Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws?


Have you noticed your dog licking and chewing at his paws a lot? Does this seem like an excessive behavior for your furry friend? Is it a new problem that has only just start happening in recent days or weeks?

A dog licking his paws

The good news is that paw licking isn’t usually a sign of anything fatal or terribly serious. But you should still take your dog to the vet if you notice this problem going on without stopping.

Paw licking can be a sign of many underlying problems. It’s important to get to the bottom of your dog’s paw licking problem so you can help him break the habit and feel better, too. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common causes of paw licking in dogs so you can better determine what’s causing your dog’s strange behavior.

Nervousness and Anxiety Can Cause a Dog to Lick His Paws

When dogs are nervous or anxious, they may start biting, chewing, or licking their paws. This behavior is similar to a human nervously biting their fingernails. If your dog is afraid of situations, such as storms or loud noises, you may notice this behavior more often during those times.

Additionally, dogs who have separation anxiety are often prone to chewing their feet in the same way. Dogs may become very anxious when left alone or separated from their owners, and they may show multiple behavioral signs of this anxiety. Paw licking is just one of the many signs to look out for.

Dogs Lick Their Paws From Boredom

If your dog isn’t getting enough stimulation in a day—or if he’s not getting much exercise—he may become bored. A bored dog is more likely to develop bad habits to occupy his time, and licking his paws might be one of those.

If you think your dog’s licking his paws because he’s bored, make sure to play with him a little bit every day. Take him on walks or, at the very least, let him have some time to run and play in the backyard. Interact with him and give him at least 30 minutes a day for best results.

Parasites Make Dogs Lick Their Paws

Parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites will all cause your dog to start licking his paws in certain situations. Very serious flea infestations may spread down your dog’s legs and to his feet. Although fleas don’t usually focus on a dog’s paws, they will if the rest of the dog’s body is already infested.

Mites are less likely on a dog’s feet but may still occur. Your dog may also have a tick on his foot or leg, so be sure to check closely between his toes and around his paw pad to be sure.

Dogs Lick Their Paws Due to Fungal or Bacterial Skin Infections

Dogs who have fungal infections on their paws are likely to lick their paws often to provide some relief. The same is true of bacterial skin infections. Both of these problems, however, generally get worse with licking, so you may have to put your dog in a cone collar to stop this behavior for a while if he has an infection.

Your dog may cause himself to develop hot spots, which are itchy, skin lesions that result from constant licking, biting and scratching of a particular area. These areas can become secondarily infected and may require antibiotic therapy, but not always. Treating these areas is aimed that eliminating the trigger or cause of the hot spots, improving the comfort of your pet and treating any secondary change that may have occurred.

Contact Allergies Can Cause Dogs to Lick Their Paws

If your dog is allergic to something he’s regularly coming into contact with, he may start chewing or licking his paws often. For example, dogs who are allergic to a type of pollen present in the backyard may lick their paws a lot after coming back in from playing outside or taking walks.

This might also occur if your dog is sensitive to the chemicals used to treat your lawn. If you find this happening often, you might want to look into pet-safe and all-natural methods of lawn treatment to protect your pets from this type of exposure while they’re outside.

Dogs With Insect Bites Tend to Lick Their Paws

If your dog steps on a bee or wasp, he’s probably going to get stung. And if he steps on a spider or a fire ant, he’ll probably be bitten. If something like this occurs, you may notice your dog licking his paws frantically without stopping. In the case of insect bites or stings, your dog is more likely to focus on a single paw rather than licking all of his paws

Pay attention to insect bites or stings. If they swell, turn a strange color, or cause your dog serious pain, you may need to take him to the vet.

Dogs Suffering From Food Allergies Lick Their Paws

When dogs have food allergies, one of the most common symptoms is itching skin. Dogs with very itchy paws may be prone to licking and chewing them, so this could be an indication that your dog has a food allergy.

If you think your dog is allergic to something he’s eating, work with your vet to figure out what the ingredient might be. From there, you’ll need to change your dog’s diet and feed him a high-quality food that doesn’t contain whatever the ingredient might be. Your vet can give you more information and guidance as to how to deal with food allergies in dogs.

See a Vet if Your Dog Keeps Licking His Paws

Do you think one of these problems might be causing your dog to lick his paws? These are just some of the potential causes of excessive paw licking in dogs, so it’s important to remember that there are other possibilities as well. Only your vet can tell you for sure what’s causing your dog’s behavior as well as how to treat it.

You should schedule a vet visit sooner rather than later if you notice your dog keeps licking their paws. If the problem is left alone and not treated for too long, then more inflammatory and secondary problems can result. This would then require a longer and more intensive course of therapy to reverse the chronic changes. Your dog is likely to be uncomfortable due to itching and burning, and he may end up doing more harm than good by constantly licking his feet, too.

At OrlandoVets, we discover the reason why your dog keeps licking his paws and devise a treatment plan that will help with whatever is causing this behavior in your dog. Whether the situation calls for a treatment for dog allergies or treatment for a bite or sting, our veterinarians are here to help your pet feel better.

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