Understand 5 reasons dogs lick their paws and learn to stop it

Dogs lick their feet when they’re bored. They also lick feet due to injuries or reactions to allergens, injuries, insect bites, or stings.

If you are a dog owner, you likely want to know what to do if dogs lick their paws excessively. Generally, dogs lick their feet to keep them clean and prevent infections.

Dog saliva works as an antibacterial and cleanser for the most infectious parts of its body. It contains an enzyme called lysozyme that breaks the chemical bonds in bacterial cell walls and the antibody IgA (immunoglobulin A), which directly attacks bacteria. 

Therefore, it’s good for dogs to lick their feet if they are dirty or wounded. But when dogs lick their feet obsessively, that could be problematic. 

This article will identify the causes of dogs licking their paws and discuss the cures, tips, and tricks to tackle this issue.

Why do dogs lick their paws?


First and foremost, dogs lick their paws as a natural way of cleaning and maintaining hygiene. However, if it’s happening more often, you may be concerned that something may be wrong. There could be several reasons dogs lick their feet excessively.


A dog’s paw is considered one of the most vulnerable parts of a dog’s body. Feet are sensitive to harsh chemicals, irritants, and pesticides. Similarly, walking on a dirt path or sidewalk can cause several infections. 


Fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, mosquito repellents, or dirt paths create an unhygienic environment that can cause infections.


Clean your dog’s paws by soaking them in warm, soapy water. Then rinse them with clean water before drying them thoroughly with a soft cloth.


Allergies commonly cause dogs to lick their paws. Just like humans, dogs also suffer from allergies. Dogs with itchy feet lick them to get relief. 


Mosquitoes, tick and flea bites, allergens, toxins, environmental conditions, food, or flea allergens can cause itchy paws.


If your dog is allergic to its food, you’ll need to find another healthy food. You must clean the area to remove the irritant if the problem is something in your dog’s environment. First, eliminate the pest when flea, tick, or mosquito bites cause an allergic reaction. Then focus on treating the allergy.

Injuries or wounds 

Watch where you take your dog for walks. Watch for dangers like broken glass or rough surfaces like rocks or gravel that can injure your dog’s paws. 


Several factors, including broken glass, nails, or gravel, can cause wounds or injuries. 


Check the paws and clean them if you suspect something’s stuck to your dog’s paws. If you notice your dog has a minor scrape or abrasion, you can use basic first-aid to treat the injury. But if you discover your dog has a severe cut, take your dog to the vet.


As your dog gets older, it may experience arthritis or joint problems and start licking its paws to self-soothe. 


Arthritis and joint diseases cause pain and discomfort.


If your dog suffers from arthritis or joint disease, keep your dog at a healthy weight, feed them the right food and give them joint supplements.


If you plan to adopt a dog, you should know most dogs love to play. Because they are pack animals and get attached to their humans, when you leave your dog alone, it may feel bored or stressed. In those situations, dogs may start licking their paws to self-soothe.


When your dog is left alone for too long without anything to keep it busy, it can become bored and destructive.


You can try several options to help your dog. To help your dog spend time home alone, establish a schedule, create a safe space, and entertain and exercise your dog before leaving. 

Why do dogs lick their paws?

If your dog is excessively licking its paws, try to figure out why and find a solution to solve the problem. Unsure what to do, consult your veterinarian to determine the best treatment options. 

When dogs lick their paws, it could be a natural way of cleansing, but if your dog excessively licks its paws, it could signify any paws-related health issues.

There are several reasons why dogs lick their paws,

  • Injuries or wounds
  • Arthritis or joint pain 
  • Boredom 
  • Allergies 
  • Infections 

Does your dog lick its paws when bored?

Yes, when dogs are bored, they may start licking their paws. Dogs also lick their paws due to injuries or reactions to allergens, injuries, or insect bites or stings. 

Should you let your dog lick its paws?

Generally, licking is natural, and if your dog doesn’t do it excessively, it’s OK. 

But if your dog licks excessively, you need to discover why and find a solution. 

Clean dirty paws. If your dog’s paws are wounded or infected, treat them.

Suman Khan has been a dog lover since she was born. She’s a poet, an activist, and a freelance writer for dogsgeek.com. She enjoys animal rights activities, walking outdoors with her German Shepherd, and writing about dogs. You can reach sumanprowriter@gmail.com.


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