Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Its Paws?
It is very frustrating when you watch your dog incessantly and obsessively licking their paws, especially when they lose interest in everything around them. So what does it mean when a dog licks or chews its paws all the time? While it's normal for dogs to groom their paws every now and then, too much licking is often indicative of an underlying problem.
There are specific reasons for this behavior, and it is up to you as the owner to try to figure out what the problem may be. If the behavior appears suddenly, continues for an extended period of time, or is accompanied by bleeding, swelling, limping, or odor, the best thing to do is to see a veterinarian immediately and have them do the investigative work with the right diagnostic tools.
You don't want to let your dog's paw-licking get out of hand. Sometimes, it can become an addicting habit that is difficult to eradicate. Dogs who lick their paws excessively often develop swelling and stains on the fur of their feet (if they are light-colored). Sometimes, excessive licking may cause moisture to become trapped between the dog's toes, creating an ideal setting for an opportunistic infection.
Once inflammation or an infection sets in, a vicious cycle can form. Inflammation and infection can cause discomfort and itching, and this can cause your dog to lick their paws even more. Continued licking can further contaminate the area with bacteria and impair the healing process indefinitely.
This article discusses 10 common causes of paw-licking and outlines several strategies to stop the behavior and prevent it in the future. Once you and/or your vet have identified the issue, you can address the underlying cause and stop your dog from constantly licking its paws.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
- Allergy or Yeast Infection
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Displacement Behavior
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Dry Skin
- Fleas and Ticks
- Deicing Salts and Cold Weather
If your dog starts licking their paws suddenly, it may be indicative of pain or irritation, especially if they are licking only one paw. If the licking is limited to one paw, the source of the trouble is likely right there on the paw. The pain in that area can be caused by almost anything, but common culprits include insect bites, thorns, small wounds, small pieces of embedded glass, broken nails, etc.
If you do not see anything, don't ignore it. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Sometimes, there may be something going on at a deeper level, such as a muscle sprain or some type of inflammation or fracture, especially if the licking is accompanied by limping.
2. Allergy or Yeast Infection
Chronic licking is usually attributed to allergies, and these can come from just about anything. It could be their food, the chemicals in your yard, your carpet-cleaning products, weeds, grass, medicine, or something else.
For example, if your dog licks their paws after walking, the itching could be caused by pesticides in the grass or by a particular weed. Clean your dog's feet with a wet wipe after each walk to prevent further irritation.
Finding the real cause of the itchiness can be a very frustrating ordeal. It may take some enormous investigative work to figure out what your dog is allergic to, and it is best to have your vet run a blood test so you can address the root cause of the problem rather than just giving your dog antihistamines.
If you suspect a yeast infection, a poor diet may be to blame. Sometimes, the simplest treatment for hair loss and itching caused by a yeast infection is to switch out your dog's food based on your vet's advice. Make sure to provide quality foods full of specific nutrients and vitamins that are beneficial for the gut and the skin.
Read More From Pethelpful
Common Causes and Remedies for Dog Allergies
Common ingredients that cause allergic reactions include beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, and soy. They may also be allergic to artificial additives. Have your vet run a food allergy test, avoid cheap commercial foods, and try to feed them an all-natural diet.
Mold, grass, weeds, and pollen
Wash food and water bowls frequently. Don't let your dog out into the yard during high-pollen season or right after you cut the lawn. Clean your dog's feet with a wet wipe after going for walks to prevent further irritation.
Vacuum often or limit your dog to non-carpeted areas. Wash your dog's bedding weekly. Change furnace and air-conditioning filters.
Speak to your vet. They might be able to prescribe another brand.
Flea-control products, cleaning products, and perfumes
Avoid using these.
Avoid using these if you suspect this is the cause.
Rubber or plastic material
Use glass or stainless steel food and water bowls.
3. Gastrointestinal Issues
Dogs who lick their paws excessively may be suffering from GI issues. According to a clinical study published by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, gastrointestinal issues were present in a significant number of dogs who displayed abnormal licking.
Nineteen dogs that were showing signs of excessive licking were compared with 10 healthy dogs. On top of taking medical and behavioral histories and conducting a thorough physical and neurological examination, the dogs underwent abdominal ultrasounds, endoscopic examinations, and biopsies of the stomach and duodenum.
The research revealed that 14 out of the 19 licking dogs were found to have some sort of GI abnormality, such as a lymphocytic-plasmacytic infiltration, chronic pancreatitis, or a gastric foreign body.
Modern times have created an environment of boredom for dogs. Once used to walking, hunting, and scavenging, dogs today are often left at home in a small yard—or worse, a crate—for many hours a day. High-energy dogs may become frustrated and engage in destructive activities that may include excessive licking and chewing of their paws.
How to Prevent Boredom in Dogs
- Don't leave your dog at home alone for long periods of time.
