Why Does My Dog Lick his Paws?

If your dog is licking it’s feet, you might be wondering why they are showing this behavior. Many people think of cats as being the groomers, which can be confusing for dog owners when they see their dog licking at their paws. Many dog owners want to know if it is normal for a dog to groom its feet because they are worried that this might be a sign of a health concern.

There are a few different reasons that your dog might be licking its feet. The more that you know about the reasons for this behavior, the better. Identifying health concerns early can make all the difference, and being able to determine which kinds of behavior are worrisome or not can give you peace of mind.


Just like cats, dogs do groom themselves. They might not take a full bath the way that cats often do, but it is common for dogs to lick at the pads of their feet to keep them clean. They might also groom each other, so if you have two dogs and see another one grooming its friend’s feet, this is a normal social behavior.

Dogs might also groom other parts of their bodies if they think they are dirty. Chewing and licking can be quite common during these grooming processes. Being aware that dogs can be licking at their feet just to keep them clean is important so that you don’t overreact to normal grooming behaviors.

Why does my dog lick his paws

Skin Irritation

Dry skin or skin irritants can cause your dog’s feet to feel itchy or uncomfortable. This can lead to licking as your dog tries to make their feet feel normal again. Even seasonal allergies can cause itchy or painful pads of the feet, so you should always make sure to look at your dog’s feet when you see them licking. Dry, cracked, or red and inflamed pads on your dog’s feet can mean that they may be allergic to something.

Your vet will give you allergy medications to help calm down your dog’s allergic reaction, or they might take a skin sample to see if the culprit behind your dog’s discomfort is a yeast infection. Keeping your dog away from the things that they’re allergic to will help in the future. You can also buy moisturizing products made specifically for your dog’s feet to help keep them flexible and to prevent cracking and splitting of the skin.

Food Allergies

Dogs can have food allergies just like people, and if your pet has an allergic reaction to food or treats, they might get itchy feet. This kind of allergic reaction can come on slowly over time, so at first, you might not notice that your dog seems to be grooming their feet more often than usual. When you change your dog’s food, always be sure that you keep an eye on their skin health. Skin irritation due to food allergies can come on slowly but become entrenched and hard to address.

If your dog is prone to food allergies, your vet can suggest some dog foods that are made for animals who tend to have allergies. You will also need to be sure that you are not feeding a lot of treats to a dog that tends to have this kind of allergic reaction.

Aches and Pains

Pets with arthritis or animals that have suffered an injury might lick at their feet or their legs due to the pain that they are feeling. There is a wide array of different health conditions that can cause pain in the extremities, and even young dogs can suffer from conditions that lead to pain in the feet.

Taking your dog to the vet if they seem sore-footed, hesitant to get up or down, or have been chewing at their feet and legs is a good idea. Your vet can take x-rays and run other tests to be sure that you know if there is a root cause like an injury or arthritis causing their discomfort.

dog lick his paws

Anxiety and Boredom

Pets that are worried or scared can show all kinds of anxious behaviors that might not seem related to anxiety. One of the most common expressions of worry or stress in dogs is excessive grooming. Your dog might even pull out their hair or chew their feet until they bleed, just because they feel anxious or worried. These kinds of behaviors can follow a big change, like a move to a new home or the loss of a companion in the home, but they might seem to come out of nowhere.

Some animals grow more anxious as they age, while others might grow more confident as they get older and stop demonstrating this kind of worried behavior. Your vet can help you to treat this issue with some medications that will make your dog calm down. You might also need to work with a dog trainer to help your dog to feel more secure and safe in your home.

Dogs Might Lick Their Paws for Many Reasons

There are many reasons that your dog might be licking at their feet. Sometimes they might just be displaying normal grooming behavior, but if they are chewing their feet raw or their skin looks cracked or inflamed, something more serious might be going on. Anxiety, bacterial and yeast infections, and dry or raw pads of the feet can all cause your dog to lick at their skin.

Making sure that you attend to the reason for the inflammation in your dog’s feet is key. Dogs can become obsessive groomers once they have had a foot issue, and you do not want to spend years telling your dog to stop grooming their feet when it is not necessary. It is always wise to pay attention to the condition of the pads of your dog’s feet and stay aware of the effect of things like changes in food or the environment. This can help to ensure that your dog’s feet are healthy and that they are not grooming too much.

If you have any questions about your dog’s health, please schedule an appointment with us. Here at Dundee Animal Hospital, we want to be sure your pet is in good health!