You might have noticed your dog spending a lot more time than usual licking their paws. There are many reasons why a dog might lick his paws. Some are more serious than others. Here we look at the common reasons and answer the question “Why do dogs lick their paws?”

Grooming

Sometimes when your dog is having a good old nibble at his extremities, it is purely to clean himself. If he has been on a muddy walk or had a bathe post walk, he may just be finishing off the job. As well as his paws, he may lick his legs, bottom and bits, and other bits of himself he can reach. This is completely normal dog behaviour. If however, you think your dog is licking his paws beyond what is needed/normal for grooming, then a bit more attention and investigation may be needed.

Pain?

You should check for any obvious signs of injury at the sight where he is licking. He may have hurt his paw and this is his way of trying to self sooth any pain. Check for any cuts, bites, punctures or any unusual physiology. If it is obvious and simple you may be able to self treat at home with salty water and something to stop him licking. However, if it more serious you may need to consult you vet. But if there is nothing obvious visually, you may need the vet to check him over for things like arthritis.

Irritation and Allergies

Why do dogs lick their paws? You may see that your dog has very dry pads or itchy pads. This would explain licking of the paws. If there some irritation, you may need to figure out what has caused it. Have you walked somewhere new? Has something new been brought into the house? What can changed in his environment? Removing or changing something may alleviate the irritation but you may need to consult your vet for further clarification or help to relieve irritation.

Similarily, your dog may be showing sensitivity to something they have eaten or come into contact with. In the same way that we may be allergic to certain things e.g. dairy, wheat, chicken or beef, dogs can be also allergic to certain foods (Henry is allergic to chicken and comes out in hives)

If you think your dog is allergic to a certain food stuff, try cutting it out to see if this reduces the irritation to their paws. They may also be showing signs of irritation elsewhere – runny eyes, sneezing. You may need to consult your vet.

Parasites

If your dog is going to pick up an unwelcome visitor off the ground, the obvious place the new host may arrive is the paw. Fleas, ticks and mites can make paws and other parts of your dog very itchy. Your dog will do his best to alleviate that feeling by having a good lick. So have a good look all over him. And make sure you keep up to date with all his treatments.

Separation Anxiety and Boredom

Sometimes the reason your dog is licking his paws constantly is because he is bored. His paws are easily reached and if he has nothing else to do, he may be doing it as something to do. If he is left on his own for long periods with no toys or distractions, his paws are an easy target. Try leaving him with some safe fun chew toys, or a blanket that smells of you to comfort him until you come home. 

We hope this has given you some ideas as to why your dog may be licking his paws.

You can find more doggie health information at our blog here