Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Their Paws?

Written by: Deanna deBara

January 24, 2019

There are plenty of dog behaviors that might leave you scratching your head—like why does your pup run around in circles chasing their tail? Why do they hide under the bed every time you want to give them a bath? And for goodness’ sake, why do they insist on hiding their toys in every nook and cranny of your house?

Dogs have plenty of puzzling behaviors, but most of them are harmless. Most—but not all. If you notice your dog licking and biting their paws, you need to pay attention—because it could be a sign of a bigger problem.

So, the question is—why does your dog keep licking their paws? What does it mean? And, more importantly, how can you get them to stop (and make sure he’s comfortable in the process)?

Why Does Your Dog Keep Licking Their Paws?

golden retriever

So, first things first—why does your dog keep licking and biting their paws?

There’s no definitive answer. There are a number of reasons your dog might be licking or biting their paws—and none of them are particularly pleasant.

There’s Something Lodged In Their Paws

It would be pretty irritating to have something stuck in between your fingers and toes. And if there was, you’d do everything to get it out, right?

Of course you would—and it’s the same thing for your pup. If there’s something lodged between your dog’s paws (like burrs or grass awns), your dog is going to do their best to get it out—and that’s where the biting and licking comes from.

They’re Having An Allergic Reaction

If your dog is having an allergic reaction (for example, to food), it can make the skin around their paws itchy and sensitive. They could be licking their paws in an effort to alleviate the oh-so-itchy sensation he’s experiencing as a result of their allergy.

They Have An Injury

If your dog has an injury, like a cut or rash, they could be licking to alleviate some of the pain. Think of it as a self-soothing technique.

Whatever the reason, if your dog is licking or biting their paws—and especially if it comes on suddenly or persists for an extended period of time—chances are, he’s dealing with some serious discomfort. And the worst part? The more your dog licks their paws, the more irritated and itchy the skin will get—and the more he’ll be tempted to lick. Too much paw licking can also cause yeast or bacterial infections—which is not exactly fun for your pup.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Licking Their Paws

terrier mix dog

If you notice your dog licking their paws, call your vet. They’re the best people to determine what’s behind your dog’s paw licking behavior—and, more importantly, how to treat it.

At your appointment, make sure to give your vet as much information as you can about your dog’s behavior. Did the licking start at a certain time? Has your dog been exposed to anything new that could be causing an allergic reaction? Is this a new behavior for your dog or does they fall in the “chronic paw licker” category? The more information your vet has, the better they can diagnose your dog—and, more importantly, the better they can treat your dog and get them out of their itchy, paw licking misery.

Get Your Dog To Stop Licking (And Start Relaxing!)

dog chewing on trachea chew bone

Obviously, you want your dog to feel happy, healthy, and comfortable. So, if you notice your dog licking their paws, don’t just think “why does my dog keep licking their paws?” Instead, get them to the vet—and get them out of discomfort ASAP.

Written by: Deanna deBara

January 24, 2019

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