- If you must leave your dog alone, give them a treat-filled Kong to keep them occupied.
- Give your dog frequent opportunities to play and exercise.
- Take your dog for a walk or play fetch at the park for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Allow your pup to socialize with other people and other dogs (if well-socialized).
- Don't keep your dog confined to a crate or tied up in the backyard.
Anxious dogs often seek relief by licking themselves excessively. Possible causes of anxiety vary and range from separation issues to obsessive-compulsive disorders. In this sense, paw-licking or chewing in dogs may be similar to human nail-biting.
Some dogs lick their paws before bed or lick themselves to sleep. This is just their way of relaxing and soothing themselves. If there is no redness or swelling, this type of paw-licking should not be a concern.
Possible Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
- Lack of proper exercise
- Separation from owner for long periods of time
If licking becomes compulsive and excessive, dogs may lick themselves raw and develop unsightly ulcers often referred to as ''lick granuloma." It is still not completely understood whether lick granulomas are triggered by anxiety or if they are the cause of anxiety. It's a "chicken or egg" scenario.
6. Displacement Behavior
Sometimes, paw-licking in dogs may be a displacement behavior. Displacement behaviors occur when dogs face conflicts and display out-of-context behaviors that seem rather unrelated to the present situation. A human might chew on a pen or twist a ring on their finger when they feel mildly stressed and are not sure how to proceed in a situation, and dogs may lick for similar reasons.
Recently, a dog I had over for boarding and training kept chewing on her right paw. Interestingly, the paw-chewing occurred most often when she was frustrated about something. For example, it occurred without fail when her toy dropped to the floor. It also occurred when she couldn't have something that she desired. With training and impulse control exercises, her paw chewing dramatically improved, and the visible staining on her paw disappeared.
7. Hormonal Imbalance
When a dog has a hormonal imbalance, they either produce too much cortisol (which can cause Cushing's disease) or don't produce enough thyroid hormone (which can cause hypothyroidism). This can increase a dog's susceptibility to developing skin issues such as red spots, balding, and brittle hair. Licking these irritated red spots or bald patches can lead to a secondary infection.
8. Dry Skin
Dry skin is often a breed-specific issue, but it can also be caused by over-bathing or a cold, dry environment.
- Breed Specific: Hairless breeds are often prone to a variety of skin conditions because they don't have the natural protection that hair provides. Breeds in this category include the Chinese Crested, the Xoloitzcuintli, and the American Hairless Terrier.
- Dry Weather: Dry skin is also common among dogs living in cold and dry climates. If this is the case, ask your veterinarian to recommend a natural dog lotion or oil to relieve the dryness. If you are worried that oils will leave a mess around the house, you can try feeding your dog quality vitamins and oil supplements as a remedy for their dry skin.
- Bathing Habits: If your dog is experiencing dry skin unrelated to the climate or their breed, you should avoid excessive bathing and the use of harsh soaps.
9. Fleas or Ticks
Fleas and ticks cause severe itchiness that can lead to compulsive paw-licking and chewing. The condition can get even worse if your dog is allergic to fleas. In addition to using insecticides and flea medication, make sure to rid your house of fleas. If your pet is allergic to cleaning products or over-the-counter medications, there are non-toxic ways to get rid of fleas and prevent them from coming back.
10. Deicing Salts and Cold Weather
If your dog only licks their paws during the winter, then the cause may be deicing salts or sore paws caused by ice balls.
- Deicing Salts: The salts used to melt ice on driveways and roads can lead to chemical burns on your dog's feet. Avoid areas that are sprayed with deicing products or give your pet boots to wear when going outside during the winter. You should also keep a bowl of warm water and a towel near the door so you can wash your pup's feet off after walks and prevent them from ingesting the toxic salts.
- Ice Balls: Ice balls can form between hairy toes when snow gets caught in your dog's fur. It can lead to cracking, bleeding, and hair pulling, all of which are quite painful. Keep the hair between the pads and toes trimmed short during the winter. If you have a really hairy dog, there are ways to prevent the formation of ice balls, including rubbing Crisco between the pads and into the fur.
How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Their Paws
The cause of your dog's irritation may have been something simple like a mosquito bite, but their chewing and licking may have worsened the problem and caused a secondary infection. To put a permanent stop to the issue, you must simultaneously stop your dog from licking their paws and find a way to relieve the pain, irritation, or itchiness. Treatment, of course, should be based on the underlying cause of the problem.
Ways to Stop Your Dog From Licking Their Paws
- Have your dog wear an Elizabethan collar or cone.
- Distract them with plenty of toys to chew.
- Provide stuffed Kongs to keep their mind occupied.
Home Remedies for Itchy Paws
- If your dog has allergies or is suffering from dry skin, use a steam vaporizer or a humidifier in your home. The steam helps brings moisture back into the dry air and can also reduce the chances of your dog's nasal passages clogging up with mucus. Make sure to clean the humidifier to prevent mold; otherwise, the irritation may get worse.
