Health

How To Stop Dog From Licking Paws (Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?)

How To Stop Dog Licking Paws
Written by Adriana

While it is natural for your dog to lick their paws when grooming, you may have noticed that they are licking them excessively. And now you may be looking for ways on how to stop a dog from licking paws.

Various reasons can make your dog lick their paws which can range from allergies, skin issues, injuries, pain, to mental problems.

You must identify what is causing your dog to lick their paws and treat them or train them to stop the licking.

This article will provide you with information about the reasons why your dog licks their paws and what you can do to stop it.

How Can I Tell If My Dog’s Licking Or Chewing Is A Problem?

Dog Licking Paws

The following are the signs that show your dog’s licking is an issue that needs to be addressed:

  • Your dog’s paws are stained with a pink or red color. The stain is clearer in dogs with lighter coats, and it shows that the porphyrin pigments in your dog’s saliva are in contact with their feet too often to cause a stain. Normal licking is not too frequent to cause discoloration compared to habitual chewing or licking.
  • Swollen feet could be a sign of infection or injury due to excessive licking. Alternatively, your dog could be licking their paws because of an injury.
  • Smelly paws could be due to an infection of an open wound.
  • Your dog is showing signs of discomfort and is limping.
  • You notice scabs or blood on the paws.
  • Irritation or redness on the paws.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

The following are the main reasons why your dog is licking their paws:

Skin Allergies

Also known as dermatitis, a skin allergy happens when the skin comes in contact with a new particle and becomes irritated which may cause your dog to lick their paws.

Like humans, the skin of your dog can react to certain particles and chemicals. If your dog is reacting to these things on their paws, they will lick it using their tongue as a way of scratching.

When your dog starts licking excessively, you should monitor what substances have been in contact with. They can be man-made like chemicals used on lawns or natural from plant foliage.

If allergy reactions are left untreated, they can become serious and cause stress in your dog’s body because the immune response causes the release of stress hormones.

Food Allergies

Food allergies can be difficult to identify, and they are known to cause itchy paws.

If you are not sure what food your dog is allergic to, speak to your vet about it and they may suggest the elimination of certain ingredients or a special diet to solve the problem.

Cleaning

Dogs lick themselves as a way of cleaning their body. They often lie down and lick their body and legs to remove residue and dirt from their skin and coat. Dog saliva contains enzymes that kill bacteria to keep a wound free from infection.

Naturally, dogs will clean their paws more often because they touch the floor and the ground. This prevents any bacteria that may be on the surface debris from causing skin infection by multiplying.

Dog’s tongues are effective in removing dirt from the crevices of the paws because they are more textured compared to human tongues.

If you are aware that your dog has stepped into something dirty, you should clean their paws before they clean it themselves by licking. It is easier that way instead of letting them ingest what is on the paws as it can potentially cause stomach upsets.

General Pain

Your dog will lick their paws if they are hurting. Arthritis and other joint problems can cause general pain in dogs. Your dog will lick their paws even if the pain is not directly on them as a nervous reaction to numb the pain.

Dogs like German Shepherds and Labradors are commonly affected by arthritis. This condition causes the wear of the cartilage between your dog’s bones leading to pain when your dog walks. Your dog’s bones can fuse over time and stop moving.

If you suspect that your dog has arthritis, speak to your vet and they can prescribe medication and diet to increase mobility and prevent pain.

Injuries

When your dog injures their paw, they will lick it to prevent the injury from being infected and to address the pain. To ensure that the injury does not get worse, find, and monitor it.

If your dog starts licking their paws suddenly, he may have burned his paw pads or stepped on something sharp.

Dog Licking Paws

Additionally, your dog may have been stung by a bee or bitten by other insects causing physical reactions.

Most dogs have a serious or allergic reaction to spider bites or bee stings even though most insect bites only lead to mild discomforts for short period. If you notice labored breathing, swelling, and nausea in addition to paw licking, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Mental Issues

Dogs develop health issues like nervousness or anxiety and become stressed just like humans. If your dog gets worried, they will start licking their paws as a coping mechanism or a kind of nervous twitch.

