Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws? 7 Common Reasons

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Dogs lick their paws more frequently than you might think. Many dog owners express confusion and concern over why their furry friend is licking their paws.

Dogs use their paws to express their feelings. As a result of this, any anxieties or injuries may manifest in how your dog treats their paws.

Whilst watching your dog lick or bite their paws might provoke confusion and concern, we can use how your dog treats their paws as an indication of how they’re feeling.

Don’t forget that dogs will lick their paws as part of regular grooming. If they do this from time to time, especially after a long walk or a trip out, this is completely normal! Your dog is simply washing after a dirty day out.

However, if you’re noticing your dog is licking or biting their paws excessively, this could be an indication of a more serious problem. The positive is, you have identified your dog’s habits aren’t normal, and you’re on the way to helping them recover.

Paw licking can be an indication of numerous conditions, some minor and some more serious. In this article, we outline the common reasons why your dog might be licking their paws so you can give your furry friend the help they need.

Dogs Lick Their Paws

7 Common Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

1. Grooming

As mentioned previously, your dog might be licking their paws as part of their regular grooming habits. This is completely normal and just shows your dog cares about their hygiene!

If you think your dog is licking their paws excessively, this likely isn’t just their regular grooming and you need to investigate some of the other reasons listed below.

2. Injury/Pain

One of the more serious reasons your dog is licking their paws could be due to injury or pain. Your dog may have hurt their paws on a walk and is licking them to help numb the pain. Injuries of this nature could be the result of thorns, insect stings, or burns.

To tend to issues of this nature, gently inspect your dog’s paws for any visible injuries. Tend to these if you can, but if you’re concerned about causing your dog further distress, seek advice from a vet as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, licking paws can also be a signal of larger health problems. Your dog may be suffering from arthritis, cysts or cancers. These may not be in your dog’s paws; you dog could be licking their paws as comfort and a distraction from pain elsewhere in their body.

If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from any of these conditions, you need to speak to a vet.

3. Skin Conditions

Your dog could be licking their paws because of a skin condition. Dry skin is extremely common amongst dogs and can cause irritability.

There are several reasons your dog might be experiencing dry skin. Allergies and parasites are two common reasons we will explore later in this article. However, the most common cause of dry skin in dogs is inadequate grooming.

You must have a good grooming schedule for your dog. This grooming schedule needs to be tailored to your dog’s breed and its environment. For all dogs, we recommend not overbathing them. If you bathe your dog too much, you will strip their skin of its natural oils, resulting in dryness and itchiness.

4. Fleas

As mentioned previously, parasites can be the cause of your dog licking their paws. Your dog might have itchy skin from these parasites and is licking their paws as a way to relieve this. 

Fleas are the most common parasite and are something lots of dog owners have to deal with. Thankfully, due to their commonality, fleas are easy to handle. 

To stop fleas troubling your dog, you can buy at-home flea treatments, or take them to the vets to resolve the issue.

5. Allergies

Your dog may be suffering from food or environmental allergies that are causing them to lick their paws. These allergies could develop into dermatitis (an itchy skin disease) if not treated.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are difficult to identify. If your dog is suffering from food allergies, they may also have diarrhoea, vomiting, and hot spots. You need to speak to a registered vet and try to identify what it is in your dog’s diet that they’re allergic to. From there, you can set up a new diet plan that suits your dog’s digestion.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies are slightly easier to identify. If you’re noticing your dog is licking their paws after being outside, they may have an environmental allergy. 

This allergy could be a reaction to dust, pollen, or even mould. If your dog has an environmental allergy, you may notice them sneezing, having watery eyes or rashes when you return home. 

There are several ways to help your dog’s environmental allergy. These include changes in diet, air filters, increased hygiene. 

If you do think your pet is suffering from an allergy, food or environment, it’s best to speak to a vet first. They’ll be able to diagnose your dog’s problem and provide the best treatment for your pooch.

6. Boredom

Your dog licking their paws may simply be a sign of boredom. It’s not uncommon for dogs to lick or bite their paws when bored or wanting attention. 

This boredom could result in behavioural problems if not addressed, so even if you think your dog is just playing up, it’s best to treat the issue. To do this, you can invest in new engaging toys, or hire a behavioural specialist or trainer.

7. Anxiety

Dogs will lick their paws if they’re feeling anxious or unsettled. Your dog might start licking their paws as a source of comfort and then become accustomed to it.

Again, this could transpire into behavioural problems or cause more stress for your furry friend. If you think your dog might be licking their paws due to feelings of anxiety, you need to speak to a vet.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Biting His Paws?

If your dog has gone from licking to biting their paws, you need to speak to a professional immediately. This aggressive action may indicate your dog is in distress. Your dog could be suffering from intense anxiety. Speak to your vet and get your dog diagnosed as soon as possible.

Should I Be Worried About my Dog Licking His Paws?

You need to be cautious of why your dog is licking their paws. While your dog might simply be grooming or experiencing minor behavioural issues, licking can also suggest more serious health problems. 

In this article, we’ve identified the reasons your dog could be licking their paws. These reasons range from the super-serious to the minor. Hopefully, this article has provided some clarity on why your dog could be licking their paws.

If you’re seriously concerned about your dog, the best thing to do for them is to take them to see a vet. 

Are Some Dog Breeds More Likely To Lick Their Paws?

Whilst no breed is more likely to lick their paws, certain dog breeds are more susceptible to conditions than others. 

As a dog owner, you should be aware of the health conditions common amongst your dog’s breed.

Summary

As we’ve outlined in this article, there are numerous reasons why dogs lick their paws. These reasons can range from the minor to the much more serious. 

Whilst your dog could be licking their paws due to habit, they could also be licking them because of a health issue. Your pooch could be trying to tell you they’re suffering and that they need your help.

No one knows your dog better than you, and so, you’ll likely have some inclination as to the reason why your dog is licking their paws. This article has outlined the different reasons dogs lick their paws to help you draw on this conclusion. 

If you think your dog might be licking their paws due to serious health risk or a discomforting condition, seek the advice of a vet. Speaking to a trained professional will give you a definitive answer as to why your dog is licking their paws so you can resolve the issue.

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