Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Its Paws?

Owning a dog is one of the most wonderful partnerships that someone can have – we love to spend time with them, ensuring that they have a healthy and happy life. By spending time with our dogs, we learn a tremendous amount about what they enjoy, how they learn, and what kind of food they love.

It is always interesting how a dog, with no words, can communicate so much. A dog’s ability to impart information to us is incredible. Whether using a bark, intent stare, folded back ears, or their body, dogs, let us know when they are hungry, tired, angry, or scared.

We can learn our dog’s secret language if we pay attention to how they react to different things, how they tell us what they like, don’t like, or what they need.

Dogs can tell us so many things – but sometimes it is hard to decipher your dog’s needs or wants. A barking dog may be trying to alert you to an intruder or that they want to go outside. A dog that is consistently licking its paws may also be trying to tell you something.

But what that is can be tricky to figure out – so let’s look at some of the reasons your dog may be licking their paws and what you should do about it.

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Its Paws?

Sad dog licking its paw

A dog that is licking its paws is trying to say something – what that is can vary depending on what is happening with them or around them.

At one time or another, most dogs lick their paws to clean them off or bite a nail off or at something that may be stuck in or on their foot.

That makes complete sense. However, sometimes dogs are licking their paws consistently, and there are several reasons that this behavior can occur.

Anxiety or Pain

Believe it or not, dogs can have anxiety that is not always presented by shaking or quivering. Anxiety in our pets can present itself by licking or constant grooming behavior.

A dog that is in pain can also lick their feet in the same way. Because a dog cannot tell you outwardly that they are upset or hurt, this is a way they use to try to say something is bothering them.

If you feel that anxiety or pain could be the reason your dog is licking their paws, a conversation with your vet and a current physical may help your dog deal with what is bothering them.


As funny as it sounds, bored dogs can start licking their feet as something to do – no different than a human twirling their hair, playing with a pencil, or chewing on your nails mindlessly. If your dog does not have something to do or play with, they may start to lick or chew on their feet for entertainment.


A very common reason for dogs to lick their paws is itchy dry skin or an allergic reaction to something in their environment. If this behavior is new to your dog, think back to what has changed recently – did you start new dog food?

Are there different chemicals or cleaners being used either inside your home or out on the lawn? Did they go to another groomer or have a new shampoo used?

Any of these things, plus more, can cause allergies to develop for our pets. Dogs, just like people, can have allergic reactions to something they eat, play with, walk on, or get cleaned with. If your dog has itchy feet, they may be trying to relieve that discomfort with licking.

Obsession With Their Feet

Dog paws in persons hand

Some dogs, for some reason, become slightly obsessed with licking their paws. Unfortunately, when this happens, it can become so severe that they essentially lick their feet until they are raw and red.

They can even lose all of the furs on their feet! Almost like a compulsion, they will lick their paws even if it hurts to do so.

If you think that your pup is obsessively licking its paws, try distracting them with playing.

More opportunities to go for a walk or spend time outside, or doing things that you know your dog enjoys. These distractions may help to stop the endless paw licking to give their feet a break.

In some instances, dogs may need to use a dog cone to stop them from licking and allow healing to occur.

Bottom Line

Although not every dog exhibits constant paw licking, if your dog is currently presenting with this behavior or suddenly starts licking their paws, they may be trying to tell you something.

Since there isn’t an easy way for your dog to tell you what is going on inside its head, it is your job to decipher what is happening as the dog owner.

If all else fails, your vet may have some great tips on medication or behavior adjustments that can help stop this from happening. Hopefully, in the end, your sweet pup will find something else to do with their time, such as spending it playing with you!

Lisabeth has been a content blog writer for almost 10 years. She had fostered many dogs in that time, including 11 Golden Retrievers. She recently adopted an Australian Shepard named Shadow.

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