dogs lick their paws

7 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

dogs lick their paws

We all notice dogs licking their paws from time to time. It’s normal for dogs to lick and clean their paws occasionally, but excessive paw-licking may be a sign of a health problem. If you see your dog frequently licking his or her paws, it might be time to take action to figure out the cause.

Dogs rely on healthy paws for walking, running, and fetching. This is why it is essential to make sure that you take good care of your dog’s paws. Their paw pads provide insulation for a dog’s feet, provide traction, aid with balance, slowing down, and stopping, and act as shock absorbers for the bones and joints that make up your dog’s feet and legs. Dog paws are very durable and designed to withstand a large amount of activity and wear. However, they do encounter problems from time to time. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Here are some of the most common reasons that dogs lick their paws more than usual:

Dry Skin/Dermatitis

Dermatitis is an itchy skin disease that can affect pets. With this condition, usually an allergic reaction occurs causing the animal to rub, lick, bite, or scratch. This may give your pet relief, but the cause of the allergy needs determination. Hyperkeratosis is a common skin condition in dogs that results in thickened skin on dog paws. It usually comes on in the first few years of your dog’s life. Excess keratin can make the paw pads extremely thick and dry to the point where even walking can be painful. Weather and the elements can also put a beating on your dog’s paws. Without treatment, burnt or dry paw pads can crack or bleed over time. And when your dog licks itself, the injury could get an infection.


When it comes to allergies, almost anything is fair game. Food, chemicals in the yard, mold, pollen, certain types of carpet, you name it. When dogs are exposed to an allergen, their skin may become red and extremely itchy. According to veterinary research, the most common canine allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, and fish. And, most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing. Also, flea and tick allergies are common. Both of these pests can cause extremely itchy sores, especially if your dog is allergic.  

Pain and Arthritis

Dogs have a strong instinct to lick and clean their wounds. Even if the pain is somewhere other than their paws, they may lick them as a comforting mechanism. If you notice your dog is also reluctant to play, is losing weight, or generally more depressed than normal, get a check-up from your veterinarian. If your dog has arthritis, (nearly two-thirds of dogs over 6 years do) Flexpet makes the number one alternative supplement for joint pain.


If your dog is anxious or stressed, he or she may lick excessively. This is similar to the way some people bite their nails when they’re nervous. It can give a calming feeling of relief. Take note if your pup starts licking around the same time every day, like right before a nap or going to bed. This can be a sign the licking is behavioral. As long as there are no signs of injury (redness, swelling, hair loss, etc.), anxious licking can be helped with a calming supplement. Take into consideration your own stress level, too. A study confirms what most dog owners know to be true: Dogs read our non-verbal cues and empathize with our anxiety.

Yeast Infection

Yeast dermatitis is a common skin condition in dogs that causes the skin to overproduce oil and become extremely itchy. Then, when your dog scratches and starts licking, the yeast spreads. It’s a cycle that often requires an antifungal medication to control. Besides itchiness and inflammation, one of the key symptoms of a yeast infection is rotten-smelling skin. It smells really bad. Dogs with a lot of skin folds, like Bulldogs and Pugs, are more susceptible to this type of infection.


As we mention, dogs may lick their paws to make themselves feel better (anxiety). This also may explain why a dog may lick their paws if they are bored. Boredom actually increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and paw licking reduces that stress hormone. As with us, a dog’s experience of boredom depends on the breed and how active they are. An intelligent work dog will require more attention and brain stimulation.

Ensure you are meeting your pet’s daily exercise needs. Spend time working on training and play some brain games. If you have to leave your dog alone for short periods of times, allow them space to roam in the house and leave toys for them to play with.


Finally, another reason you may see dogs licking their paws is simply that they are grooming themselves. You may have been for a walk or they’ve been out in the yard and they are cleaning. Grooming behavior is easy to notice as your dog will lick each of their paws. As opposed to focusing specifically on one paw. They may also gnaw or nibble at their paw if they have something stuck to or in their paw like a thorn. This is pretty typical behavior.

At Flexpet, we care about you and your pets. We want to help you keep them as healthy as possible. We have a fantastic and knowledgeable customer care team available to answer any of your questions about our joint supplement products and how they may help your dog or cat. Our Flexpet joint care supplements are highly reviewed and they are made in the USA from human-grade US ingredients. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or contact us by phone at 1-800-505-0575.

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