Our dogs are our best friends – our loyal canine companions. As caring pet owners, we love them, play with them, and make sure they are taken care of.
You have likely noticed your dog licking his paws from time to time, which is normal behavior.
The problem comes in when we see our dogs licking their paws incessantly. We begin to worry. Licking behavior is a sign your dog may have something wrong. So if you have ever wondered, “My dog licks his paws all of the time, is that ok,” then we have the answer for you!
(It’s no, by the way.)
Dogs licking their paws is quite common, but if your dog has a history of licking or just started and can’t stop, it’s essential to figure out why for a couple of reasons.
- It’s important to figure out why your dog is licking his paws in the first place. The reason could be related to a mild issue that’s quickly resolved or an underlying condition that is serious and needs prompt medical attention.
- And the other reason? Because you want to stop your dog from excessive paw licking!
Once you know why your dog licks his paws excessively, you can figure out how to stop licking behavior or when it might be best to seek the advice of your veterinarian.
We have put together the ultimate guide to help you with all things related to your paw licking. We want to help you keep your dog from licking his paws! Let’s check it out!
Ways to Tell if Your Dog Excessively Licks Their Paws
The easiest way to tell if your dog is incessantly licking his paws is by closely monitoring him. Of course, it’s simple to see if your pet is licking all of the time. So – your dog is paw chewing or licking all day, every day. That behavior, of course, is a clear sign that there’s likely a health problem.
However, a pet can sometimes be sneaky, and maybe you don’t see him licking his paws while he is curled up underneath the dining room table or in the crate.
Luckily, there are ways to tell if dogs are continually licking their paws without seeing it firsthand.
Take a close look at your dog’s paws. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the foot swollen, inflamed, or red?
- Are there any cuts or wounds on or around the paw?
- Are there any sharp objects wedged in the pad?
- Is the fur stained, or does it look visibly different than the other paws?
When dogs lick their paws more often than they should, it’s usually easy to tell just by studying their feet.
Why Does my Dog Lick His Paws so Much?
Incessant paw licking can be caused by a wide variety of problems, some of which are mild, while others are more serious. We will break down each of the problems, but here’s a list of likely reasons your pet can’t stop gnawing and licking that paw of his:
- Allergies or Yeast Infection
- Gastrointestinal, or GI, Issues
- Dry, Itchy Skin
- Boring Lifestyle
- Fleas and Ticks
- Cold Weather
You have studied your dog’s paws, and maybe you have a good idea of the issue. If there is a cut or something sharp stuck in your dog’s paw, that’s likely the reason for your dog licking his paws.
However, if your dog is licking due to bacterial infections or gastrointestinal issues, it’s time to call your veterinarian and make an appointment.
Let’s take a look at the likely reasons dogs lick their paws and what you can do to help your canine companion.
What Dogs are Trying to Warn About When They Are Licking Their Paws?
Dogs that lick or chew their paws uncontrollably – especially if it is just one of his paws – could mean that he is in pain.
Dogs are energetic, playful, and can get into things they shouldn’t, especially in the yard. Bee stings or sharp sticks can cause the paw’s pad to become swollen, irritated, and painful.
Your pet can also step on glass or other sharp objects, causing a cut or gash, which your dog may lick.
Dogs lick to cope with pain. Be sure to take note if he is yelping or limping. Call or see your veterinarian immediately to make sure the issue is taken care of.
Allergies or Yeast Infections
Is your dog a chronic licker?
Most likely, this is a result of allergies, which can be more prominent in certain dog breeds.
Dogs can have an allergic reaction to anything, including food, dust mites, laundry detergent, and pollen. In order to help narrow down the cause of your dog’s allergies, which can be very difficult to determine, think through their daily activities. Ask yourself if they are licking their paws after the following:
- Taking a bath
- Eating a new food
- Their bed was washed
- They played in the grass
Study the ingredients found in the dog food that you feed your pup. Make sure it is free of allergens and contains plenty of fatty acids.
Ask your vet if your dog could have a food allergy. It might be time to change your dog’s diet.
Your dog’s skin may also be itchy to do allergies.
Your dog could be licking his paws, or he may even chew his paws because of yeast. Continually licking paws creates a warm haven for bacteria to grow, which creates a vicious cycle where your dog licking just creates more bacteria, causing your dog to lick over and over again. Your dog will likely need anti-fungal medication.
Gastrointestinal issues can cause dogs to lick their paws. Inflammation of the stomach, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome are all GI problems that can cause dogs to excessively lick their paws.
Be sure to feed your dog food that doesn’t upset his digestive system.