Boredom could also be the problem. If your dog is not mentally or physically stimulated, they may start licking their paws to pass time and do something.

Therefore, you should keep your dog occupied through exercise and doing tasks for them to be healthy and happy.

When your dog is left at home alone for longer periods, ensure that there is someone to visit them and walk them.

This is because they may experience separation anxiety which is a popular mental condition that causes stress in dogs when left alone. Dogs will lick their paws later as a form of residual stress.

Paw licking can also be a behavioral pattern in your dog. When your dog licks their paws for a period, the licking becomes a habit that stays regardless of the cause.

Since bad habits are hard to break, it can be difficult to stop your dog from licking his paws. Also, if your dog has cognitive issues like autism or dementia-like behaviors, licking their paws can be a habit.

Parasites

Parasites infections like mange or fleas can lead to itchy paws. Your vet will recommend treatments to remove the parasites and relieve the itching.

Secondary Infections

You should understand that paw licking can be an indication of an underlying problem that may be dangerous for your dog. You should speak to your vet to find the cause and the necessary solution.

Do not prolong the licking because the moisture from the saliva can lead to a secondary yeast or bacterial infection, which causes more redness, itching, licking, and swelling.

Why Should I Stop This Behavior?

Even if your dog enjoys chewing or licking his paws without any reason, you should consider stopping this habit.

Excessive chewing paws and paw licking can lead to inflammation, skin irritation, hot spots, open wounds, bacterial, or yeast infection.

While it may not be an issue now, you must stop this habit before it is too late and becomes an issue.

How To Stop Dogs From Licking Paws?

The following ways will help you stop your dog from licking his paws:

Socks or dog boots as paw coverings

Your dog will stop licking their paws when you put certain clothing items over the paws. When you cover the paws, the dog will not be able to lick them. Use a small piece of clothing or sock to wrap around the paws.

You can also use dog boots. When you put a boot on your dog’s paws, it can limit the licking. Your dog can chew through the boot because of irritation, therefore, monitor your dog while on the boots.

Dog boots prevent licking and stop injuries from happening. have multiple socks or boots available to prevent the dog from licking another paw after you cover the other.

Elizabeth collar

The cone collar or Elizabethan collar is an extreme but the most effective approach.

You could be having one already since it is provided to dogs after surgery, neutering, or spaying to prevent them from picking at their stitches.

Cone Collar For Dog

Dogs do not like being in these collars, and you will find them running into furniture with the cone in a bit to get rid of it. Despite the Elizabethan collar being uncomfortable, it keeps your dog from licking any part of its body.

Citrus and bitter apple

You can use juice from the citrus fruit to stop your dog from licking his body areas. Dogs don’t like the citrus juice taste, therefore, applying a few drops to the paws will prevent the dog from licking the paw.

The unpleasant taste of bitter apple will also discourage the dog from licking and chewing. It is commercially available and sold in a spray bottle for easy application and storage.

Oranges, lime, and lemon juices can also help your dog stop licking the paw. They will be put off by the smell of it even before they lick it.

Therefore, continuous application on the paw will eventually make your dog stop licking it. The extracts can also be applied to the bandage or socks to prevent the dog from chewing on them.

Training your dog to stop licking their paws

You can train your dog to stop licking the paws without using collars, coverings, or topical treatments, but with great supervision.

First, break the licking habit by occupying your dog with a lot of activities. When your dog is busy, he will not lick the paws. Secondly, provide your dog with chew toys and other distractions that are more desirable.

Make a distinctive sound like “eh!” when you see your dog licking the paw to get their attention and stop them from licking. If they repeat the licking, repeat the sound, and praise them when they stop, and soon they will learn that you don’t want them to do the licking habit.

Once they are aware that the habit is unwanted, you can easily interrupt them if they start and redirect their attention to a chew toy or something else. Monitoring this will minimize the licking if it is a habit and not because of an underlying cause.

Identify and avoid allergens.

Your dog’s itchy paws could be caused by recently planted trees, shrubs, or grass. The best way to know if a plant makes your dog bite and chew his feet is by performing intradermal skin testing with the help of a veterinary dermatologist.

