand hot temperatures for walking barefoot. Avoid walking dogs in the heat on paved surfaces as a general rule.

Dogs walking on hot surfaces risk getting pad burns, which can result in tissue loss, blistering, and excruciating pain. Even if you are careful, dogs may spend too much time on hot surfaces, so checking their paws for burns is crucial. Limping, licking the paw, a discolored pad, or bleeding are a few symptoms of pad burns.

Check Your Dog’s Paws After Walks

Although hiking is a great warm-weather activity, it can also be dangerous due to rocky terrain and unforeseen objects. Although you should be mindful of the surfaces your dog is walking on, sometimes that is insufficient. It can be helpful to watch where they are walking, but occasionally they may step on glass or other objects that could lacerate their paw pads or the paws themselves. On walks, dogs can get thorns, burs, or sharp objects stuck in their paws. A veterinarian might need to sedate your dog to remove the object if it is safely embedded.

Additionally, the first thing to do if you see your dog’s paws bleeding is to apply pressure to help stop the bleeding while making arrangements for veterinary care.

Take Walks When It’s Cooler

The summer heat may require you to rethink your usual walking routine in favor of one that is more convenient for you and your dog. Dog experts advise going for short walks in the morning or the evening, giving your dog plenty of water, and supplementing your walks with indoor playtime.

Get Your Dog Used to Touch His Paws

Numerous dogs dislike having their paws touched. This may cause issues when grooming the animal or if a paw injury does occur. However, these issues can be easily avoided if you own a puppy.

People should get their new puppy used to having its feet handled and nails clipped as soon as possible. When puppies are exposed to that as early as possible, it makes life much less stressful for everyone as they grow into adults.

Maintain Nail Trimming

The frequency with which a dog’s nails should be trimmed varies by breed and lifestyle, but you should be aware of it.

The longer the nails, the easier they are to split and tear off, which can lead to infection, aside from being extremely painful.

However, some dogs’ nails are naturally filed down, so they don’t need to be trimmed as frequently: if dogs walk a lot on pavement, this acts as an automatic nail file. Experts advise keeping a close eye on the dewclaw, the nail higher up on the leg that does not make contact with the ground and can easily become overgrown.

Take Caution When Using Floor Cleaners

Some floor cleaners have harsh chemicals that are bad for your dog’s paws.

With wet paws and a desire to lick the substance off, they run the risk of ingesting additional chemicals in addition to the risk of their skin absorbing the chemicals directly from the floor.

Check Your Dog’s Paws Regularly

If you regularly check your dog’s paws, you may be able to identify any paw problems early. For instance, red skin could signify that an infection is beginning.

Even if your dog seems to be acting normally, take the time to look. Dogs will run incessantly until worn out, and their paw pads bear most of the strain. All it takes is to look at them and recognize that they are fine.

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