Dog paw licking: what are possible reasons?

Dog paw licking: what are possible reasons?

If your pet is constantly licking his dog paws, the reasons can be very different. Every dog licks his paws from time to time and we don’t have to worry about that either. However, if the dog paw licking becomes disproportionate, it can quickly develop into a serious health problem.

Licking dog paws can be harmless

If the dog’s paws are itchy, the dog will try licking or gnawing on them, Mitigation to provide. The saliva on the skin provides a pleasant cooling for the quadruped and reduces the itching at the same time. The constant licking destroys the skin barrier, inflammation and annoying itching follow. So bacteria and fungi can penetrate easily. These then provide further deterioration, in turn, it will be licked even more and so can not heal. The actual basic disease, which caused the licking, is often followed by a secondary disease. A vicious circle so to speak.

Your dog remembers that licking his dog paws will reduce the itching. And this alleviation releases positive messengers in the brain, the so-called endorphins. In the long run thus the licking can cause – also without itching – with the dog nearly feelings of happiness. The excessive licking behavior will then be maintained, even though the skin condition may have been resolved long ago. Also dogs, which suffer from extreme boredom, tend to make from the licking straight a compulsive action.

There are several causes for licking the dog’s paws

The reasons for a pathological licking or gnawing of the dog’s paws are quite different. Sometimes several factors come together. These are some examples. For an exact clarification of the reason you should however visit your veterinarian.


Autumn grass mites

Especially in late summer between July and October, these parasites are a nuisance for our dogs. The adult autumn grass mite (Trombicula autumnalis) disturbs our four-legged friends little. Their larvae, on the other hand, leave a salivary secretion on the paws during the sucking act, which causes a sometimes massive itching in the affected dogs. The dogs therefore start to lick.

The organisms, which belong to the arachnids, can be detected under the microscope. The veterinarian can treat it well with a suitable antiparasitic agent.

Yeast fungi

Numerous fungi also live on the skin of our dogs, including a yeast fungus called Malassezia. This is – just like the mites – for a healthy dog completely unproblematic. Only if the skin flora of the animal is seriously disturbed, for example by an allergy, hormonal disturbances or also constant licking, the fungus multiplies rapidly and leads to a strong itching. Also a pronounced wrinkling, as in the Shar Pei or Pug, favors a multiplication of the fungus, especially on the ears and between the toes.

For diagnosis, the vet takes skin cells from the dog’s paws with a strip of scotch tape and can immediately check them for malassezia with a staining test. For successful treatment usually a special medical shampoo is sufficient. If the itching returns, the triggering cause must be searched for more intensively, such as an allergy.

Fortunately, yeasts are not contagious to humans or animals.

Skin fungus

Skin fungi usually lead to a circular hair loss and are often accompanied by an unpleasant itchiness. So that the veterinarian can clearly detect the fungus, a culture is created, so that – depending on the type of fungus and its growth rate – after 4 to 21 days clarity exists. Important with skin fungi: They are usually contagious, for humans and animals. So please also check the other animals in the household for an infestation and be a little careful when treating them.

But with a special shampoo and ointments the skin fungus is treatable.

Foreign body

If the dog always licks the same paw, a small foreign body can also be the cause. Perhaps a grain grenade with its hard tip has bored under the skin. A thorn can also become lodged or even encapsulated in the tissue. If you cannot remove the foreign body yourself with tweezers or traction ointment, usually only a small incision is necessary at the vet and the trigger for the itching is already removed.

Fur felt

Especially in long-haired dog breeds, the hair on the paws can also become a problem. It should be checked regularly and shortened if necessary, otherwise there is a risk of matting, which can then also cause pain and skin inflammation. Consequently, the affected dog licks and nibbles at the paws.


If physical causes were excluded on the part of the veterinary surgeon, the psyche can also be causally involved. Especially sensitive and nervous dogs can start to lick their paws in stressful situations – like some people start to bite their fingernails in such situations. It should be counteracted with targeted training and behavioral therapy measures, since licking can be harmful.

This text was created in collaboration with Regina Rademachers:

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Also my dog licks constantly the paws, lately he has eidriges eye-running, that I with meimem own eye-drops well again hin.
I am worried that my dog tends to lie down on the treats that he used to love to eat.
My guess is that it ev.Toothache has. I do not know unfortunately further can they give me a tip.
Sereinig Bernhard

we are glad that you seek our advice! Because of the symptoms you describe, we advise you to take your dog to a veterinarian. As described in the article, you can check in advance if there is any felt on the paws that might be disturbing and encouraging your dog to lick them.

As soft, easy to chew treats we recommend our ZooRoyal Softmix. However, in case of illness, please check with your vet in advance if you can give your dog the treats.

We wish your dog a speedy recovery and all the best for both of you!

Many greetings
Your ZooRoyal team

Hello, our 4 year old Chihuahua constantly licks his front feet and back legs, he also often nibbles on the legs, without what gets bloody. on the back of his legs he already has some discoloration from licking, right where the thigh joins the body. he has been licking since we got him, he came to us when he was 10 weeks old. In the past we never really noticed it, but now when we had his coat sheared for the summer it seems to be 2-3 times worse. on some days he also tries to get to his after, but that is as if something has just stung him and not as often as the other licking! I don’t think of an allergy, because he has often been given something else to see how he reacts, but it was always the same with the licking. what else can it be and what do you do about it?? an allergy test we can not afford, have only 2 years ago over 1000, – (one thousand) mussen pay, he was bitten by the fighting dog and the fighting dog owner had no liability insurance. Now I have a title from the court, but there is nothing to seize. We can just afford the running costs and something like tax and liability, as well as his
vaccinations. I am retired and have only 900,-euro for everything, dog, rent, electricity, etc., there is only 150,- for food and free time.
Friendly greetings,

we can imagine very well, in what a difficult situation you are now with this problem. Unfortunately, there is no way around a veterinary examination here. In this case, we advise you to talk openly with the vet and tell him about your financial problems. You can also contact animal welfare organizations. Within their possibilities they are often ready to help in cases like your Chihuahua.

We keep our fingers crossed that you will be able to help your dog quickly and cheaply!

Many greetings
your ZooRoyal team

Hello Klaus!
I also have a paw chewing dog.
Since he was gaining weight, we went to the vet.He has examined the dog thoroughly (blood count, palpation and x-ray…)
Then the vet said.he has a hip defect from birth, which is not curable.And the paw licking was (is) to relieve the pain.

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