Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

Repetitive behaviors can be frustrating for everyone involved. If your dog continually licks their paws, it can be a nuisance to you, but your dog is probably having a difficult time.

Why do dogs lick their paws, and what can we do to help them break the habit when it becomes problematic? Today we take a look at how to help our dogs with excessive paw licking.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

There are many reasons why a dog would lick their paws. Take a look below to see if you can narrow down a reason your dog might be licking their paws.


A dog will often lick their paws if they are experiencing pain. This is especially the case if your dog has suddenly started licking their paws a lot. They may have stepped on a thorn or piece of broken glass. They could have broken a nail otherwise.

If your dog is licking their paw a lot and is limping, it’s time to head to the vet. You can inspect your dog’s paw to see if anything is causing their pain. Even if you can’t see anything, don’t ignore your dog’s licking. They can be experiencing a lot of pain, but most dogs won’t make known they are hurting. Take them to the vet to make sure they are safe. There could be a sprain or even a fracture that you can’t see but will not get better without attention.


It might not be common knowledge, but dogs suffer from allergies as well. A dog’s allergies can be caused by several things as well. Their diet, carpet cleaning products, or even weeding chemicals can cause a dog to lick their paw.

If you check their paw and it doesn’t look cut or otherwise hurt, see if you can track down what makes them lick their paw. Do they start licking right after taking your regular walk? Do they lick after lounging on the couch? Finding the real cause of their licking can be frustrating, but removing the allergen is the only way to help.

If you are pulling your hair out trying to figure out the real cause, take your dog to the vet. They will be able to do bloodwork to figure out what the reason is.


Your dog may only be licking themself because they are bored. No matter how big your dog is, they need to exercise. Of course, big dogs are going to need to burn off more energy than smaller dogs. If you don’t let your dog get their energy out in positive ways, they may think of destructive ways instead.

Be sure that your dog is getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Also, it would help if you didn’t leave them in a crate or tied up in the back yard. Ensure they can tire themselves out so they will not be looking for an outlet for all their energy.


Another significant source of destructive behaviors is anxiety. Anxiety can make a dog act very strangely, and licking their paw is usually the least of your worries if you have an anxious dog. If your dog is licking themself raw, this can develop into other severe conditions. If you suspect your dog is licking themself because of their anxiety. Be sure to have a consultation with your vet.

Dry Skin

Another common reason for a dog to lick their paw is dry skin. We’ve probably all felt itchy from merely having dry skin. Your dog is no different. Dry skin can be caused by changes in the weather or changes in bathing patterns. Dry skin can even be breed-specific.

If you suspect your dog is licking because of dry skin, try to relax their bathing habits, or even provide them with a pet-safe moisturizer. Many companies make a moisturizer for dogs’ paws. You can also use coconut oil as an alternative.


A widespread reason for dogs licking their paws is due to pests. Fleas and ticks can bring a bunch of problems with them. Having your dog lick their paws is only one.

Be sure to get rid of these pests by using a topical medication. These can be prescribed to you by your vet, but there are many remedies available at your local pet store.

If your dog’s licking becomes severe, you’ll have to see the vet. Not only can your vet recommend ways to help slow down your dog’s licking, but in some cases, they may even prescribe medicine. Whatever it takes, helping your dog quit the habit will improve their quality of life.