Why Do Dogs Lick Their Feet?

Many dog owners observe this common behavior in their dogs and find themselves concerned whether they should be worried about it or not? While it’s quite normal for dogs to lick their own paws, the excess of it could be a problem and one should always take precautionary measures. You should consult with your veterinarian about this behavior, especially if it comes on suddenly, persists for long periods of time, or is accompanied by swelling, redness, odor, bleeding, limping or other possible signs of pain and infection.

Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

Dogs usually lick their paws for several reasons. You may notice your dog licking its paws after coming in from outdoors, after meals, or while settling down for a nap. It’s quite normal for dogs to occasionally clean their paws. If you happen to notice your dog licking its paws occasionally and the paws look normal, then it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if your dog is licking their paws all the time, this is usually a sign of a health problem or a behavior issue. 

Health Problems and Paw-Licking

The first thing to look out for is if there’s a health issue with the paws, dogs usually lick their paws excessively if they are itchy, irritated, or painful. An explanation for this could be that your dog picked up a paw injury; your dog may have stepped on something that causes discomfort, like a sharp item or hot pavement. They could have been stung or bitten by an insect or some other animal or they could have an object or substance stuck to their paws and need help removing it. 

Another possibility could be that your dog has an abnormal growth on one of their paws like a cyst or a tumor. Or, your dog may have arthritis or an injury to the soft tissue or bones of the paw, which however you cannot see with the naked eye.

It’s also common that the reason your dog is licking paws is some infection. Many dogs develop fungal or bacterial infections of the paws. Such infections can occur for various different reasons. However, if there’s no physical reason for your dog to lick their paws excessively, then there’s a chance your dog has developed a behavior issue.

What to Do If Your Dog Is Licking Their Paws Too Much

You can start by taking a close look at the paws of your dog; inspect the spaces in between the digits as well as the tops and bottoms of the feet. Look for cuts, foreign objects, bruises, bleeding, swelling, redness or anything else that looks abnormal. If necessary, do give it first aid. Most importantly, you should contact your veterinarian whether or not the paws look abnormal to you. Your vet needs to rule out health problems before you start trying to address a behavior issue.

Your vet may refer you to a specialist depending upon whether or not your dog has a problem that may need advanced testing or treatment.