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Why Dogs Lick & Bite Paws: Reasons & How to Help (2023)

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why do dogs lick and bite their pawsYou’re watching Fido gnaw on his paws again and wondering why. As concerning as constant paw licking and chewing is, rest assured this behavior likely stems from a manageable cause.

Let’s walk through common culprits like allergies, anxiety, and dermatitis so you can get Fido relief.

An escalation from occasional licking to relentless chewing indicates discomfort.

As his trusted advocate, stay vigilant for changes and clues signaling distress. You know your dog best. Trust your instincts if you suspect something is wrong, and don’t delay contacting your vet.

With so many potential factors, your vet can help pinpoint the source and recommend suitable treatment to stop the chewing and get Fido’s paws back in healthy shape.

Key Takeaways

  • Paw chewing can be caused by allergies, parasites, skin conditions, injuries, or arthritis.
  • Signs of allergy issues include red, irritated areas between toes and pads, recurrent hot spots on paws, itching, inflammation, and possible secondary infections.
  • Signs of skin problems include red, inflamed skin, oozing sores or lesions, irritation, itchiness, and hair loss.
  • Signs of injuries include limping, cuts, swelling, torn nails, cracked pads, bruising, blisters, cysts, and the risk of infection.
  • Signs of arthritis include stiffness, soreness, joint pain, licking specific joints for relief, difficulty with stairs or jumping, and a change in activity levels.
  • It is important to see a vet if there is a significant change in licking behavior, visible skin irritation or wounds, limping or holding up the paw, recurring hot spots on the paws, or signs of compulsive licking.
  • To stop licking and chewing, it is necessary to identify and treat the root cause, use antibiotics or antifungals if needed, apply topical creams for itching, consider anti-anxiety medication, and use deterrent sprays on the paws.
  • Providing relief at home can involve bathing paws in apple cider vinegar, massaging paws with coconut oil, keeping paws clean and dry, blocking access to paws with a cone, and increasing playtime and affection.
  • Tracking licking behavior includes noting timing, location, and duration, taking photos of irritated areas, logging changes in diet or environment, identifying patterns signaling issues, and differentiating normal grooming.
  • Preventive paw care includes trimming nails and fur between pads, rinsing off dust and debris after walks, applying paw balms and waxes, massaging paws to increase circulation, and using dog shoes on hot or rough surfaces.

Reasons for Paw Licking and Biting

Reasons for Paw Licking and Biting
Paw licking and biting in dogs can have many underlying causes, ranging from food allergies and parasites like fleas to skin conditions like dermatitis or injuries between toes that cause irritation. Excessive licking and biting at their paws can also signal emerging health or behavioral issues that warrant closer inspection by an owner.

Careful observation of new behaviors paired with prompt veterinary care provides the key to getting to the root of paw chewing and stopping associated discomfort in our canine companions.

Food Allergies

You’ll want to check if some new snacks are triggering those itchy paws. Some dogs get allergies to foods like chicken or grains. Their paw pads and skin between the toes can get red and irritated from excessive licking, trying to relieve the itch.

Switch to a limited ingredient diet without the suspect foods. If symptoms improve, you’ve found the culprit.


Your pet’s paws tingle from fleas and mites burrowing under the skin. They can cause:

  1. Intense itching and irritation
  2. Visible skin lesions and scabs
  3. Secondary infections that worsen symptoms

Treat the parasitic invaders to soothe those swollen paws. Have your vet check for fleas, mites, bee stings, and other causes of paw inflammation. Prompt treatment prevents worsening skin conditions and discomfort from excessive licking and chewing.


Hot spots from dermatitis make him scratch nonstop. Dermatitis causes inflamed, irritated skin with possible oozing sores. Sometimes it’s due to allergic reactions to pollen or foods. Other times it’s caused by mites, yeast, or bacteria invading vulnerable skin.

See the vet to diagnose the dermatitis and protect your canine’s sensitive skin. Relieve incessant itching and chewing with medication, allergy control, and gentle bathing.


Sore paws make them chew; ease the ache before they do harm.

  1. Torn nails, cut pads bring pain with each step.
  2. Broken skin draws bacteria; infection risk grows.
  3. Licking soothes temporarily but compounds damage long-term.

Treat injuries to stop incessant chewing. Cleanse carefully, bandage, and medicate wounds. Allow healing before walks resume. Intervene promptly lest chewing worsen matters.

Health or Behavioral Issues

This is compulsive when Fluffy gnaws nonstop; see the vet right away. Self-grooming suits most dogs fine, yet excessive licking signals distress. Allergies, fleas, or hidden hurts could drive persistent paw chewing. Mark any behavioral changes that disrupt normal routines.

Let the vet detect sources of discomfort and prescribe suitable relief. Don’t delay – prolonged paw biting risks real damage.

