It can be annoying to watch your dog excessively licking their paws, especially when it has become an obsessive habit that they can’t even pay attention to anyone or anything.
While it’s normal for dogs to groom their paws, too much can be indicative of an underlying problem.
There are specific reasons as to why your dog might develop this behavior, and there are a number of ways to help you correct the behavior.
Learn how to stop dogs licking their paws. We share with you why dogs lick their paws and the best solutions to this common issue. We also provide a homemade solution for your dog’s licking behavior.
Why Dogs Lick Their Paws
Before understanding how you can stop your dog from licking their paws, you need to know why they do it. Here are six common reasons why your pooch might be licking their paws.
If your dog suddenly licks their paws, then they might be irritated or in pain, especially if they’re focused only on one paw.
This suggests that the source of trouble is right there on the paw. They might have a wound, insect bite, a piece of glass, a broken nail, etc.
But if you don’t see anything, try taking your dog to the vet. Licking their paws may mean they are having a muscle sprain or some type of fracture, especially if it is accompanied by limping.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks cause severe itchiness that can lead to compulsive paw licking and chewing. This can worsen if your dog is allergic to fleas. Make sure to get rid of fleas in your house and not just those on your dog’s body.
Licking is usually attributed to allergies to food, chemicals, weeds, and more.
For instance, if your dog is licking their paws after a walk, then they might be itching due to pesticides found in grass or the weeds themselves. In this case, clean their feet with a wet wipe to see if it stops the licking.
If it persists then take your pup to the vet so they can do a blood test and check for any allergies.
They can then prescribe specific medications to alleviate the allergies instead of just letting your dog take antihistamines to cover the problem.
If you suspect a yeast infection, then it might be because of a poor diet. A vet can also give you the best advice for this!
A dog who licks their paws too much may sometimes be suffering from GI issues. This clinical study conducted by a group of researchers has 19 dogs that were showing signs of excessive licking and compares them with 10 healthy dogs.
The dogs went through a physical and neurological exam, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopic test, and biopsies of the stomach and duodenum were taken.
It found out that 14 out of the 19 licking dogs had GI abnormalities like chronic pancreatitis.
Dry skin can be breed-specific or caused by over-bathing. It can also be because of a dry environment.
Hairless breeds are more likely to have dry skin because they don’t have natural protection that the hair provides.
Dogs may be looking for relief from anxiety or boredom when they lick themselves excessively. For humans, it’s like the common nail-biting habit.
Dogs may also be licking their paws to sleep. If there is no redness or swelling, this type of paw-licking should not be a concern.
This video provides more information on why your dog may be licking their paws.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Their Paws
Repetitive licking can damage your dog’s body, leading to Lick Granuloma, a skin disorder characterized by raw, inflamed skin that results in raised and thickened tissue.
Coating your dog’s paw with a bitter spray or cream can help prevent them from licking the area. Some people say to use chili or pepper, but you should only use pet-safe products as they won’t irritate your dog’s eyes or nose.
In that case, we recommend Emy’s Best Stop the Chew Bitter Spray. Although it is made for dogs who chew, it’s also applicable for fur babies who love to use their tongue!
This powerful bitter deterrent is safe and free from alcohol, so you can use it on their skin and even on your furniture.
This bitter spray is easy to use and requires no complicated steps. If you have enough time, you can even browse through their online training program provided on the product which aims to gain control over your dog’s chewing or licking.
You may also put an Elizabethan collar to help stop your dog from reaching their paw with their tongue.
If it’s starting to cause irritation, you can resort to bandaging the area if necessary. It’s important to note that some dogs may chew at their bandage or they may just swap to licking the other leg.
Home Remedy for Dog Licking Paws
If you want to resolve your dog’s licking problem with ingredients you can find at home to save money, you can make your own bitter spray.
Remember to use safe products that will not irritate your dog’s paws or digestive system when they try to lick the area.
Here’s what you need for a DIY bitter spray:
- ⅔ cups of white vinegar
- ⅓ cup of apple cider vinegar
- ⅔ cups of water
- Lemon (optional, depends on your dog’s likeness of the fruit, and their sensitivity to it).
All you have to do is to mix everything. Remember that the most important ingredient here is the water because white vinegar and apple cider vinegar alone can be intensely acidic.
Mix everything, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and spray on your dog’s paws to stop them from licking.
Put an End to Your Dog’s Licking
Your dog’s tongue is made for licking, and that’s what it will do! While this is normal, excessive licking, especially of the paws, can be a sign of pain, allergy, ticks and fleas, and many more.
As the dog parent, your job is to find out the underlying cause and to help your pup with their problem.
One way to stop your dog from licking their paws is to put up a barrier, such as a bandage or a collar. Remember that some dogs may chew at their bandage or they may just swap to licking the other leg.
We also recommend using a bitter spray. You can either buy one or save a few bucks by simply mixing white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and water together to make your own.