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A Pooch's Point of View: Why Does My Dog Lick Their Paws?

Written by Adaptil, published on April 18, 2023

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Us pooches like to lick - it's a natural behaviour for us. And sometimes as part of our self-grooming, we will lick our paws to get rid of any dirt and keep them nice and clean. This can be after a meal, before settling in for a snooze or after coming in from outside. After all, we'd hate to make your nice carpets all grubby!

But sometimes there are other reasons as to why we are licking our paws. We might have sore pads, allergies, or we might even be stressed. If you notice that I'm licking my paws more than usual, it's probably a good idea to get me checked by the vet to make sure there isn't any underlying cause.

Reasons for paw licking

Dog licking paws

Aside from our usual grooming habits, excessive licking and grooming can sometimes be our way of telling you that something is wrong.

  • Allergies much like you humans, us pups can have certain allergies that cause our skin to itch, including our paws! Whether it's our food, dust mites or something that our paws may have come into contact with when on our daily walk (like pollen) - we may be licking or nibbling at our paws because of an allergic reaction.
  • Parasites whilst there are some preventative treatments you can give us to help reduce the risk, sometimes we can get mites, ticks or fleas - especially if we live near lots of fields and woodland or like to visit the local park on our walkies. These can make us itchy in general, and can sometimes be localised to our paws.
  • Soreness if you notice us licking one paw in particular more than the others, then the joint or skin might be sore. Whether an insect sting, a splinter or a damaged claw, it's best to get the vet to check this out if you're unsure as they may be able to help whatever is causing the discomfort. Hopefully you'll give me some of those tasty treats for visiting the vet too!
  • Behavioural - if there are no underlying physical causes for over-grooming our paws, it may be a sign that we're feeling stressed or bored. Licking can be soothing and comforting for us - so it may just be a habit we have developed to pass the time, or could be a way to comfort ourselves when feeling anxious.

How can I tell if my dog is licking their paws too much?

Dog paw in human hand

Sometimes us dogs can get a little carried away! Over-licking our paws can make them sore, and can even cause damage to the skin. So it's probably best to keep a watchful eye and make sure we aren't hurting ourselves.

My human always makes sure to check my paws regularly. I wasn't a huge fan at first, but with a bit of training and attention I'm now fairly used to it. They regularly check my paws and in between my toes - especially after a walk - to make sure there are no grass seeds or splinters or anything else uncomfortable that might cause me to lick and nibble at my paws.

They also check for redness, wounds, scabs, broken nails or any swelling if they notice me licking my paws more than usual - I'm a very curious pup and sometimes when I'm exploring I step in things that hurt my feet. They always make sure to contact the vet if they notice something unusual.

What to do if your dog is licking their paws too much

Dog licking paws

If you notice that we're licking our paws more than usual, here's what you can do:

  • Check with a vet - sometimes I step in something I shouldn't, so if you have any concerns about whether I have injured my paw, or if it looks sore and inflamed, it's a good idea to get me checked by the vet to make sure everything is ok.
  • Consider if there is a trend. Sometimes us dogs can have allergic reactions, so if you notice that I always lick or chew my paws after a bath, for example, it could mean something is triggering it. It doesn't help if I'm feeling stressed either.
  • Us pups like to stay busy, so sometimes all it takes is some mental stimulation. I tend to lick or chew my paws out of boredom, but then my human gives me my favourite toy to entertain me which tends to help.
  • If the licking is a behavioural issue, it may help to reduce the source of anxiety. For example, we can sometimes get anxious when left alone, so to stop us from over-licking, we might need some extra training.
  • I used to lick my paws when I got anxious, but my human used ADAPTIL to help me feel more relaxed! ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser helps me feel more comfortable in challenging situations and puts me at ease so I don't have to over-lick my paws anymore - it's great! My human plugs the diffuser into the wall near my cosy den and makes sure it's always working well by using an ADAPTIL Calm Refill once a month.
  • Sometimes we don't realise we're doing it! Licking our paws can often become a habit, so you may need to seek professional help from a qualified behaviourist to help prevent the behaviour.
  • Most importantly - please don't scold us for licking our paws! This will only make us more nervous and could exacerbate the problem.

Grooming is completely natural for us dogs, but if you're concerned about whether we are over-licking, it's always best to get us checked by a vet to put your worries at ease and make sure we're in tip-top condition!

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

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