Assessing Your Dog’s Condition

Assessing Your Dog
If you’ve noticed your dog licking or biting at their paws, it could be a sign of something more serious. Allergies, blisters, cysts, insect bites, and dandruff can all cause irritation that leads to excessive paw chewing.


Twas the season for your pup’s incessant paw gnawing when allergies struck. Unrelenting itching of inflamed skin and paws manifests from hypersensitivity to ingredients in their food or environmental allergens.

An exclusion diet trial removes suspect culprits to cure food allergies, while medications provide relief for dogs with chronic seasonal allergies. Veterinary dermatologists are key to curbing severe, recurrent allergic reactions in affected dogs.


You’re worrying about those painful blisters your pup has been nursing on their poor paws. Blisters form when intense licking irritates vulnerable skin already itching from allergies or dermatitis. See the vet right quick if blisters ooze or swell since they risk infection. Treat sore blisters by keeping paws clean and dry while meds reduce inflammation.


Got painful cysts on your pup’s paws from all that licking? See the vet pronto before they get inflamed and infected. Repeated licking and chewing of irritated skin prone to allergies or dermatitis causes fluid-filled cysts on paws.

Though benign, these cysts often swell, rupture, and risk dangerous infection without swift vet care.

Insect Bites

Better scruff, sniff sharp for them zoomies bug bites, bud! Those dang squeakin’ critters sting worse than a prickly cactus on bare pup paws. When irksome insects land biting blows on sensitive doggy toes, the swelling and itching sparks an urgent licking frenzy.

Stay vigilant for chewing and inflammation signaling your pooch’s stung skin needs swift care to prevent infected hot spots.


Dry, flaky skin begs for scratching, but resist the urge to chew on those itchy paws. Excessive licking and chewing signal dandruff that irritates your pup’s paws. Before providing relief through soothing baths and ointments, a vet visit can identify any underlying food allergies that trigger flaky, itchy skin needing care.


Painful hotspots have your pup gnawing in agony. Affectionately licking irritated, infected skin leads to a vicious cycle. Soothe inflamed lesions between paw pads with gentle cleansing and anti-itch sprays.

Though difficult, prevent pups from nibbling hotspots while healing to avoid worsening the weeping wounds. Stay attentive, as hotspots rapidly spread, requiring prompt veterinary intervention.

How to Stop Dogs From Licking and Chewing Their Paws

How to Stop Dogs From Licking and Chewing Their Paws
Battling your dog’s incessant paw licking and chewing requires a multi-pronged approach. You’ll need to try medication to relieve allergies or anxiety, apple cider vinegar to deter chewing, behavior training, and trigger tracking to identify causes, and diligent paw hygiene upkeep to prevent worsening; working closely with your vet provides the best chance of resolving this frustrating issue for good.


If your pup is still chewing their paws, your vet may prescribe medications to help relieve the symptoms. Antibiotics and antifungals treat underlying infections causing irritation and discomfort. Steroid shampoos and sprays provide topical relief for inflamed, itchy skin. Antihistamines block allergic reactions to environmental triggers.

However, identifying and avoiding allergy triggers is key to resolving the root cause long-term. Your veterinarian can recommend the right treatment plan to stop your dog’s paw chewing for good.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Soak your pup’s paws in an apple cider vinegar solution to help treat and prevent irritated skin from excessive licking. Research shows that over 70% of dogs experience paw licking due to allergies or infections at some point.

  1. Clean your dog’s paws with a gentle shampoo.
  2. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water.
  3. Soak your dog’s paws in the solution for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar acts as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent. It helps restore your dog’s skin pH, combat infections, and soothe inflammation that triggers obsessive paw licking.

Be sure to dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it to your dog’s sensitive paws.

Behavior Training and Tracking

You’re wise to track and log your dog’s paw licking behavior so we can nip this in the bud. Keeping detailed records helps identify triggers like seasonal allergies or anxiety. Note the timing, frequency, and duration of licking episodes. Take photos of irritated areas.

Is licking worse at certain times of day or year? Does it follow stressful events? Pinpointing probable causes like dermatitis, food allergies, or behavioral issues allows tailored treatment. With diligent tracking, we gain insight to curb obsessive licking before it worsens.

Hygiene Upkeep

Keep those piggies preened, pal. Regular paw hygiene keeps your pup’s pads primed. Trim overgrown nails regularly to prevent cracks and discomfort. Wash dusty paws after walks with gentle cleansers to remove irritants before they inflame tender skin.

Apply soothing balms to keep your canine’s skin conditioned and calluses controlled. Unprotected paws attract debris and germs, so help your pal fend off paw chewing triggers before they become persistent paw problems.

