What Causes Dogs To Lick Their Paws and Legs

So what causes dogs to lick their paws and legs? With this video and infographic, we help you discover why. For owners, it can be very frustrating and also worrying if their dog begins to continually lick his paws, especially for an extended period. 

Although it’s quite normal for dogs to lick their paws occasionally, it’s when it becomes excessive that problems can arise. They can develop stains on the fur around their feet, and more worrying, swollen, or inflamed wounds, that need treatment and investigation in case of more serious health problems.

This content takes around 5 minutes to read, but if you are in a hurry, we have also included a table of contents below so you can see at a glance what the content is.

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Causes Of Excessive Paw Licking in Dogs:



1): To Clean a Wound:

If they have injured themselves or incurred a wound, they are probably likely to lick the affected area. It helps the wound to heal faster, because the action of licking, actually helps to increase the blood flow.

It can also help to clean out any dirt or debris around the infected area. Some experts have said that there are healing properties within a dog’s saliva.

If your dog has stitches, please discourage licking because they might pull them out. In these cases, it’s better that your dog wears a hood, so as to allow the healing to complete.

2): To Groom and Clean:

We tend to forget that the paws are the part of the body that is most in contact with the ground. This means that they get dirty more often and paw licking is an important part of the overall cleaning routine.

Any dirt which may have accumulated within or underneath the paw pads will also be helped by the licking. Please check out our best pet cleaning products.

3): Allergies:

If we as dog owners itch, we automatically scratch the affected part. This is the same for your dog. One cause of irritation would be ticks and fleas. If you suspect this is the cause, then talk to your vet about a good flea and tick treatment.

Allergies, linked to pollen, are a major cause of any excessive licking or itching. Inflammation of the skin will be due to allergens. Your vet will usually prescribe a steroid for the itching. Steroids have side effects and are not recommended for long-term use.

From research, it has been found that pedigree dogs suffer more from allergies than mixed breeds. This video below delves into the various reasons behind excessive paw licking, including allergic skin disease.

Info Box

Atopy (skin allergies) is an inherited condition affecting many breeds, especially terriers. Signs usually develop between six months and three years of age. – ( Source – BlueCross – bluecross.org.uk )

Also, there are some great dog brands that can help dogs with allergies.

4): Dry Skin:

What Causes Dogs To Lick Their Paws and legs

There are a number of reasons for dry skin, from hormonal upsets, and food allergies to central heating. Again, excessive paw licking can result from this health issue.

One of the main reasons is an underactive thyroid gland. The skin is not kept supple and moist because not enough of the thyroid hormone is produced.

With this health issue, it is so important to consult your vet.

5): Other Problems:

Obsessive licking or chewing can be the result of problems such as anxiety, boredom, or even OCD. ( Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  It is best to nip these in the bud before they get serious. Give your dog plenty of exercises, combined with play.

6): Hot Spots:

Excessive licking can cause further problems with the skin. This is called acute moist dermatitis and hot spots.

Info Box

Dog dermatitis is a condition that can affect your dog’s skin, causing itching and inflammation. If it continues, it can start to affect your pet’s quality of life, affecting their appetite and their ability to rest. – ( Source – Animal Trust – www.animaltrust.org.uk )

They are so-called because they develop into a wet and red area which can progress to a sore. They can become very painful, very quickly, so it’s important that you get your dog to a vet as soon as possible.

Hot spots are also an indicator of a weak immune system or your dog suffering from stress.


Infographic – Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws:

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As can be seen, the problems of excessive paw licking are various and many. The important thing is to deal with it quickly, by enlisting the help of your vet. As always, you want the best for your dog, and this is definitely the best course of action.

Some experts have stated that a positive and important part of licking, is that it helps to calm and make your dog feel better. This is because licking releases feel-good endorphins into the system.

Please remember that a healthy dog will bring great health benefits to us as dog owners. Never forget this.


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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Disclaimer:  All material on this website is provided for your information only. It may not be construed as medical advice. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals or veterinarians on any matter relating to their pet’s health and well-being. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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2 thoughts on “What Causes Dogs To Lick Their Paws and Legs”

  1. I always thought that dogs only lick there pawns because they were just cleaning they pawns I didn’t know that some dogs. Will do it compulsively or that dogs can even have OCD that’s was good and this article isn’t too long which is good to me to many people make them last forever

    • Harold

      Thank you for taking the time to make a reply. I sincerely always appreciate it. I am glad tha tthe article was of some use for you


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