Why Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Jackapoo licking his paws to highlight why dogs lick their paws

Why Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Well, Dogs lick their paws and you probably have seen them doing this activity and have ignored them.


Have you ever thought about why dogs lick their paws for no obvious reason(s)? Dogs do weird things and have complex behavior too! Licking their paws is one of them…

Exploring the complexities of canine behavior is both a mesmerizing journey and an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership. This search not only satisfies our curiosity but also helps improve our knowledge to better understand our most loyal friends for centuries.

Probably, you have seen dogs licking their paws and might have wondered why they do that. Like you, many others are also curious to know about this weird behavior of dogs. We receive many emails asking “Why dogs lick their paws?”

In response, our expert Dr. Glory (DVM) shares this insightful answer to unravel the mystery behind this canine behavior.

Unveiling Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

Dogs are known for their weird behaviors, and one of them is licking their paws. While it may seem like a harmless habit, it could be indicative of underlying health issues.

Before we can address the issue, first, it’s important to understand why dogs lick their paws. Dogs use their mouths to explore the world, and their paws are no exception. Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, and it’s one way they clean themselves.

However, excessive licking can be a sign of discomfort or distress.

Remember, not all paw-licking is problematic. Dogs may lick their paws after a meal, after going outside, or when they’re trying to relax. Be alert when you notice that the paw-licking in your dog is obsessive.

Normal vs. Excessive Paw Licking by Dogs

Normal licking is usually brief and doesn’t cause any noticeable harm. Your dog may lick their paws to clean them or soothe themselves before sleeping. On the other hand, excessive licking is persistent and can lead to redness, swelling, and even open sores. If your dog is licking their paws to the point of causing harm, it’s time to seek professional help.

Also, pay attention to the timing of the licking. If your dog only licks their paws at certain times, like after going outside, it may be a reaction to something in their environment. However, if the licking is constant, it could be a sign of a more serious issue.

Why Dogs Lick Their Paws-Possible Causes

There are several reasons why your dog might be licking their paws excessively. These can range from environmental factors to physical health issues. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Allergies

Allergies are two of the most common causes of paw licking in dogs. These can be food allergies, environmental allergies, or even allergies to certain types of fabric or carpet. When a dog is allergic to something, their body reacts by causing inflammation, which can lead to itching and discomfort.

If your dog is licking his paws and also showing other signs of allergies, like sneezing, itchy skin, or red eyes, it’s worth talking to your vet about possible allergy testing and treatment options.

Dog Paw to highlight soreness for which dogs lick their paws

  • Injury or Pain

Dogs may also lick their paws if they’re in pain. This could be due to a minor injury, like a cut or scrape, or a more serious issue, like arthritis or a broken bone. If your dog is limping or showing other signs of pain, it’s important to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.

Even if you can’t see any obvious signs of injury, your dog could still be in pain. Dogs are very good at hiding their pain, so it’s important to pay attention to their behavior and seek help if you notice any changes.

Askal dog paw bandage by a vet to highlight paw injuries

What to Do When Your Dog Licks Paws

If your dog is licking their paws excessively, there are several things you can do to help. The first step is to identify the cause of the licking. Once you know what’s causing the problem, you can take steps to address it.

  • Consult a Vet

The best thing you can do for your dog is to consult a vet. They can perform a thorough examination and run tests to determine the cause of the licking. They can also provide treatment options and advice on how to prevent future issues.

Even if you think the licking is due to a minor issue, it’s still worth getting your dog checked out. What seems like a minor issue could be a sign of a more serious problem, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Vet checking an Australian cattle dog's paw for allergy signs

  • Provide a Healthy Environment

The best way to help your dog is to provide a healthy environment. This includes feeding them a balanced diet, providing plenty of exercise, and keeping their living area clean. If your dog is allergic to something in their environment, removing the allergen can help reduce their symptoms.

Regular grooming can also help reduce paw licking. Keeping your dog’s paws clean and trimmed can help prevent infections and other issues. If your dog has long hair, regular trimming can help prevent matting and tangling, which can cause discomfort and lead to excessive licking.

Let’s Wrap it Up!

In conclusion, paw licking is a common behavior in dogs, but excessive licking can be a sign of a problem. If your dog is licking their paws more than usual, it’s important to seek professional help. With the right treatment and care, you can help your dog stop licking their paws and start living a happier, healthier life.

Glory (Ene) Sunday
DVM | Expert in Animal Nutrition and Planning

Glory (Ene) Sunday is a Veterinary Surgeon with extensive experience in animal clinical practice and a deep understanding of OneHealth. She is dedicated to elevating animal well-being through cost-effective disease prevention strategies. Proficient in animal nutrition, treatment, surgery, and diagnostics, she is passionate about empowering pet lovers/communities with cutting-edge approaches related to pet/animal health and well-being.