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Dogs excessive licking paws

Themes :
behaviour dog
Published on 5 October 2022

You may have noticed your dog licking its paws constantly and not taken much notice of it. However, this could be the sign of a problem, so it is important for your pet’s good health that you check out what’s going on.

Why is my dog licking its paws excessively?


When a dog does this, it is their way of dealing with something that is wrong. They may be in pain, anxious or bored. They clearly can´t tell you what’s happening so it’s up to you to find out what the problem is.


Some of the most common reasons for a dog’s excessive licking of paws include:


  • Pain

Your dog may have pain, but not necessarily in its paws. The licking is a way to cope with pain elsewhere in the body and could potentially be the cause of a serious condition such as arthritis, a cyst or tumour or something like an insect bite or sting.


During the hot weather dog’s pads can also burn by walking on hot pavements, which is very painful. If you live in a hot country or are experiencing a heatwave, take your dog for walks during the cooler hours of the day to avoid this.


  • Injury

If your dog is licking one paw excessively this could be a sign of an injury or wound. It may be hidden due to their hair, and you should check for cuts or whether a foreign object has entered their paw, such as a grass seed.


  • Boredom

A bored dog that is left on its own a lot may start to lick its paws out of habit. This may continue and make the paws sore and cause the hair to fall out. No dog should be left alone for hours and become so bored it does this.


  • Stress

A dog can be stressed for many reasons, from being with different people, a new baby coming into the home to being separated from their owner. This can result in not only licking but excessive biting of paws too.


  • Allergic reaction

An allergic reaction can be the reason a dog is excessively licking its front paws. Their paws may be itching due to something they’ve eaten or come into contact with, and the natural reaction is to lick to make it feel better.


Your dog may also have a reaction to the chemicals in the products you use to clean your floors, so try and use natural products.


  • Skin irritation

Just like humans, dogs can get irritated skin. They may suffer from dermatitis or dry skin, which can become very itchy and painful. The dog’s solution is to lick the area, often until it is raw.


Skin conditions can be aggravated by central heating in the winter, so if your dog has itchy skin ensure your home has plenty of fresh air flowing through it.


One thing you must not do is get angry with a dog that’s excessively licking and biting paws as this will make them more anxious. Whilst it might be irritating for you to listen to the constant licking sound, it is more upsetting for your dog. The sooner you solve the problem the sooner you’ll both be happy.


Some dogs lick themselves to stay clean (similar to a cat, but not as excessively). This is fine, but if the licking is constant and combined with your dog licking their paw pads excessively they may have a wound.


Other dogs have a combination of excessive drooling and licking paws which is another sign that there could be something medically wrong and it is advisable to see a vet.

Is licking the paws bad for your dog?


Whilst occasionally paw-licking is nothing to worry about, constant licking can be harmful if you don´t take action. The moisture from your dog’s tongue can cause a bacterial infection which may be very painful.


Once this kind of inflammation starts it is difficult to break the cycle which is why it is essential to address excessive licking as soon as you notice it.


If a dog is left to lick its paws with no care this could eventually lead to them being unable to walk as the pads become damaged.

Why does my dog lick its paws at night?


You know the situation – you were sleeping sweetly until you were woken by the constant slurping sound of your dog licking its paws.


A dog licking paws excessively at night can keep you both awake and drive you crazy. Remember, it’s not their fault and the sooner you sort out the problem the sooner you’ll both get a good night’s sleep.


One reason dogs lick at night is that it’s their way of winding down at the end of the day. That’s fine if they do it for a short time, but there could be an underlying cause of the incessant licking.

How can I stop my dog from licking its paws?


First, you should check your dog’s paws for any signs of wounds or foreign objects. Make sure you check between the toes and the pads.


If you find a foreign object you may be able to remove it with a pair of sterilised tweezers. However, if the foreign body is deeply embedded in the skin you should have it removed by a vet.


You can apply a wound cream for dogs to the area, but you may find your dog licks this off. A solution is to wrap a bandage around the wound, which should be changed regularly to avoid infection.


To avoid foreign objects getting into the paws, ears or other parts of the body, regular grooming is essential to remove things from their coat. Brush your dog at the same time every day so they look forward to this pampering and way to try and prevent them from licking. This is especially important if your dog has a long coat, as thorns etc. can easily get stuck in the fur and enter the paws.


Whatever the reason you should rule out any serious problems by visiting your vet if your dog is excessively licking their front paws, and especially if there is bleeding, swelling or they are limping.


Your dog may be licking their paws out of habit. If this is the case, you could try buying them some dog boots or socks to cover up the irritation and break the habit. This can also protect them from bacteria entering the area where the dog has been licking, especially when you’re out walking.


On this point, if you choose not to use dog boots you should clean and dry your dog’s paws when you get in from a walk. This will also help prevent infections. Be careful when you clean around the licked area as it could be very sore.


If your dog is bored, it is up to you to keep them entertained. Walk them, play with them, and include them in your daily life when possible. They should also have toys to play with, but this should not be their only source of amusement.


It can be difficult if you have to go out to work and there’s no one home to care for the dog, so you could try a dog walker or doggy day care. This is a way to keep your best friend happy and entertained when being out of the house is unavoidable.


Feeding your dog a natural, healthy diet is a way to help them with paw licking if they have allergies. Dog food products containing Lactium® can help with excessive paw chewing in dogs. Lactium® is a natural product derived from milk that can help ease your pet’s stress and anxiety.

To find out more about how Lactium can help solve your dog’s paw licking contact us!