There are times everyone asks themselves that question when they’re next to a dog who has been licking their paws for what seems like an excessive amount of time and you can’t figure out why. There are quite a few reasons a dog may be licking their paws, and some of them might be worth taking a further look into.
There are a few infections your dog can develop in their paws that may be causing them to lick them. If you notice anything different about your dog’s paws, such as a smell, hair loss, redness, or scabbing, be sure to check to make sure they aren’t infected and treat their paws properly if needed.
Bacteria and yeast are naturally found on your dog, but sometimes issues cause them to build up and create an infection. Your dog may lick their paws a lot to try and clear the infection up.
Ringworm is a fungus, not an actual worm, that can easily cause an infection when a dog, or human, comes in contact with it. Be sure to clean everything carefully when dealing with a ringworm infection, as the fungal spores can live for up to 18 months.
As dogs don’t usually wear shoes to go exploring, the occasional injury is bound to happen. If you notice your dog methodically licking one paw specifically, be sure to check for an injury there, as it may become infected if left untreated.
Burns and Blisters
Though not the most common injury, dogs can still get burns or blisters on their paws from things like hot concrete/asphalt or by having too close of an encounter with a firepit. Sometimes, blisters may form between toe pads from repeated movements. Be sure to check your dog’s paws if you’ve been walking a lot.
Like humans, dogs have nails that need to be cut and managed. Sometimes a dog’s nails will become overgrown or ingrown, causing them pain. When this happens, the nails need to be cut to provide the dog any relief. Other times, your dog may break a nail, which can be quite painful for them.
Winter Salt Melts
Most winter salt melts use either table salt or calcium chloride (still salt) as their main ingredient. Salt melt with these as the main ingredient can cause chemical burns on your dog’s paws when left on for too long. This happens often as your dog cannot properly clean the salt off of their paws themselves. Be sure to clean your dog’s paws after a walk during winter to prevent salt burns.
Sometimes, your dog may be licking their paw because something happened to it that’s irritating it, like a bug bite or pebble.
People aren’t the only ones who get bitten by bugs, and dogs provide relief to their itchy bites by licking them.
Mites, Ticks, and Other Parasites
If you notice anything weird about your dog’s fur, be sure to check for mites, ticks, or even fleas. All of these can cause irritation, fur loss, or itching, resulting in your dog licking the affected area in an attempt to rid themselves of the organisms.
Something Stuck in Their Paw
Occasionally, a pebble or something will get lodged between your dog’s toe pads and cause irritation or pain. They will lick their paw in the area in an attempt to dislodge the item.
Dogs age whether we want them to, and with aging comes all sorts of problems.
As dogs get older, their joint health deteriorates and can cause them pain. It’s also possible that they’ve injured the joint currently or previously, and are licking their paw to soothe the pain.
Anxiety and Boredom
Dogs, no matter the age, can suffer from anxiety, separation anxiety, and boredom. Oftentimes, they will lick their paws as a soothing and comforting motion to ease their anxiety. Licking their paws is also a way for them to pass the time when bored.
When you ask yourself, “Why do dogs lick their paws?” you should make sure to check your dog’s paws for any issues, irritants, or injuries to make sure your dog is as healthy and comfortable as possible.