Understanding Why Dogs Chew Their Paws

Understanding Why Dogs Chew Their Paws
Desperate times call for desperate measures when your pooch’s persistent paw chewing points to perplexing problems. Uncovering the root cause requires some detective work, but arming yourself with insight into common triggers will give you a head start.

  • Irritation – Allergies, skin conditions, injuries, and infections cause inflammation and itchiness that dogs try to relieve through licking and biting.
  • Anxiety – Stress, boredom, loneliness, and compulsive disorders can manifest in repetitive paw chewing.
  • Joint Pain – Discomfort from arthritis may lead to chomping at sore paws for relief.
  • Pest Infestation – Fleas, mites, and ticks burrow into paws causing severe itchiness.
  • Attention Needs – Some dogs learn that paw chewing brings owner interaction. Ensure your dog feels mentally stimulated.

While paw chewing stems from physical or psychological unease, ongoing damage can lead to infections, wounds, and worsening anxiety. Stopping the cycle quickly is key, so track patterns diligently, check for medical issues, and provide your pup plenty of exercise and affection.

With some tenacious yet tender loving care, you can get to the bottom of what’s ailing your beloved companion.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

When to Seek Veterinary Care
Don’t dally when discomfort or damage is evident – schedule a vet visit asap to identify and treat the underlying cause of incessant paw chewing.

Symptoms Possible Cause Next Steps
Red, inflamed areas between toes or pads Allergies, dermatitis, infections See vet for diagnosis, medications
Recurrent hot spots on paws Chronic allergies or dermatitis Consult veterinary dermatologist for allergy testing, treatment plan
Limping, licking specific paw Sprains, fractures, arthritis Rest injured paw, check for fractures, get medications for joint pain
Blisters, scrapes, torn claws Injuries from rough play, walks Clean wounds, bandage paw, use cone to prevent chewing

While you investigate and address the underlying cause through necessary veterinary treatment, try to keep your dog’s paws clean and protected. Block access to prevent chewing with a cone or distraction tools. Offer extra affection and mental stimulation.

With diligent care and attention, you can relieve your pup’s paw woes and restore their comfort.

Wrapping Up

Wrapping Up
After reviewing potential causes and solutions for excessive paw chewing, the takeaway is to stay vigilant about your dog’s paw health. Their paws and skin provide visual clues for when veterinary care is needed. Don’t ignore concerning symptoms – schedule an appointment to identify and treat the underlying issue.

To summarize key points:

  1. Redness, inflammation, or swelling between toes or pads could indicate allergies, infections, or dermatitis – see your vet.
  2. Recurrent hot spots on paws may signal chronic allergies – consult a veterinary dermatologist.
  3. Limping or licking one paw could mean a sprain, fracture, or arthritis – rest the paw and get medications.
  4. Blisters, scrapes, or torn claws may be from rough play or walks – clean wounds, bandage paw, use an e-collar.

While addressing the root cause, keep your dog’s paws clean and protected. Block access to prevent chewing. Offer affection and mental stimulation. Stay vigilant and act quickly at the first signs of irritation or injury to your canine’s sensitive paws and skin.

With diligent care and veterinary treatment, you can restore their comfort and paw health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I tell if my dog’s paw chewing is just a temporary behavior or part of a chronic medical issue?

If your dog starts licking or chewing paws constantly, see the vet. Sudden behavior changes may signal underlying conditions needing care. But brief paw chewing after walks could just be normal cleaning. Observe patterns over time before assuming chronic issues.

Are there any home remedies or over-the-counter products I can try before visiting the vet for paw chewing?

Gently cleaning irritated paws with a warm cloth can provide some relief before seeing the vet, but resist using human antihistamines, which may harm Fido.

What types of activities and mental stimulation can I provide my dog to help reduce stress and boredom that may lead to excessive paw licking?

Try redirecting with chew toys, food puzzles, leash walks, and training sessions to provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom underlying stress chewing.

If my dog is licking due to allergies, what steps can I take to reduce allergens in my home and yard?

Use HEPA air filters, vacuum frequently with a sealed system, bathe your dog weekly, wash bedding on hot, avoid letting your dog on furniture, keep grass mowed, and use flea/tick preventatives.

Are there any dietary changes or supplements I can try to ease discomfort from conditions like arthritis that may be causing my dog to lick their paws?

Talk to your vet about joint supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s, or turmeric – they can help reduce inflammation. Adjust their diet to a formula for mobility support may also help. Provide orthopedic beds, ramps, and massages to improve their comfort too.


You’ve been given a paw-ful to chew on, but help is on the way. Like a pack leader guiding their pup, stay attentive to your dog’s needs. Track their symptoms, and don’t be afraid to seek professional guidance. With patience and care, you can get to the root of the issue.

Relief for your pup’s paws is within reach – you just have to dig a little deeper to find the source.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.