Ever wonder, “why does my dog lick his paws?”

Dogs lick their paws for all kinds of reasons, and some of those reasons are worthy of your attention. Read below to learn more about why your dog is licking its paws and when you should be concerned.

5 Reasons Your Dog is Licking Its Paws

1. Allergies

It’s common for dogs to have allergies. What’s frustrating, though, is that it can be hard to figure out what those allergies are.

One specific sign of an allergic reaction, though, is excessive licking of the paws. Are your dog’s paws cracked, red, inflamed, or swollen? Is your fur baby constantly itching? Is your pet licking its paws continuously, or just during certain times of the day? 

Some dogs have strange allergies that can be confusing. Environmental allergies, like dust mites, pollen from grass, and mold spores can become allergic reactions that equate to itchy, swollen paws. It’s also common for a dog to be allergic to something in its food, too.

Pay attention to when your dog is licking its paws, like after it’s been outside playing or finishing a meal. Also, consider the season, and if your dog is experiencing seasonal allergies. This can be a big indicator of what he or she has been exposed to and is might be allergic to.

Wash the paws with a soft and natural dog shampoo. Dry off the paws and massage natural shea butter into the paw pads. Shea butter can be used as a gentle salve for paws that feel cracked, providing relief for your pup.
Whether your dog has allergies or not, he or she will love having soft paws from shea butter. That’s a promise.

2. Bacterial/Fungal Infections

Because bacteria and fungi already live on your dog’s paws, it’s not out of the question for them to get infected from time to time. On occasion, though, bacteria and fungi can get out of control and cause an infection. 

Tell-tale signs of bacterial infections look like red and swollen paws. In addition to licking, your dog may be chewing his paws as well. You might see drainage, with skin between the toes looking aggravated and sometimes greasy. There might even be a brown color to the nails. 

A bacterial or fungal infection in the paw can also accommodate an allergy your furbaby may be experiencing. Either way, bacterial infections in the paws are a cause for concern and require veterinary attention. Your vet is likely to prescribe a topical cream, wipes, or a soap treatment to kill off the infection.

If you think there is an infection in the paw but aren’t able to see a vet right away, use all-natural and chemical-free wipes to clean the affected paw of any discharge, drainage, grease, or debris. Next, use a gentle dog shampoo to remove bacteria.

Finally, if your dog can’t stop licking or chewing the infected paw, utilize a cone until you can see your vet.

3. Nail Issues

Long toenails can cause a lot of pain for dogs, which can result in paw licking to self-soothe. When nails are too long, they press upon the ground when your dog walks. The pressure on the nail pushes the nail back and up into the dog’s paw. 

Overgrown nails can significantly decrease your animal’s quality of life, causing unnecessary pain and misery for your dog. Could you imagine a shooting pain making its way into your feet each time you take a step? It’s pretty awful to think about.

In addition, long nails are the gateway to torn nails and ingrown toenails. Ingrown nails form when long nails are worn down from walking on hard surfaces like the sidewalk or pavement. Torn nails can become fractured when your pup snags the nail on something. Torn nails bleed and are very painful for dogs.

Regularly trimming your dog’s nails is essential to its health and well-being, just as it is ours. Nail trims are usually about $10, and maybe more if you require a mobile dog groomer to come to you.

4. Cracked Paw Pads

Dogs are supposed to have rough paw pads. It’s what keeps their feet protected, provides balance and support, and allows traction on the ground. But with varied factors like constant licking, a hot sidewalk, harsh winter weather, or extremely dry air, paws can become agitated and cracked.

Cracked paws are a cause for concern because they can lead to infection. As your dog continues to lick the cracks in an effort to feel better, saliva brings in even more bacteria. This can make a crappy situation even worse for your pup. 

Since dogs play outside and on all kinds of different terrains, cuts and micro abrasions are common. By nature, dogs are susceptible to these kinds of injuries—which could make a dog want to lick their paws off if left unattended.

If you’re still asking yourself, why does my dog lick his paws, you might want to check for injury.

Survey your dog’s paws and look for sharp objects like glass, cacti spines, burrs, rocks, or other popular debris in your area. If your dog isn’t injured but is experiencing cracked paws, a natural dog paw salve will deliver relief fast. Give your dog a nice massage with the salve and let them heal.

5. Self Soothing

Have you ever noticed your pup licking its paws before bed, or when relaxing? When dogs self-soothe, they often lick their paws. Sometimes these before-bedtime-licks can seem aimless, with lazy licks and tired eyes.

Paw licking is a dog’s number 1 way of calming itself down, especially in times of distress. When a dog injures itself, it will lick. But not all licking is a cause for concern, just as not every cut or injury is reason enough for a vet visit.


It’s important to understand that your dog is probably telling you something by licking its paws. Cracking the code can feel impossible in some instances. If you feel that there is a cause for concern, or that your dog is in pain, take him or her to the vet, or dive into online research. 

In addition, there are many home remedies to help your dog cope with symptoms while you wait to see the vet. 

Be patient when it comes to correcting this behavior. Consistency is key and it might take a while. In the meantime, learn more about how a brace could support your dog if he or she is licking due to joint problems or a torn ACL.