Itchy, dry skin can cause your pup to want to lick and lick their paws. Dogs can suffer from dry skin for many reasons, from yeast infections to immune system problems. Let’s take a look:
- Bacterial or fungal infections, such as a yeast infection
- Breed-specific conditions
- Metabolic diseases, such as Cushing’s Disease or hypothyroidism
- Autoimmune Diseases
While dry skin may not seem like a big deal, it can mean your dog has a serious condition that should be addressed immediately.
If you think that your dog is licking his paws due to dry skin, discuss it with your vet as soon as possible.
Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety, including separation anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Compulsive, repetitive behavior, such as excessive licking or tail chasing, is a symptom of anxiety in a dog.
Dogs licking their paws are similar to humans biting their nails – it can be a telltale sign that your dog is anxious.
There are many reasons a dog may experience anxiety:
- Separation from their owner
- Lack of exercise
You can prevent anxiety in your pup through proper training, socialization, and providing enough exercise and mental stimulation.
Have a chat with your veterinarian to determine the best treatments for anxiety. If traditional methods do not work, there are medications available.
Anxiety in dogs can stem from a number of reasons, including our next topic, which is boredom.
Dogs were originally bred to hunt and shepherd flocks of sheep, not lie around in a crate or on the couch all day.
Licking paws could simply be a sign of pure boredom. It’s just a bad habit a dog started to help pass the time.
We all have jobs, kids, and busy lives, but it’s important to keep your pup active and entertain. Certain breeds, such as German Shepherds or Boxers, require a great deal of exercise and attention, so it’s important to take this into consideration if you see your pup licking a lot.
- Dogs typically need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Take your pup on a walk or throw the frisbee for a while, and he will be so thankful!
- Just like a dog needs physical exercise, they need and crave mental stimulation. There are plenty of dog toys out there that are made to boost your dog’s IQ or chew toys that can just keep them entertained.
- Try not to leave your dog crated or at home alone for long periods of time. If you can, let them out during your lunch break or have a friend come by to help out.
Fleas or Ticks
Unfortunately, fleas and ticks are something every pet owner has to deal with.
Dogs can get fleas or ticks in their fur, which can cause extreme itchiness, ultimately leading to excessive licking.
You can use over-the-counter medication or talk to your veterinarian to get a prescription for flea and tick removal.
Be sure to give your pup preventative flea and tick medication as well, available OTC or from your vet as well.
Cold weather can cause dogs to lick or chew their paws for a variety of reasons.
If you live in an area where deicing products, such as salts, are commonly used, that could be the issue for your pup’s paw problem. The salt, which is used for melting ice on roads and driveways, can actually cause chemical burns on your dog’s paw pads.
Snow and ice can build up and leave icy pieces in dogs’ hair in between their toes. It causes cracking and bleeding, which is highly irritating and painful for dogs.
You can prevent cold weather symptoms in your dog by keeping him off of areas your know contain deicing salts or rinsing their feet after they are exposed.
You can use a non-allergenic substance such as vaseline to keep ice balls from forming on dogs’ paws.
Ways to Stop Your Dog From Licking His Paws
Once you have determined the reason your dog is licking his paws, you can begin to treat him.
Treating Paw Licking at Home
We’ve discussed common reasons why your dog is licking his paws. Many of these issues can be taken care of at home.
How to Stop Dog From Licking Paws
Here are a few reminders and extra preventative tips to help you deal with a minor case of paw licking and help your dog live a more comfortable, happier life:
- If it’s a minor cut or abrasion, it’s likely you can treat your dog at home. Clean the wound with Betadine and apply an antibiotic ointment. If you are able to bandage it, that helps to keep the wound clean.
- Don’t over bathe your dog. That tends to lead to dry, itchy skin. When you do give your dog a bath, try using oatmeal shampoo to prevent itchy skin. It is recommended to only bathe dogs once every two to three months.
- Try switching out the brand of dog food that you feed your pup, as this is something simple that might solve his allergy-related issues. Does he eat foods containing beef? Maybe that causes health problems for him. The point is that many dogs suffer from food allergies, so talk to your vet about what brand of dog food might work best for your breed.
- Use an e-collar.
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and has plenty of mental stimulation.
- Don’t leave your dog home alone for long periods of time.
Your dog may even lick his paws as he drifts off to sleep, and if that’s the only time and there are no other symptoms, no need to worry about treatment.
When to See Your Veterinarian For Paw Licking
There are serious underlying conditions that paw licking is a symptom of. If you can’t easily resolve the licking problem at home, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
If your dog is in pain and is suffering, you will want to make sure he is treated promptly.
Your dog deserves to be happy and healthy. Excessive paw licking means he is trying to tell you that something is wrong. It is not normal for dogs to lick their paws all of the time.
Hopefully, this comprehensive guide will help you determine the cause of the licking and ultimately resolve it.
Your dog will certainly appreciate it, and you will be happy knowing your dog is not suffering!