Why does the dog keep licking its feet? 9 health problems that can cause the symptom

László Enikő

2023. May 13 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Most dogs lick their paws from time to time. To a certain extent this is normal behaviour, but if it happens often, you may have a health problem.


The dog also licks and cleans itself. If this happens too often, there may be a problem and it is worth checking the dog’s feet. Typically, the problem occurs when the area becomes red, inflamed or hairless. The problem can quickly worsen if the farmer does not act, and an infection can develop. What does it mean if a dog licks its feet a lot?


Constant licking of the paw is a common sign of boredom. This can be easily remedied. Distract it from this bad habit by invitie to play or tying it up with developmental toys. Walks and dog sports are also great ways of dealing with this. Draining excess energy is important both physically and mentally. The more active breeds need special attention, they are more likely to get bored as they were originally bred to work and exercise continuously.

Nervous system problems

Licking feet can also be a sign of various mental illnesses. Anxious, stressed or depressed dogs often do this. Compulsive actions, such as tail licking or paw chewing, may indicate OCD.

Tail wagging can also indicate compulsive action.

Preventing action is more difficult in this case. Mostly because animals tend to become anxious and stressed when the owner is away. Such pets should not be left alone for long periods. If you do, try to leave them with someone while you are away, or try a doggy day care. A developmental toy can also be a great help during lonely hours to keep him entertained while you’re on your own. If you think your dog has a neurological problem, make sure you see your vet.


Allergies are one of the most common causes of paw licking. It can be to food, pollen, house dust, chemicals or even medicines. In this case, the foot often becomes red and swollen and may develop a rash. It is worth taking the dog for an allergy test where the doctor will determine exactly what is causing the symptoms. In the majority of cases it is feeding. Chicken and cereals often trigger allergies in dogs, so it is best to avoid foods containing these ingredients. Hypoallergenic foods are specially formulated for dogs with allergies.

Atopic eczema can also cause paw pain.


Take a good look at your pet’s paw pads. He may have been stung by a wasp, stung by something, have a toadstool between his toes or have a damaged wolf’s mane. In the case of an external injury, it’s best to take your dog to a vet who will treat the wound.

Hot summer tarmac or salted roads in winter can also wash out the paw, so extra care should be taken when walking at this time. In hot weather, only take your pet out early in the morning and late in the evening, and in winter, keep the feet groomed, put shoes on them and avoid salted roads.

Dogs can easily injure their feet, so it is vital to check them regularly.

Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease is a relatively rare, hormonal disease. It is most often caused by a tumour of the adrenal glands or pituitary glands, which produces too many hormones. Red rashes appear on the paws and other areas of the body, and the skin becomes flaky and thin. Thyroid insufficiency also produces similar symptoms, but the surface of the skin thickens. Other symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include excessive water consumption, fatigue and frequent panting.

Skin diseases and dry skin

Dry, inflamed skin is a typical symptom of skin diseases, and sometimes the fungal infection is visible to the eye due to shed hair. In this case it is important to take your pet to a vet as soon as possible. Dry skin is relatively common in hairless dogs, so they need special attention and care. Frequent bathing can also cause this, so only shampoo your pet if it is really necessary. There are also oils, medicated shampoos and creams specifically for dogs with dry, dandruff-prone skin.

Fungal skin disease can appear anywhere on the dog’s body.


Itching, nibbling and licking most often indicate the presence of fleas. Tiny bloodsuckers cause a lot of inconvenience to the animal and are difficult to eradicate, so prevention is the key. If they have already appeared, they should be removed as quickly as possible, as they are a threat to humans. Some dogs may also be allergic to fleas, which can make the problem worse. Proteins in the parasite’s saliva trigger an increased immune response, leading to red, inflamed and itchy skin.


In extreme cases, the animal becomes so obese that its legs can barely support its own body weight. This can also cause the paws to lick if they become inflamed. So you need to take immediate action by feeding them properly and exercising them regularly. Such a dog cannot run fast laps around the dog run, but gradually increasing the walking distance can be a good start.

The paws of overweight dogs are subject to increased stress.

Claws too long

Claws that are too long can cause pain, so the dog will lick its paws. It’s important to keep your pet’s nails tidy and have them trimmed by a groomer if necessary and they don’t wear properly on their own. In fact, with a little research you can even do it yourself.

allergic dermatitis allergies dog licking its paws dog licks Health health problem health problems leg injuries licking mental health parasites Skin skin disease stress

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