Licking paws is part of a dog’s regular grooming routine. Excessive licking and itching can be due to various issues which must be addressed.
Whether it is out of boredom or out of compulsion, dogs love licking things. A dog will lick the wall, you, or itself.
One of the most common sights is seeing dogs licking their paws.
Dogs licking paws is natural and a part of their life. They do it to clean their paws or to groom the fur. Occasional licking is nothing to worry about.
Frequent licking can be the result of something more serious.
If your dog is excessively licking paws, you can try out a few remedies at home but if the conditions persist, visit a veterinarian for a checkup.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
Dogs lick their paws mainly because of allergies, infections, and dry skin. Having parasites in their fur can also lead to redness and itchiness in their paws which makes them lick their paws.
It can be frustrating to have your dog lick its paws all the time. It can be even more annoying for your dog if its paws are itching all the time. Dogs lick their paws occasionally out of boredom or to groom themselves.
There are several reasons why dogs can have itchy paws. These problems are generally easy to handle and do not require a visit to the veterinarian. If the conditions are excessive, then a consult would be a better idea.
Some of the most common reasons for paw itch are given below.
One of the biggest reasons for itchy paws is the presence of bacteria in the paws. Bacteria breeds and thrives in moist environments and the paws of dogs are the perfect places for this.
These infections can cause redness, swelling, and itching in various parts of the body. Dogs’ paws are susceptible to these harmful bacteria which can make them itch uncontrollably.
Dogs develop allergies from time to time. These allergies can either be environmental or food allergies.
Every dog is different and can be allergic to certain foods. Some of which are:
- Dairy products
Dogs can also be allergic to smoke, dander, pollen, and dust which can cause problems for them.
Allergies affect dogs’ skin rather than their respiratory system. Paws are the first point of contact with the ground which makes them vulnerable to catching allergens.
You should also avoid feeding table scraps to the canines. Their bodies are sensitive and can get affected by the greasy and high-sugar processed foods meant for human consumption.
Dry skin is not a medical issue but can be a cause for concern if your dog is licking its paws frequently. Changes in the weather and playtime can result in dry skin which is uncomfortable and itchy.
If your dog plays in dirt and sand a lot, its skin can lose moisture quickly and become dry.
Minor cuts, bruises, and scrapes are common among dogs as they walk barefoot. Dogs tend to lick their wounds and the affected area as they do when in case of itching.
If your dog has injured its paws, it can lick it due to pain.
Bacteria aren’t the only creatures that affect dogs. Fungi  also affect dogs’ skin and cause their paws to become itchy and red. Yeast is the most common type of fungus that affects dogs.
There are plenty of OTC medicines available for yeast infections. You can also consult a veterinarian to get better advice on how to proceed with your dog’s licking problem.
Some dogs have no medicinal issue to lick their paws. They do it simply because they are bored or have anxiety. Nervous dogs can start chewing and licking things out of anxiety as it helps them fight stress and keep their moods satisfied.
These behavioral issues can be tricky to treat and require a considerable amount of attention to change their habits.
Dog Licking Paws Remedies
There are several home remedies for dogs licking paws. You can try changing their shampoo or soaking their paws in baking soda. Eliminating fleas and ticks from their coats can help stop frequent licking.
If your dog is excessively licking its paws, you should find out whether they are doing it for fun or is there a medical issue.
Here are some of the remedies you can try at home and care for your canine friend.
1. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a strong and intense taste that dogs do not like. You can apply a mixture of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s paws to prevent it from licking. This is not a permanent fix, but it does temporarily stop dogs from licking their paws till you can find the key issue.
Add apple cider vinegar and water in the same amounts in a bowl and mix them up. Soak your dog’s paws in the mixture for a couple of minutes.
You should check for any cuts or scrapes in your dog’s paws before soaking them in the mixture. Apple cider vinegar can produce a burning sensation if it comes in contact with an open wound or cut.
2. Tweak the Diet
Your dog may be suffering from an allergic reaction to certain foods. Food allergies are common among dogs and often result in skin irritation.
Change your dog’s diet to high-quality foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins. If your dog is allergic to soy, pork, chicken, or wheat, avoid adding them to its diet.
Try to cut down on processed foods which can disrupt their pH levels.
3. Change Your Dog’s Shampoo
If food allergies are not the cause of itching, try switching your dog’s shampoo. Your dog’s skin may be sensitive to the ingredients in shampoo, which can cause irritation and redness.
Several shampoos are designed specifically to counter itching. These shampoos have natural ingredients such as oatmeal to nourish dogs’ skin.