- Wipe your dog's paws any time you come in from outside in case the allergy is due to something your dog walks on. Use a damp washcloth.
- Give your dog a 10-minute foot soak made with cool water and oatmeal shampoo. The water helps rinse off any allergens, and the cool temperature helps soothe itchy skin.
- Give your dog a high-quality fish oil supplement rich in omega fatty acids. Fish oil helps strengthen dogs' immune systems and acts as an anti-inflammatory, but it may take 8 to 12 weeks to kick in.
Veterinary Treatments for Paw-Licking in Dogs
- Anxiety: If a dog is anxious, determine the cause of anxiety. Prevention is always better than medication. If you cannot remove the thing or situation that is causing anxiety, sedatives may be prescribed. Pheromone plugins or Bach flowers may be helpful.
- Food allergies: If your dog is allergic to their food, your vet will likely prescribe a special diet containing one novel animal protein (rabbit, duck, etc.) or a diet in which the proteins have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed).
- Non-Food Allergies: Some allergies may require antihistamines, or in very severe cases, steroid shots. Steroids can have nasty side effects, so use this as a last resort and not on a long-term basis. Again, the best way to remedy allergies is to avoid the stimulant that is causing irritation.
Resources and Further Reading
1. Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM, "Itchy, Itchy! Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs," Pet Health Network. July 2, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2017.
2. "Allergies in Dogs," PetMD. 2014. Accessed September 27, 2017.
3. Amy Flowers, DVM, "Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing," PetMD. May 20, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2017.
4. Anna Burke, "Dry Skin on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment," American Kennel Club. May 19, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2017.
5. "Baldness and Hormone-Related Skin Disorders in Dogs," PetMD. 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.
6. Dr. Karen Becker, "The Huge Benefits of Foot Soaks for Dogs," Huffington Post. September 5, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2017.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I take care of my dog's brown paw fur created by excessive licking?
Answer: The brown staining may be due to the proteins in the saliva. It can turn quite insightly in dogs who are white such as bichons, poodles, Havanese and Maltese. You can try certain shampoos to make the fur whiter, but before that, most importantly, you want to see the vet to address the excessive paw licking in your dog in the first place. Perhaps your dog has allergies and certain shampoos can make things worse. Sometimes excessive licking can cause the onset of yeast infections, causing deep reddish-brown stains from the by products of the yeast growing and this may require medication.
Question: Why would my dog stop licking their paws when visitors are around?
Answer: If the licking is due to a medical disorder, the adrenalin surge associated with having visitors around may cause her to temporary "forget", just like we often forget about our medical issues when we go out and about and visit with friends. It would still be worth seeing the vet to rule out medical issues before assuming it's simply stress or boredom. Perhaps try increasing her exercise and providing more mental stimulation.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 25, 2020:
Hi Nanette, the process of the skin turning black is called "hyperpigmentation" and this often occurs secondary to an inflammatory process due to underlying infections, allergies, etc. Please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
It’sme1234 on July 16, 2020:
I dropped my phone on my dogs nose and it is a Maltese is he going to be ok. What should I do?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 03, 2020:
Hi Pam, Care Credit is something we used to recommend for those who couldn't afford taking their dogs to the vet. I think for those who qualify you have no interest if you pay it back within 6 months. In most cases, vets are pretty good in accommodating owners' requests, so if she gets very anxious at the vet, they can avoid taking her to the back and do blood work in the room you are present.
NANETTE BENVEGNU on July 02, 2020:
I have a 9 year old terrier mix that licks his paws and his belly and groin area A LOT...so much so that his belly skin and the skin around his groin/penis is turning dark and in some spots black.
thanks for any help!
Pam Yockey on July 01, 2020:
What do you do when you can't afford a vet? I love my dogs but I got a schnauzer 3 yrs ago she was being abused so I couldn't say no. She always has something wrong with her she has allergies and it took a year before she would trust me even a little. She doesn't like for me to ever leave I can't go into another room without her looking for me. But she needs to be seen by a vet what do I do?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 12, 2020:
Your vet may be able to take x-rays and see whether there is something more going on. Since this is an ongoing problem, it may be best to find out what's the culprit.
Kat on May 11, 2020:
I have a 3 year old Staffy cross shepherd who keeps licking her back paw, and my friend mentioned when she was watching her that she limped at one point like she just tripped, but that was because she did trip on a stick. Then today she was running and jumping around like normal. I have checked both her back paws and they both look and feed fine and there’s no splinter or anything stuck in her paws either. Should I go to the vet?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 07, 2020:
Hi Deb, a physical examination by your vet would be important. There may be some digestive issues going on, sometimes whimpering at night may be a sign of canine cognitive dysfunction at her age, so discuss this whimpering with your vet to rule out medical problems.
