Why do dogs lick their paws in Raleigh, NC?

Although it is completely normal for dogs to occasionally lick their paws, it is not normal for dogs to lick their paws aggressively or excessively in Raleigh. In fact, dogs licking their paws in either of these ways is sometimes the first indicator that something is wrong with them. As a result you should always take your dog to the vet if you suspect that the cause of their licking is medically related.

Dogs lick their paws for a variety of reasons. Some dogs lick their paws as a way to comfort themselves when they are stressed or anxious. Other times, dogs may lick their paws because they are feeling itchy or painful.

 In this article we will be explaining all of the common reasons why dogs lick their paws. In addition to this, we will also be explaining when you should see a vet about your dog’s paw licking habits and when it is most likely nothing to worry about. Let’s get into it.

9 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Paws

There are nine main reasons why dogs lick their paws. Although excessive paw licking can sometimes be an indicator of a behavioral issue such as anxiety or OCD, it is usually caused by dogs trying to relieve itchiness or pain in their paws. Here are the nine most common reasons why dogs lick their paws.

Dog’s Find Paw Licking Comforting

To some dogs paw licking is just a calming and relaxing activity for them. Some dogs will lick their paws when they are about to go to sleep or when they are relaxing on the couch. Of course, if you find your dog licking their paws aggressively or engaging in this behavior all of the time then it is a good idea to take them to the vet about this to rule out a medical cause. However, some pets lick their paws just because it is soothing for them.

Dog Anxiety

As we have mentioned, licking paws is a soothing activity for dogs. As a result some dogs may do this when they are anxious or stressed out, and it can also sometimes be a sign of chronic anxiety in dogs that seem to be licking their paws excessively. Speaking with a vet and an animal behaviorist about your dog’s licking habits can help to reduce it if anxiety or extreme stress is the cause.


In some more rare cases dogs can lick their paws excessively because they have OCD, and this is an obsessive compulsive behavior for them. If you suspect that your dog has OCD it is recommended that you take them to a vet to be evaluated and treated for this condition if diagnosed. Although this is a relatively rare condition in dogs, some dog breeds can be more prone to developing OCD than others.

Dog Licking Paws in Raleigh

Dog Allergies

Allergies often cause dogs to have itchy paws, especially if it is a food allergy. This usually causes dogs to lick their paws to get some relief from the itchiness. Allergies are treated by vets in a variety of ways including through medications, allergy shots, and keeping the allergen away from your pet when possible.

Your Dog’s Feet Hurt

Pain can also cause a dog to lick their feet excessively in an attempt to get some relief. This pain could be caused by a variety of things such as injuries like cuts and burns and medical conditions such as arthritis. If you suspect that your dog is licking their paws because they are in pain then you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Dog Skin Conditions

Skin conditions such as dermatitis can cause your dog’s skin to become itchy or painful, and if this dermatitis is affecting your dog’s paws then they are very likely to start licking them excessively. There are multiple different kinds of dermatitis in dogs, so you should get your dog’s condition diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

Dog Parasites

Parasites like mites, fleas, and ticks can cause your dog to feel itchy, and sometimes excessive itching as a result of an external parasite can cause pain. It can also put the dog at risk of developing a skin infection. Although external parasites are sometimes noticeable, they may not be in every case. As a result, you should always take your dog to the vet if they seem to have sudden skin irritation with no known cause. Luckily, external parasites are usually easily treatable.

Dog Sick Licking Paws

Dog Infections

Skin infections can also cause a dog to have itchy skin, and this can cause excessive paw licking if the infection goes over their feet. Most of the time the kinds of infections that cause the paws to become itchy in dogs include yeast and fungal infections. These kinds of infections should always be evaluated and treated by a vet.

Your Dog Has An Injury

Paw injuries usually cause pain, and this pain can cause your dog to lick their paws. If you notice that your dog is suddenly licking one paw in particular then this can be an indicator that that paw is injured, especially if they are also avoiding to put weight on that paw. You should always take your dog to the vet if you suspect that they are injured, even if the injury isn’t obviously noticeable.

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At Companion Animal Hospital of Wakefield, our veterinarians in Raleigh, NC, provide better care for your pets. As members of your family, cats and dogs deserve the highest level of medicine with the most compassion. That’s why we put a strong emphasis on personalized care for your pet and client education for you. We believe that when we take the time to help you thoroughly understand your pet’s health, we’re able to make the best decisions for their care together.