If your dog has been licking its paws, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog lick its paws? Possible reasons why your dog licks its paws are that there is something stuck in them, allergies, fleas, injury, a compulsive behavior, it might be doing it as a soothing behavior due to anxiety or it might have just been doing it to groom itself.

Since there are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking its paws, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.

Why your dog licks its paws

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking its paws and what would make each of them more likely.

It has something in them

The reason might be because there is something stuck in its paws. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has been licking one paw in particular and if you can see there is something in there. In this case, it would likely be the best option to take it to a vet.

Allergies

Allergies or a rash could also be causing your dog to lick its paws. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).

It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your dog started licking its paws often. For example, if it started doing it when you started using a new shampoo on it then it would likely have something to do with it.

Fleas

It could also be the case that it has fleas and they are causing it to lick itself a lot.

This would be more likely if it has been itching or biting itself in other areas as well and if you have found flees on it or around the house.

If fleas are causing your dog to lick, scratch and bite itself, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees.

Compulsive behavior

It could also be the case that it has been doing it compulsively. This is where it has an irresistible urge to lick its paws so it keeps doing it. This would be more likely if it has been licking its paws constantly for a few weeks now. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.

Injury

Another possible cause is that it has gotten an injury. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being injured. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.

Separation anxiety

Another possible reason is that it has been doing it due to being anxious. One reason why it might be anxious is that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like it when it is left alone and it becomes anxious when it is left alone.

Separation anxiety would be more likely to be the reason if it licks its paws more just before you normally leave home and if it starts getting anxious when you are about to leave.

In this case, it would help to avoid leaving it for extended periods and to periodically check up on it if possible.

Natural behavior

It’s not unusual for dogs to lick their paws occasionally. If your dog has not been licking its paws constantly, it’s not losing fur and there is no sign of anything else being wrong it could just be that it is normal behavior and it is grooming itself.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

It is normal for your dog to lick its paws occasionally

If your dog only licks its feet or paws occasionally it would likely just be normal behavior. When it licks its paws the cause could be that it is just grooming itself or that it has something stuck to its paws.

Whereas, if your dog has been licking its paws or feet a lot or it has been doing it suddenly then it would be unusual behavior. In this case, it would help to take it to a vet.

When it does it

It would help to consider the timing of when your dog licks its feet or paws since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

If you notice that it tends to do it more when you are about to leave home it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when it has not gotten much exercise it might be due to boredom.

When it first started doing it

It would also help to consider if anything else happened when it started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it did start doing it suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as allergies, fleas, injury or getting something stuck on them.

How to get your dog to stop licking its paws

Below are a number of things you can do about your dog licking its paws.

Check there is nothing stuck in its paws

Since your dog could be licking its paws due to having something stuck in them it would help to see whether or not there is anything stuck there. It would also help to check for fleas or a rash.

Take it to a vet

If you cannot figure out why it has been doing it, your dog has been doing it excessively or it has been showing signs of being injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.

Avoid negative reinforcement

It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it.

Instead of rewarding it when it does it try to reward it when it is being well behaved and to recognize when it is likely to start licking its paws and to redirect its focus onto something else.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.