Deborah on May 02, 2020:
I have a 13 year old Scottie and he is always licking his paws non stop and whimpers at night what can I do
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 27, 2020:
Hi Carol, this paw licking can be nausea or some sort of pain or stress, best to have this sorted by the vet to play it safe.
Carol Coy on April 19, 2020:
I have a pup about 11 years old Has Chf that’s controlled by Lasix However not doing well Just the other night started licking her paws and then wiping her face with her paws all nite long I know licking your paws can mean various things However this is the first for me regarding the back and forth paw to face all night long Help
Marguerite Kendall on March 29, 2020:
Sure the problem isn't created by not enough attention? Or so he thinks
Karen on March 05, 2020:
My Dog yelps out all of a sudden, then excessively licks his paw? It seems to be only one of his back ones? I’ve tried looking but can’t see anything? Any suggestions please? TIA
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 22, 2020:
Diane, it could be many things like the higher humidity levels, local grasses, pollens, molds even dust mites.Your dog may need meds from your vet to alleviate the symptoms while vacationing there.
Diane on February 19, 2020:
We vacation in Florida during the winter months. Our springer spaniel will lick and chew her paws to the point of causing baldness and bleeding. Any suggestions as to what we can do or what could be causing this, as it doesn't happen back home in Michigan?
Rene on February 11, 2020:
How do I train my maltipoo to go to the bathroom outside? I will take him outside to potty and he will come back in the house to poop at times pee also right in front of me. Now his sister is doing it. It has been A year that I’ve been struggling with this problem.
that I have told them to potty outside nothing works. Please help!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 03, 2020:
Hi Laura, sometimes we may never know exactly what's going on in those dog brains, but perhaps there's something going on in those feet. You can find other possible reasons here:https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Why-Is-My-Dog-Obsessiv...
Laura on February 02, 2020:
Why does my 4 year old German Shepard lick my 14 year old dogs feet. He has just started doing it. Both male both large
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 29, 2020:
Sheri, take your dog to the vet to see what is going on. Allergies, wound, something embedded, injury. Licking so much the paw most likely is due to something going on, unless it's stress-related. Have you checked his paw for thorns/glass?
Sheri on January 28, 2020:
My dog was fine until it was bedtime. He started licking his back paw till it was hot to touch and red. I put cool water on it thinking it might bring him some relief but it didn’t. Not sure what to do!!!
Patriciaacrosson@gmail.com on January 19, 2020:
WHAT IS A GOOD SHAMPOO FOR MY DOG THAT LICKS IS ONE PAW
Sherri on January 01, 2020:
How do I train my chihuaha to go to the bathroom outside? I will take them outside to potty and they will come rite back in the house to poop. It has been years that I have told them to potty outside and showed them their poop but nothing works. Please help!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 17, 2019:
Julie, with food allergies, home remedies are unlikely to work considering that the body is reacting to some ingredient in the food. Without the root cause tackled, the itchiness is likely to persist. The best option is to go to the root cause with the help of your vet. Your dog may need a food trial, possible with a hydrolyzed dog food or some novel protein diet.
Julie Critchfield on December 14, 2019:
Hello..we have a 19 mo old GS and he has been licking his paws and I just ran across this very helpful article. Me and my husband suspect he has a food allergy. Regarding the home remedies for itchy paws, can we use Tea Tree Oil in his foot soak?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 30, 2019:
Hi Ingrid, so sorry your dog is going through this. As I was reading your post I was thinking about meds to stop the leaking and you then said he is a proin, I was then thinking about allergies and you said he is on apoquel and then thought about arthritis but you mention he is on Rimadyl. Not sure, what more can be done short of maybe seeing a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. Perhaps he has a lick granuloma and this may require closer investigation. Sometimes neuropaties, metabolic disorders and stress/anxiety can be a component too. I am sure he must feel miserable if all he wants to do is lay on his bed. I hope whatever is causing this can be addressed. Does he do OK wearing the muzzle or fights it?
Ingrid Emery on November 24, 2019:
My German shepherd started to lick one paw on the front right and one on the left back paw. We have been trying to clear up open wounds on the inside of his back legs. Which he also licks. We are continually telling him no to the licking. We have tried everything to clear up the wounds under his back legs but nothing is working. He has had these wounds for almost a year. The veterinarian says they are burn scalding from his urine. He has always had a problem with leaking urine when he is laying down. But he hasn't been doing a lot of that anymore since he went on prion.
He has been licking his feet for a few month's now. And he licks them until they bleed. Now he is starting to lick the other two paws. He does limp when he walks. Or he will hold that paw up when he is standing. He has been on antibiotics for month's to try to heal the wounds under his back legs.
We are at a loss here. Our veterinarian just wants to put him down. He is 9 years old. He is on Apoquel for skin allergies and carprofin for arthritis pain. He has been on those two for years.