Bathing too frequently is not good for dogs as it gets rid of the natural oils. This can cause further dryness and skin irritation.
4. Soak the Paws in Baking Soda
Baking soda has anti-inflammatory and anti-acidic properties which makes it an excellent ingredient to neutralize skin irritations. If your dog is constantly licking its paws, you can soak them in a baking soda mixture to reduce the itchiness.
Dissolve half a cup of baking soda in a lukewarm bucket of water. Soak your dog’s paws in the solution for about 8-10 minutes to make the best out of the remedy.
Repeat this process a few times throughout the day for better results.
5. Massage the Paws with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is good for the skin and helps keep it moisturized. It is also great at reducing skin irritations and rashes. You can massage your dog’s paws with coconut oil to reduce irritation and maintain their moisture levels.
Coconut oil is safe for consumption, so you don’t have to worry about your dog licking it. Using high-quality oil is recommended to get rid of the itchiness.
6. Tone Down its Anxiety
Dogs can lick or chew their paws if they are bored, anxious, or frustrated. This is not a medical condition, but it can be serious if attention is not paid. You can distract your dog by giving it a chew toy.
This can help your dog turn its attention from licking its paws to chewing the chew toy. You can also give your dog its favorite treat or play with them whenever it starts to lick its paws.
7. Get Dog Booties
One good way of dealing with dogs licking paws is to get dog booties. Dog booties are coverings for dog paws that protect dogs from external irritants and allergens.
Dog booties make it difficult for dogs to lick their paws. This is not a solution, and the main cause of itching must be identified. You should get durable and strong dog booties to ensure that your dog does not bite through them.
8. Use Honey to Moisturize the Skin
Excessive licking can dry out the skin and lead to rashes. Licking rashes can cause the skin to get damaged. Honey is an excellent ingredient to heal the skin. It fights infections and also serves as a moisturizer for the skin.
If your dog has scrapes and cuts on its paws, applying honey can help heal the wounds and stop the licking.
- Soak the paws in the water and dry them with a fresh towel.
- Apply honey to the paws and massage them gently.
- Cover the paws with some gauze and tape to secure them.
- Leave the gauze overnight and remove it the next day.
- Following these steps can help heal your dog’s paws and stop excessive licking.
9. Get Rid of Parasites
It is no secret that dogs can get infected with fleas, mites, and ticks. These parasites can cause excessive itching and scratching. You should regularly check for signs of these parasites and take steps to eliminate them.
You can add some dish soap to the bathwater and let your dog soak in it for 10-12 minutes. This helps get rid of the parasites and make your dog flea-free.
Related: How to Remove Ticks on Dogs
10. Give Your Dog a Chamomile Bath
Chamomile is a flowering plant that is used as a medicinal herb. It has antioxidant and antibacterial properties which make it an ideal choice for reducing skin irritation. This herb also has calming properties and helps provide relief to itchiness.
You can bathe your dog with some chamomile dissolved in the water. Soak your dog’s feet in the chamomile for a few minutes. This will help calm your dog and reduce skin irritation.
11. Tend to Wounds and Cuts
Open wounds and cuts are breeding grounds for bacteria. They are not only responsible for skin irritation but can also become infected which leads to further complications.
You can tend to little cuts or minor wounds yourself. If the damage is big, or if the site is already infected, go to a doctor immediately.
Some of the steps you can take to tend to wounds are:
- Wash the affected area with warm water and soap (unless the area is large).
- Gently pat a fresh towel against the areas to make them dry.
- If your dog is not a licker, you can apply ointment to the infected site.
- Cover the wounds with either bandages or dog booties for protection and to keep away external contaminants.
Dogs lick paws as it is part of their routine. Excessive licking can be the result of dry skin or some other medical issue. You must pay attention to your dog’s behavior and identify the main reason behind the licking.
Home remedies are supposed to be a temporary fix for small issues. If the licking persists, you must consult with a doctor to get proper treatment for your dog.
Why is My Dog Chewing Its Paws?
Your dog can be chewing its paws due to medical or behavioral issues. Behavioral issues involve habits and anxiety issues. Medical issues involve allergies, infections, cuts, scrapes, and dry skin. You should check for any of these issues or consult a veterinarian for better guidance.
How to Stop My Dog from Licking his Paws?
There are several ways to stop your dog from licking its paws. You can try to cure the problem which is causing this behavior, or you can look for temporary measures such as getting dog booties, soaking the paws in apple cider vinegar, and giving it a chew toy to curb its anxiety.