Dog Behavior, Dog Health, Dogs

Why Dog Lick Their Paws? 8 Reasons Everyone Should Know

There can be various reasons for licking their paws. Dogs mostly do this to keep their paws clean. You can ignore occasional licking, but when your dog does this aggressively and excessively, it can be a sign of an injury, infection, or cyst. In this case, you need to take action. So, why do dogs lick their paws? We’ll try to share all possible reasons for this behavior. Let’s start.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

8 Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws

Occasional licking is a part of their self-grooming process, and dogs lick their paws when they come after walking on sandy or dirty ground. But constant and aggressive licking shows that something is wrong and you need to take action. So, let’s find out the reasons why dogs do it.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

 8 Reasons Why Dog Lick Their Paws

1. Self Grooming

Dogs are generally not good at self-grooming, but they regularly lick their paws and legs to remove debris from debris. So, licking is a positive sign, and it shows that your four-legged friend wants to be clean. If the paw licking isn’t aggressive and constant, you can consider it a positive thing for self-grooming.

2. Skin Irritation

When dogs lick their paws excessively, it might be because of dry or itchy skin. There can be various reasons for skin irritation. For example, dust, weeds, and certain grasses can cause allergic reactions in dogs. In this case, dogs lick their paws aggressively to get relief from the itchy sensation.

When dogs suffer from allergies, you will see sneezing, runny nose, and swollen eyes. The best practice to keep your dogs safe from these environmental allergy-related symptoms is to keep your pet clean. If you’re not sure whether your pet is suffering from environmental allergies, take your pet to the vet.

3. Food Allergies

When dogs suffer from food allergies, they feel an uncomfortable sensation on their paws. Some ingredients like wheat, soy, chicken, beef, or dairy in dog foods and treats can trigger food allergies in dogs. Therefore, dogs start licking their paws excessively. So, when you notice aggressive licking after mealtime, it means certain food allergies are responsible for it.

In this case, the vet can be the best choice because they can help you choose the best diet for your furry friend. Moreover, you can check food labels to ensure that the food doesn’t contain any ingredients that can trigger allergies.

4. Pain

Another reason why do dogs lick their paws is to manage pain. For example, when they are suffering from an ingrown nail, bite, sting, cut, or burn. Therefore, it’s essential to check your dog’s paws closely to see if there are small wounds. You can treat these small injuries at home.

Arthritis is painful for dogs, so when you see them licking their paws, it can be because of arthritis. Arthritis cause pain in multiple areas of the body, but dogs do it to cope with achiness. The best option is to visit a vet to get a solution for this discomfort.

5. Boredom or Separation Anxiety

When you remain away from home for a long time, your pet suffers from boredom and separation anxiety. Like other unhealthy habits such as barking, destructive chewing, or digging, they start licking their paws.

So, when you’re away and your pet is alone at home, ensure that you provide them with their favorite toys, blanket, and bed. These objects can entertain your dog and help stop excessive licking.

6. Parasites

When dogs explore different sites, parasites attack their paws. For example, lice, ticks, fleas, and mites can cause skin irritation. As a result, dogs start licking paws. Now you might wonder if parasites concentrate on one paw, then why do dogs lick other body parts? When they do this, it indicates that they’re dealing with these pests.

Check your dog’s paws, legs, and tails for these pests. Or you can take your pet to the vet for examination. If your dog experiences this issue regularly, change the playing or walking area.

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7. Hormone Imbalance

It can be another reason why do dogs lick their paws. Hormone imbalance makes your dogs feel itchy, and they start licking their paws. When the dog’s body overproduces the hormone cortisol, it results in a deficiency of thyroid hormone. When it happens, it results in extreme itchiness on the dog’s skin. Most dog’s paws are affected in this case. Therefore, you see aggressive licking.

8. Behavioral Problems

When you and the vet realize that all the reasons mentioned above are not causing paw licking, it can be because of behavioral problems like anxiety, boredom, or stress. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to diagnose, but some steps can help you find if there are any behavior problems. Compulsive behaviors in dogs include paw licking.

You can help your dog get rid of boredom by taking him for a walk or exercise. Play with your dog or bring puzzle toys to keep them focused and away from licking their paws. You can get some calming treats to help them get relief from anxiety.

These are the reasons why do dogs lick their paws.

When to Consult Your Vet?

It’s normal when dogs lick their paws for grooming, and you can ignore it. But when they do it excessively and aggressively, it can cause a break in their skin. In this case, you need to consult a vet. Consult your vet when:

  • Your dog does it excessively
  • A dog licks a particular area on a paw
  • Your dog does it multiple times a day

In all these cases, you need to consult a vet.

Final Words

Why do dogs lick their paws is the most frequently asked question by pet owners. We have discussed some reasons why dogs do that. Sometimes they do it for self-grooming, which is fine. But when they do it due to pain, allergic reaction, itchiness, or behavioral problems, then it should be addressed.

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