Why do Dogs Lick Their Paws

Dogs have many quirks that their owners will either find endearing or extremely annoying. One of these many quirks that are universal for most dogs is the habit of licking their paws. While occasional licking is nothing to worry about and your dog is probably just cleaning themselves, there are times when paw licking is a problem. 

If your dog struggles with licking its paws often, GoodCharlie Energy has the answers. In general, there are seven reasons why your dog will lick their paws. Some of them are reasons for concern while others are nothing to worry about. However, the only way to know for sure is to pay attention to your dog and get to the bottom of why they’re licking their paws.  


  1. Why do Dogs Lick Their Paws So Much? 
  2. Is It Dangerous for Dogs to Lick Their Paws Too Much? 
  3. How do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking His Paws? 
  4. When Should I Contact My Vet? 

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Why do Dogs Lick Their Paws So Much? 

Anxiety or Boredom 

All lifeforms, whether it be people or animals, have forms of self-soothing when they’re anxious or stressed. For dogs, one of the ways they calm their nerves is by licking their paws. It’s similar to how dogs will shred wood, furniture, pillows, and other household items. They get stressed out because of changes around the house or because they’re worried you’re going to leave them, and they lick their paws in an effort to calm down. 

It’s also possible that your dog is simply bored. A good way to tell if this is the reason your dog is licking their paws is to take them on a walk or to a dog park. If they get home and aren’t licking their paws, there’s a good chance that they were simply bored. 

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A Paw Infection 

One of the main reasons that dogs will lick their paws is because of an infection. Infection can result from an injury, skin condition, or parasite. No matter the reason for the infection, however, your dog will lick their paw because they think it will help them feel better or take away the pain. 

Fleas or Parasites 

Fleas and parasites are another major reason for paw licking in dogs. Fleas are mangy, irritating little insects that bite whatever parts of dogs they can get a hold of, including the paws. It’s also possible that your dog has a mosquito bite or bee sting on their paw, which will also result in excessive licking in an effort to soothe the itch or pain of the parasite. 

Skin or Food Allergies 

Just as with people, dogs are prone to skin and food allergies. In regards to skin allergies, dermatitis is the main culprit. Dog dermatitis usually happens if they walk across a surface that’s been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals that they’re allergic to. It won’t always result in scabs or broken skin, but it will certainly result in excessive licking to ease the discomfort. 

Food allergies are also a possible culprit. Contrary to what people think, dogs are sometimes allergic to certain dog foods. It’s important to pay attention to your dog when you first start them on new dog food. If they itch or lick themselves excessively, there’s a good chance that they’re allergic to the food you’re feeding them. 


Most people know that cats will lick themselves to clean or groom themselves. However, dogs will do the same thing on a slightly more limited basis. Dogs typically won’t lick their entire bodies, but they do lick their paws, legs, and nether regions to keep them clean. However, when they’re cleaning themselves, dogs will only lick their paws occasionally and for short amounts of time. If they’re overly persistent with their licking, there’s probably another reason for it. 

An Injury or Broken Claw 

From previous experience, a broken claw or paw injury is another extremely common reason for paw licking. Walking your dog on a hot surface for too long could scrape the pads of their claws and cause an injury. This can also happen if they run and stop quickly on a rough surface and injure their paws. 

It’s also possible that they have a broken claw on one of their paws. If the licking is focused on a single paw rather than all of them, this is likely the reason. While all claws are prone to breaking, the thumb or dewclaws are especially susceptible. For this reason, many dog owners choose to have the dewclaws removed when their dog is a young puppy. 


Whether it’s because of one of the reasons listed above or something completely different, pain is a major reason for paw licking. Pain can be the result of a self-sustained injury or simply because your dog is getting older and has joint problems. Either way, the pain can gravitate to the paws which means your dog is going to be doing some serious licking. 

Is It Dangerous for Dogs to Lick Their Paws Too Much?

Is It Dangerous for Dogs to Lick Their Paws Too Much? 

Excessive licking of the paws can cause moisture to build up on their surface. A buildup of moisture can then lead to a yeast or bacterial infection, which is very dangerous for dogs and will lead to further licking. For that reason, it’s important that you don’t let your dog lick their paws too much. 

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How do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking His Paws? 

If you want your dog to stop licking their paws, you can try to train the habit out of them using treats as a reward system. If that doesn’t work, however, you may want to invest in a pair of dog shoes or boots. They might not be happy that they can’t lick their paws, but a little irritation is better than excessive licking resulting in an infection. 

When Should I Contact My Vet?

When Should I Contact My Vet? 

If your dog is licking their paws more than usual, it’s possible that they have an injury, infection, parasite, broken claw, or allergy. If the licking is being caused by any of these things, it’s important to contact your vet about what’s going on. 

Or, if you’re lucky enough to have GoodCharlie Energy as your electricity provider, you can contact them via your telehealth vet emergency access. If an in-person visit is deemed as necessary, you can then dip into GoodCharlie’s pet emergency fund to pay for it. 

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