Dog Care: Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

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Why do dogs lick their paws?

Being a dog owner, you may have come across instances where your pet buddy is licking his paws. Why they do it, you might ask. Or, if it is even normal? 

The short answer is: Occasional paw-licking is normal; excessive licking is, however, not!

Dogs licking their paws is a super common behavior. But excessive licking means your dog may be experiencing some health issues and is trying to inform you about that through his actions. That is how dogs conduct their business, don’t they?

This article addresses questions of dog owners such as why do dogs lick their paws in depth. When it is normal, and when you have to be alarmed?

Let’s find out!

Why Your Dog Licks His Paws?

You might be well aware that dogs try to sniff and lick everything they see. They see your hand, they start licking it; they see a bottle, they start licking it; and, if nothing else, they see their paws, they start licking it. Licking is their natural instinct, and you shouldn’t be getting worried about that.

You should be only worried when he is spending all of his time licking his paws. If he isn’t playing anymore, isn’t goofing around anymore, and isn’t licking you anymore, there is something that’s troubling him.

Your adorable innocent dog can’t use words to explain to you what’s bothering him. You have to be vigilant about his signs to detect the issue. In this particular case, your pooch might be licking his paws either because of underlying health issues or simply because of mood swings. But how would you differentiate a health issue from mood swings?

Health Concerns And Dog Paw-Licking


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Most dog breeds have high energy levels, and they tend to move around a lot. Your dog may be one of them.

Dogs are prone to getting injuries all the time. Though they have strong paw pads, still they can get injured by stepping on a thorn, a shard of glass, or walking on the hot or slated surface of the sidewalks, etc. Dogs also lick their paw if a small stone, wood piece, or hair knots get stuck between their paws. They also lick their paws when something heavy falls on their feet or stung by a bee.

If your dog suddenly starts licking his paws and whines, most likely it is one of the above reasons.

Body Pains

Secondly, body pains. Your dog might be licking his paws due to body pains. These pains can be because of arthritis, foot or leg conditions, hip or elbow dysplasia, and muscular weakness, etc. These diseases cause unbearable pain to your innocent dog, which he tries to alleviate by licking his paws.

If your dog sits in the corner and slowly licks his paws and floor around him, it may be because of body pains.


The most common cause of a dog licking his paws is fleas, ticks, yeast, other parasites, etc. But licking makes his paws more damp and humid, aiding parasites to grow more.

These tiny creatures bite your dog or buzz around his head, irritating your dog, causing him to lick his paws. Such type of paw licking is once in a while, and you’d be able to comprehend the reason quickly.

Food and Environmental Allergies

The habit of licking everything can be perilous for your dogs. Tasting all the edible and non-edible things can shift viruses and bacteria’s into a dog’s stomach, causing food allergies. Dogs have a sensitive stomach; intake of excessive nutrients can create stomach upsets.

Your dog can get food allergies from dairy products, eggs, beef, lambs, soy, gluten, etc. They are also susceptible to getting allergies from pollen, air fresheners, perfumes, etc.

These allergies cause itching to your dog, leading him to lick his paws. It is difficult to find out if the reason behind dog paw licking is their allergies. If food or environmental allergy is the culprit, the licking will be slow but repetitive.


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Lastly, skin allergies.

Skin allergies can occur because of long-term exposure to the sun, ingredients in dog shampoo, the material of feeding utensils, floor cleaning chemicals, and paints, etc.

Dogs are exposed to these things quite often—in fact, all the time.

Sweating and over-shampooing your dog can cause itchiness and skin dryness that makes dogs scratch their skin. When the itching starts, they try to find relief in licking their paws.

These are some of the health conditions that are causing your dog to slurp on his feet. Make sure that you visit a vet and get your dog a complete medical examination to locate the exact cause.

If everything is checked, but the behavior is still prevalent, then maybe health is not the culprit.

Scroll down to find one!

Behavioral Issues And Paw-Licking

If it is not health, the culprit may be behavioral issues.

Most dogs are highly energetic and agile. They need proper physical activities and exercises to keep their energy levels stable. Usually, 30 to 60 minutes of exercise is enough for canines. But if, due to your busy schedule, you couldn’t spare time, your dog is likely to feel sad and depressed, and start licking his paws. Being lively and playful creatures, dogs become agitated and irritable by boredom, which stimulates compulsive behaviors such as circling around, excessive barking, shredding furniture, and paw licking.  

Along with physical exercises, keep your dog mentally occupied with different games such as dog puzzles, hide and seek, hot and cold game, stuffed Kong, shell game, etc.

Dog licking his paws is quite common. But you have to be vigilant if he is doing that excessively or casually.

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