He doesn't like to do much during the day but lay on his bed. I want to take him to a new veterinarian but my husband is fighting me about that. Wolfie isn't happy with new people. We have to muzzle him if we go to any veterinarian no matter what.
If you have any insight on something that might help that would be great.
Thank you , Ingrid Emery
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 20, 2019:
A Kong is a hollow toy that can be stuffed with kibble or treats, and that keeps a dog mentally stimulating, catering to his needs to work for food.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 20, 2019:
Hi Dawn, please see your vet for this. You want to know why she has resumed licking despite the meds. She may have pain or nausea or she may be anxious or something else may be going on.
bwonsamdi on October 08, 2019:
What the !@#$ is a "Kong"!?
Dawn Kalybaba on September 29, 2019:
I have a 13 year old pug She has always been a licker anyone and herself she will lick your legs.She has licked her paws constanlly only time she would stop if she was walking playing but now she is blind and deaf .She has been on medication for the scooting and licking then she did not lick as much but now she has licked the fur off her upper paws.what do we do for her????
Mary Beckett on September 07, 2019:
I really.like this it answer a lot.of my question thank u
Tory Peta on September 02, 2019:
This is so thorough, informative and helpful. My dog always licks his paws when he is under stress, but now I think there may be other causes for the occasional licking.
Monica from United States on August 25, 2019:
Thank you for this article, it was very helpful. My German Shepherd usually licks his paws daily. Sometimes more often than others. It is nice to know what to watch out for and some home remedies I can try to reduce the licking.
Dawn Nelson on July 31, 2019:
Mine has anxiety my husband passed away last September and he has been doing this since then.our dog was his BFF!!!
Holly on July 16, 2019:
My service dog has been licking his paws for about 2 months. I took him to the vet who confirmed he had a skin allergy and told me to give him benadryl. I also give him fish oil and he's on an expensive food that is wheat free because im a celiac and can't handle his food if it isnt gf. Today.. my dog started to regirgitate water while licking excessively. I put the muzzle on him loosely to see if he was throwing up or doing it to just saturate his paws. He is leaving his paws alone and is not regurgitating water. What is this?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 17, 2019:
Asal, it could likely be something happened at the groomer. Perhaps there's a little clipper burn or cut or perhaps he got stressed and is trying to relieve his anxiety or perhaps like you say it's exposure to ice salt. So many possibilities for dog licking their paws! Has it gotten any better?
asal dolatshahi on April 15, 2019:
Hello , I need help here pls, My Dog started licking his one paw just the same day as he came back from groomer , he has been there before also, this time when i get there he was on the table and when he saw me he started shaking , i can swear his licking started then and now he licks his other paws and feet , I took him to 2 vet, one says maybe allergy , one gave a cream, nothing is working , he licks mostly in the middle of the night, he is not a nervous dog at all, he stays alone easily , he is independent , he is a 2 yrs, Cockapoo, we are in Canada and the salt and Ice might be an issue, we still dont know, I dont want him to go on a cheap Allergy food, pls help,
curtis meierstein on April 12, 2019:
I have a chihuahua.and she loves her paws and she keeps them spotless she has red dirt in the yard and unfortunatly my X had insisted on white carpet daisy goes in and out her doggie door onto white carpet and a blue and white chair there is no trace of red dirt on either. be thankful for fastedious pooches. some dogs like to lick their paws.
antonette Kemplen on March 13, 2019:
My 13 yr old Toy Poodle does it all
2....Licks his paws
3....Walks in Circles
5.....Licks his lips
6.....His jaw constantly contorts
7......Constantly hitting his jaw with his paws
This happens about once a week. When jaw starts to contort and he starts hitting his jaw with his paws back and forth (All Above) is starting to happen again) time frame 12-24 hrs then he is fine.. till the next time
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 11, 2019:
Alex, so sorry your dog has been licking his paws to the point of making them bleed, dis your vet figure out the underlying cause?
Alex on February 26, 2019:
my dog started bleeding on his paws so I took him to the vet
Veronica Dunski on February 01, 2019:
I rescued a 10 year old toy poodle, she had major dental surgery and has a few teeth left, she got a clean bill of health from the SCPA and she is constantly licking her paws and is driving me crazy, I fee her Natural Balance fish and sweet potato which she loves, give her Omega 3 salmon oil, wash her paws, (she is paper trained) and soak her paws in Povidine and spray with sour apple we got from the vets, she loves it, she recently went totally deaf, something else
we have to deal with, dont know what to do anymore. Please help thanks
Lori Colbo from United States on January 30, 2019:
Very thorough and informative. I had a collie and I rarely ever saw her lick her paws. I used to do a lot of dog sitting and find it a pretty common behavior although most of them only lick them minimally. Nicely done.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 16, 2019:
Yes, those de-icing salts can surely cause irritation and paw licking in dogs, which is not good considering that de-icing salts can be toxic.
Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on November 11, 2018:
Well written, by the way. I spent several years in Alaska and I especially like that you covered de-icing salts, ice balls in the paw pads, and how to deal with them.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 11, 2018:
We always know when our one dog is suffering from allergies because of the paw and skin licking. It is frustrating! We're trying some new non-steroid immunotherapy shots. So far so good. Another good discussion of an issue that plagues a lot of pets!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 10, 2018:
Thanks Penny for stopping by and commenting. That's covered under the inflammation part, but thanks for pointing that out as not everybody is aware of the fact that arthritis is a condition where the joints are inflamed.
Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on November 06, 2018:
Another cause of pain that can lead to licking is arthritis in the joints in or near the paw.
Linda on October 11, 2018:
My pup has a large lump under his eye not sure if it’s wax out his ears but I have been using wax drops for his ear any help please
Eva on October 09, 2018:
Very useful and informative content.Its amazing.Thanks for this information.my 3year old dog started liking its pawe i dint now what to do but your content is very useful & it will definately help me
Celeste Wilson on August 21, 2018:
Thank you very much for an informative hub. We have a paw licking Yorkie. She is on antihistamines right now but I suspected her food. You just confirmed that this could be the problem. Thank you once again for the incredible information.
Carolyn Robbins on July 15, 2018:
I need help what do I do for my dog
Saleha's unique writing on July 12, 2018:
Very useful and informative content.Its amazing.Thanks for this information.
Gina on April 25, 2018:
I have a 6 year old rescue pit bull, we have had him 2 years now, he constantly licks his paws to the point of rawness swelling to where he can't even walk on that foot. I've been to the vet 11 times n 2 years it's always the same they tell me food allergies I've had him on every kind of food nothing seems to help. What do I do to help him stop licking his feet raw
Akme on April 11, 2018:
Rescue dogs also lick their paws. My dog, even after 8 years with me, still licks his paws though not excessively anymore. It is known that this is common for rescues.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 06, 2018:
I hope your Rottie Nova feels better and that you can track down the underlying cause of your dog's paw licking. Thank you for the kind words.
Brenda Dobbs on February 28, 2018:
I thank you so much for such good information. My three year old Rottweiler, Nova, thanks you too. I will start cleaning her paws every night after our after dinner walk. She gets Blue Wilderness food that is supposed to be really good for her and I also give her fish oil that she doesn't mind so much. Good info is sometimes hard to find on the internet but your's rings true.
Narnz ponga on January 18, 2018:
Im just curious as to why our dog always comes an puts his head between our legs an just stands there or he will walk between our legs as we walking towards him we think it's a safety thing.
lynne noble on October 31, 2017:
my dog is always licking his bed is there a medical reason for this
Donna Jackson on August 11, 2017:
Thanks for the information it helped me alot
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2012:
I had to train my dog the "leave it" command and slept at night with a flash light so to check on him, very frustrating ordeal! Did you try comfy cones? I am not sure if it would work, this hub below addresses my ordeal and has some tips, but sounds like you already tried many! Hang in there and try monitoring as much as you can.
debby on March 07, 2012:
i have a pom he had his teeth cleaned he has been licking the spot on top of paw were the needle was inserted ,i have tried every thing amocacillian predasone genisis tropical spay bitter apple cocanut oil ,long ago he broke his little leg jumping and it cost five thousand dollars to fix it they say he shoulnd jump or run much, he went trew a lot the poor little thing .he is like my child very spoiled cant seem to find any thing to work for him ,we put a cone on him and he bite through it the vet badaged it he took it off ,any more i can do he has tones of toye and lots of beds ,,any thing would help ty
dino on November 18, 2011:
my 3year old dog started liking its pawe i dint now what to do and then i hade another looke at it the next day it was vary red so i pot some sea salt in a bole and put his paw in it and let it stay thar and then i put his cone on and now it is starting to heale
beaglelady on August 13, 2011:
My 10 yr old beagle starts licking her paws continuously Mid-August every year. This is due to allergies. Our Vet has said this time of year allergies are common place. So she is put on prednisone It helps to alleviate her lickin and the allergy symptoms greatly, BUT makes her thirsty, increases urgency to urinate and increases her appetite. if you are familiar with beagles, having their appetite increased is NOT good !! But 4-6 weeks of treatment is tolerable to get her to stop licking.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2011:
You really need to go at the base of this problem to solve the issue. Watch where your dog walks as some lawns us pesticides. Invest in an Elizabethan collar to minimize licking and offer a stuffed Kong to distract him from the licking. The only way to take care of the black skin is by investing in topical products to prevent infection and promote healing (ask your vet for these) and stopping the dog from licking them as this is what is causing problems in the first place. Ask a bout a hypoallergenic diet in case this is triggered by dog food.
adjgonzos on June 01, 2011:
my 4 year old pom has been licking and licking constantly at his paws that they are black and his hair has fallen out! he is still beautiful but I feel terrible about his licking. he will even cry while he is licking. he is on steroids from the vet and childrens benedryl which seems to help some. i have tried the epsom salt soaks too but I work full time and my mother is home with him and can't do that for him during the day. my concern is the black skin now. is there any help for that?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2010:
If its just a minute or two I do not see much harm, but to prevent problems why not get her a kong toy to be occupied for a few minutes before bedtime? if the paw gets raw it is extremely hard to heal as the dog may want to lick it all the time, so your best bet is to give something else to do. If this continues, a vet visit is in order to rule out allergies or other skin conditions. best wishes!