To also figure out what your dog reacts to, you can check local pollen reports online. Dogs are believed to react to pollen on their skin when in contact or when they inhale.

If you want to reduce the exposure, do not walk your dog during times of high pollen. These times are between 5 am and 10 am, then again at dusk.

Provide your dog with dog boots to keep their feet clean when you take them for walks outside during allergy seasons.

Probiotics for the immune system

The veterinary communities have widely embraced probiotic supplements as safe and beneficial to dog health conditions.

The greatest part of an immune system is in the gut; therefore, feeding friendly bacteria to it creates a good effect on the whole body.

A trip to the vet

If you find that all the tactics are not working with your dog and still licks the paws obsessively, visiting a vet might be a better idea.

Your vet will be able to investigate the paws in much detail and can tell if any is bothering your dog’s skin. It could be a joint pain that’s causing the nervous response.

How To Stop Dog From Licking Paws? Home Remedy

Dog Licks Paw

The following are the home/natural remedies that you can apply to help your dog stop licking his paws. If you are not sure whether any of the remedies explained below are safe for your dog, speak to your vet about it:

Diet Improvement

Look into your dog’s diet and evaluate what might be causing the allergies. You must feed your dog food that is high in quality, free from allergens, and has lots of fatty acids which are beneficial for dry skin.

When changing your dog’s diet, you should do it slowly to avoid upsetting their stomach. Speak to your vet about the safe way of changing your dog’s diet.

Cleaner Environment

Dust mites and dust can cause allergic reactions to some dogs. Therefore, you should wash their bedding in warm water once per month and dry it in the sun.

When your dog is having a reaction, wash the bedding once per week. Dust your furniture and mop/vacuum the floors at least once per week. Avoid using strong cleaning products and fragrances.

During the seasons where there is high pollen, close the windows and the doors.

Wash Your Dog

It is recommended that you wash your dog once per week if they are licking themselves to remove dirt from their paws.

Use a dog shampoo and moisturizing conditioner when washing them. Ensure that you rinse their feet, on the bottom and top as well as between their feet.

Aloe Vera Gel

You can apply aloe vera gel to soothe your dog’s irritated skin. Apply small amounts as it should be an issue if your dog licks it. However, if your dog is sensitive to it and their skin becomes worse, stop using it

Tea Rinses

Tea rinses are a natural remedy for relieving itchy skin. You can make the herbal tea using dried chamomile, calendula, nettle, green tea, or yellow dock.

Put one tablespoon of the herb in a cup of boiling water and let it boil for five minutes. Then strain the herb and let the tea cool before putting it in a dish.

Let your dog stand in it for five minutes. Do this twice every day to relieve the irritation. Alternatively, you can soak a clean cloth with the tea then cover it on the affected area for five minutes two times per day.

Grated Cucumber

Cucumber is known to soothe inflamed skin. Grate a cucumber and compress it over the affected area for five minutes. Do this twice a day to reduce inflammation.

Flea Treatment

If you think fleas are irritating your dog’s skin, use flea treatment to get rid of it.

Baking Soda Bath

To soothe your dog’s feet, bath them in a mixture of baking soda and warm water. Keeping their feet in this mixture for about ten minutes will reduce the discomfort and itching, and possibly reduce the licking.

Coconut Oil

Since coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, applying it to your dog’s paws will soothe the irritation. Also, coconut oil helps in combating yeast or bacterial infection.

Final Words

Do not ignore it when your dog licks their paws excessively. It could be the start of an issue or a sign of a more serious problem.

Even though dogs clean themselves using their tongue, licking that affects the skin should be monitored and stopped immediately.

Talk to your vet about the issue of paw licking to give you recommendations on what you can do.

Hopefully, this article has given you information on how to stop dog licking paws.

About the author

Adriana

Adriana has been around dogs since she was a little kid. It all started with growing up with a German Shepherd Lord and an English Cocker Spaniel Bady. Her dream job has always been becoming a veterinarian. She has been taking care of animals all of her life and she wants to share her experience with other dog lovers.