Why Is My Dog Obsessively Licking His Paws And What Can I Do About It?


Why Is My Dog Obsessively Licking His Paws And What Can I Do About It?

Dogs are well known for their love of licking and will happily try and snag a taste of virtually anything, or anyone, that comes their way. Licking themselves is also part of how your precious furbaby will groom himself, removing excess hair from his body and helping to keep himself clean. This means that some time spent licking his paws is completely natural. However, if your canine pal is obsessively licking his paws, or perhaps even biting or chewing on them, there is an underlying cause that could require veterinary intervention.

Signs that your dog is having paw problems

In addition to actually witnessing your canine persistently licking or chewing his paws, you may also spot parts of the paw becoming red, swollen or inflamed. If he has been biting or chewing them, open wounds may develop, and these could potentially become infected, marked by similar symptoms including crusting, oozing or a foul smell emanating from the area.

What is causing my dog to obsessively lick his paws?

There tend to be three main underlying reasons why your doggy seems unable to stop licking his paws. These are:



Atopy occurs as a result of your dog being hypersensitive to certain allergy-causing substances such as pollen or dust mites. It is essentially the equivalent to the human version of the condition, and when your dog becomes exposed to the allergen, he will experience a range of symptoms with one of the most prevalent being intense itching. Atopy can affect any dog, but some breeds are particularly susceptible, including Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and Bulldogs. If your pet is allergic to seasonal allergens, he may only experience atopy during certain months of the year.


Unfortunately, atopy is anything but simple to diagnose and instead it will be necessary for your dog to undergo an elimination journey to try and find the allergen that is causing your furbaby to obsessively lick his paws. However, by identifying the cause and eliminating your dog from coming into contact with it as much as possible, you can reduce the effects of atopy.


Food allergies

Animals can develop good allergies too, and much like other types of hypersensitivity, this can cause them to suffer from a variety of different symptoms, including irritation of the paws and paw pads. Just like with other types of allergies, in order to treat it you must first find the underlying trigger. In the case of food allergies, our vet will very likely suggest an elimination diet to try and determine the root cause of your pet’s suffering.



Most canines will succumb to a flea infestation at some point during their lifetime. These tiny parasites have toxins in their saliva that causes an allergic reaction, and flea allergies account for countless visits to veterinary clinics across the country every year. Intense scratching and licking are the most common symptom of a flea problem, and if you suspect this may be what is causing your dog to obsessively lick his paws, you should seek out the appropriate flea treatment for your pet and home as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are now more types of flea preventative than ever before, so it is possible to keep your furbaby completely safe from these microscopic but highly irritating creatures. 


Secondary problems

Unfortunately, persistent licking, biting and chewing of the paws can cause secondary problems to develop. Two of the most common are bacterial and yeast infections which tend to be caused by the excess moisture that accumulates with obsessive mouthing of the paws. These can actually worsen the itchiness that your dog experiences and can cause problems such as swelling, pus, and pain.

Treating paw-based skin infections

Since your dog needs to walk on his paws to get around, it is crucial that you seek out treatment to make him comfortable as soon as possible, particularly since some problems can cause moderate to severe pain. In addition to eliminating the underlying cause of the problem (where possible), your dog may be recommended treatments that include:

-         Antibiotic medication (used to treat skin infections)

-         Antibiotic cream

-         Antifungal cream

-         Prescription shampoo

-         Steroids (to decrease inflammation)

-         Topical sprays

Our veterinarian may also speak to you about flea/tick preventatives.

If your dog seems to be obsessively licking his paws and you would like further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us or pop into the clinic to speak to our friendly, experienced team.