TheSweetcupcake5581 on November 22, 2010:
My toy poodle/maltees lick his paws but only when he is bored like before bedtime and then stops after a minute or 2 by the way what happens if the paw gets raw .is that bad?
Philip Pickersgill on September 05, 2010:
I have a 6 year old Boston Terrier who has a busy life now, but came from a stressful previous owner I believe it is an anxiety based problem .I am reluctant to feed him phenobarbs
Ray Chan on June 27, 2010:
Thanks so much. i wish i had thought about this 3 years ago
i have finally found a way to help my dog from not licking his paws. But pls he cant stop! i tried and i tried. Anybody please please help?
Lyria on November 08, 2009:
I can vouch for the bitter apple spray...it works like a charm! My dog licks from nervousness and boredom and this stops it immediately. The smell/taste of the bitter apple will last a little while too, and hopefully breaks the cycle.
Marian White from Hampshire on October 17, 2009:
My dog Jack never ever licked at his paws, his mum did all the time but Jack never.
Then when Mollie died suddenly at Christmas Jack can't leave his paws alone. Being a Westie he now has the stains on all paws from his constant licking, he sleeps under the bed and his licking wakes me up!
Someone told me its anxiety....
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 05, 2009:
Wish I'd read this last year when my poor Kodi boy was licking, licking, licking....I have the Bitter Apple now for our new malamute pup - and it WORKS! Even the little bit that our female mal has slurped up by accident is not meeting with her liking either! I have heard that sometimes they also lick because it is a referred pain from their legs but think allergies, etc. is more plausible! Great post!
Gift Experts on September 21, 2009:
All of my dogs have done this. I always thought this was caused by allergies. Thanks for the info. I'm going to try your remedies. Thanks
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 11, 2009:
Wow, this doggy must be lucky, he surely sounds like he is kept busy! Checking thyroid levels never hurts according to:
http://www.k911.biz/Petsafety/Licking.htm QUOTED: ''Hypothyroidism has played a role in some cases of Acral Lick Granuloma. Especially in Black Labs with lick granulomas it would be a good idea to have the Thyroid Gland function checked. Thyroid medication may just be what the dog needs to have those skin lesions resolve.''
lab dog on August 11, 2009:
My 6 year old lab also does this, we walk him twice a day and take him to the lake every morning, along with doggy daycare everyday!!!
We have taken him to 4 vets over this and has added up to 600 dollars and nothing has worked, everything short of the collar, which would be hard to see him with!! Right now, the last vet has just given him anxiety medicine, hoping this will work
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 01, 2009:
FYI, hypothyroidism has been linked to seizures as well
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 01, 2009:
Well, let's keep finger crossed that this may be a cure all! Keep me updated as this sounds interesting and may eventually help other owners as well. My best wishes.
My NJ Dog from NJ, USA on August 01, 2009:
alexdry: An update: the pup's thyroid was low. A doggie endocrinologist advised that is was probably due to the phenobarb and not to treat it, as he is probably not a true low thyroid dog. However, my vet and I are in agreement to try him on a low-medium level thyroid replacement and re-evaluate it in 4 weeks. I picked up the pills this morning.
I don't know if this will help with the paw licking, but regardless, thank you for passing along the information. Neither my vet, the endocrinologist, or I had associated the phenobarb - low thyroid - paw licking. Thank you so very much.
Research Analyst on July 26, 2009:
This is interesting because I have actually seen this happen with dogs and wondered what the cause was, it reminds me of nail biting for humans due to boredom and anxiety but it was surprising to hear that dogs have these same issues.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 21, 2009:
Yes, boredom indeed can be a great trigger especially in under exercised dogs or dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Having worked for a vet, the most cases I have seen instead were for allergies, to just about anything, food, pesticides in the yard, products to clean floors etc... The worst however, were those called ''idiopathic'' in other words, unknown cause... very frustrating!
Camping Dan on July 21, 2009:
Sometimes a dog gets something in their pads but more often than not the dogs I have seen doing this were bored.
My NJ Dog from NJ, USA on July 19, 2009:
We have a vet appt in a week. They will be redoing his phenobarb levels. I'll ask about checking the thyroid at the same time.
