Health | 1 Min Read

Why do dogs lick their paws?

While you would be forgiven for thinking your clever pup is signalling for a side of guacamole to compliment their uniquely corn chip scented paws, it’s more likely your dog is engaging in personal grooming (#selfcare). But when does casual cleaning turn into a problem?

Paw science

Those distinctive and adorable paw pads are a remarkably complex system made up of fat tissue and elastic fibres. The thick skin found on the pads of their paws are largely shaped by their environment; if you’re a pavement pounder then your dog will probably have much tougher and rougher paws than that of their handbag canine cousins, which will be a bit softer.

So go on, take this opportunity to have a good look and feel of your dog’s tippy tappy’s so you know their baseline, aka what your dog’s paws look like on a normal day. 

Are your dog’s feet pink or brown stained? A dog’s saliva contains a chemical that can stain their coat. So if you notice a discoloured foot, it’s most likely because your dog has been licking it. 

Inspect thoroughly by looking at tops and bottoms of the paw, the toenails and nail beds, as well as the spaces in between the digits. 

Also ask yourself how often your dog engages in self care and when. Do they clean their paws before bed or regularly throughout the day?  

Paws for concern?

There’s a myriad of reasons your dog is licking their paws. Firstly, they might just be grooming themselves. But if it’s especially over-enthusiastic or frequent, it could be due to allergies, irritation or boredom. 

First consider the terrain your dog explores as it may be the reason for excessive licking or chewing. If they’re licking all paws in equal measure, it may suggest allergies. 

However, a focus on one paw may indicate an injury, foreign object or growth and your dog may even signal pain in withdrawing their paw from you. Broken toenails, Grass seeds, rocks, oyster shells and glass shards are common culprits for discomfort which warrant further assessment by your local vet. These can sometimes be hard to find, so see your vet if your dog shows any sign of pain even if you can’t find the cause. 

A simple remedy can be found in washing your dog’s paws after walks. Gently clean paws with Wipes to remove potential allergens and provide soothing TLC. 

Aside from the physical, frequent paw nibbling may also indicate behavioural issues such as boredom or anxiety. In which case, consider increasing their daily walks and provide mentally stimulating opportunities with training or games.