The licking started about 2 years ago - seizures 4.5 years before that. I suspect that his 1st encounter w/ anesthesia may have precipitated the seizures....and each encounter afterwards requires a re-evaluation (and usually an increase) in the phenobarb dose. We decreased the dose last winter (worried about liver damage). He has had 3 encounters w/ anesthesia since...he startles more easily and spends a couple hours a day 'hiding' in the bathtub. *sigh* I'm looking at increasing the phenobarb again.
Thanks so much!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 18, 2009:
the abcanimalhospital link does not work until you copy and paste the whole URL, sort of odd..
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 18, 2009:
Hmmm... interesting medical history! He sure sounds like a very happy fellow. I wonder if his licking issues started when his seizure activity started.
Phenobarbital in some cases may cause low thyroid levels and low thyroid levels may cause licking behaviors. Something to look into...
About hypothyroid dog licking- look under causes number 6
About phenobarbital causing low thyroid levels
My NJ Dog from NJ, USA on July 18, 2009:
Thanks for your response. He will leave the lollipop paw for a rawhide smeared w/ a film of PB, a stuffed Kong, etc....then go right back to licking. He was doing this before the toddler arrived....and he loves baby. She is really good with him too - not too rough and we make sure she doesn't drive him nuts chasing him, etc.
The dog has 2 replaced hips, so we are trying to avoid pinning the kneecap; hence the PT and minimum 3 walks a day. It seems to be working. He is also on phenobarbitol for seizures (behavioral seizures - he tries to climb or becomes blind/deaf or hyper-sensitive).
He has rotten genes, but the best temperment. I'll check out the OCD hub. Thanks!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2009:
Here is a hub with some tips for ocd behaviors
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2009:
Wow, that must be a very frustrating ordeal to deal with. I know you have already tried a lot, but have you ever thought of saying ''no'' and redirecting to a Kong stuffed with hard to get goodies, like peanut butter at the bottom, hot dog slices in the middle and a bisquit on the top? What happens if you would do this? would he eat the kong's content and go right back to his paws? would he ignore the Kong? With quite severe OCD behaviors it is often very likely that he would ignore the kong and go on with his licking habit.
OCD usually means the dog will appear disinterested in other activities. Is this the case? Will he for example lick his paw and ignore other interesting things going on in his surroundings? Or does he lick when there is not much going on, like before going to sleep or during quiet times? Just food for thought, even though I am sure with two years dealing with this you probably very much tried almost everything...
However, OCD is something that did not appear in nature in dogs in the wild, it is rather a result of domestication, if dogs engaged in OCD behaviors in the wild they would have not survived today.
Therefore, perhaps finding your dog something draining to do, will likely gradually wean the behavior. You want to see the behavior less and less because you are giving your dog less opportunities not to engage in this activity. Because dogs live in the present, if he is not thinking much about licking that paw, he may start forgetting about it...
Yes, he is walked 3 times a day and I am sure this does not take place during walking, so this means he is in a very balanced state of mind when outdoors (ie distracted, curious, alert) No offense, but could it be your toddler may make him slightly anxious?
Sometimes toddlers may be a bit rough on dogs not knowing the difference between a stuffed animal and a dog. Your dog may appear to tolerate the toddler well but he may do this because he knows he must respect your chiId. If your child ever plays rough, it would be best to crate your dog every now and then and provide some quiet time with a safe toy like a Kong, which by the way can be therapeutic.
I would normally recommend agility training that allows dogs to gain in confidence but with your dog's patella issues I guess this may not be an option.
Did the licking start along with the patella issues? Sometimes dogs lick out of pain as a way to comfort themselves.. and then it turns into a habit...Ever thought of surgery for the luxating patella?
This is all I can think of,. I have seen OCD cases of tail chasing and running in circles,.. very frustrating issues to deal with! My very best wishes!
My NJ Dog from NJ, USA on July 17, 2009:
My pup has a 'lollipop' paw.....it's been inspected, x-rayed, he's on allergy meds for it, and bitter apple ......and he just keeps licking the bottom of the one paw. It's never become raw. He's walked 3 times a day and we do PT exercises for a luxating patella. The house has 3 adults and a toddler - he's not bored or lonely. After 2 years of trying to hunt down a cause, I'm starting to think it's an obsessive compulsive thing and am getting used to the slurp-slurp on the floor next to me when I go to sleep.
Great article - wish I had come across it 2 years ago.
fyxer from mt vernon on July 17, 2009:
maybe it's the same as when people bite their nails--hope he did not see you biting your nails and decide to follow lol
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2009:
Hope it helps, make sure he does not drink the water as it may cause diarrhea, best wishes!
happygiggle from A long way from home on July 17, 2009:
I have a dog that continually chews his feet. I will definitely make a batch of your foot soak to see if i can give him some relief. Thank you