Why Your Dog is Licking Their Paws Red

Dog Lick Paws

Photo by Jessica Nunes


Why Your Dog is Licking Their Paws Red

Have you noticed your dog licking their paws? While some paw licking is normal, excessive licking may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention. To prevent it from becoming a problem and to treat any soreness or inflammation caused by the licking, it’s important to get to the root cause of this habit.

Why do dogs lick their paws?

Paw licking is a natural grooming behaviour for dogs, with them using their tongues to clean and dry their paws after walking or playing outside. However, when a dog starts obsessively licking their paws, it can be an indication of an underlying problem, such as:

· Allergies or irritants: Allergies to food, environmental problems, or flea bites can cause a

dog to engage in excessive paw-licking, as well as excessive scratching.

· Anxiety or boredom: Dogs develop self-soothing habits when they're not feeling their

best. Excessive licking, chewing, and biting can be a sign of anxiety or boredom.

· Pain and discomfort: An injury, splinter, underlying health condition such as arthritis or a

damaged pad on their paws can cause dogs to lick constantly to ease pain or

discomfort. Dogs can also get ticks between their toes, which you’ll have to remove

and treat carefully.

· Yeast or bacterial infections: Dogs can develop fungal or bacterial infections on their

paws, and licking can help to soothe the itching sensation. Skin infections can also

arise from a dog repeatedly licking at their paws, as this creates a warm, moist area

that can lead to fungal or bacterial overgrowth.

What does it mean when they're licking them raw?

When dogs lick their paws excessively, it can lead to red and raw spots, which can damage the skin and make it susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections. This is a clear sign that your pet is experiencing discomfort, pain, or itching in their paws. If you notice your dog's paws are red, sore, or bleeding, it's vital to take action to prevent further damage.

How to stop your dog from licking their paws raw

If your dog is licking their paws raw, there are several steps you can take to help them stop. The first step is to identify the underlying cause of their behaviour, at which point your vet may recommend lifestyle changes or medication to combat the habit.

Medication for allergies or stress

If your dog’s paw licking is due to an allergy, your vet may prescribe allergy medication, soothing washes and suggest allergy testing. If the cause is considered to be the result of stress, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication and suggest behavioural modification.

Reducing boredom

You can reduce excessive licking caused by boredom by providing your dog with toys, taking them for walks, or teaching them new tricks to keep them stimulated.

Physical barriers

Physical barriers like dog boots or applying a bitter-tasting spray on their paws can discourage your dog from licking. However, it's essential to ensure that the physical barrier doesn’t cause your dog discomfort or irritation.

How to treat their raw paws

If your dog's paws are already red, swollen, or inflamed, you’ll need to take appropriate measures to treat them.

Medication for paw infections

Your vet may prescribe antibiotic or antifungal medications e.g., tablets and/or ointments to treat bacterial or fungal infections. It's also important to keep the affected area clean and dry to promote healing.


Ointments such as paw balms or natural remedies like coconut oil or aloe vera can help to moisturise and protect the affected area, while alleviating any discomfort. It's crucial to consult your vet before applying any over-the-counter ointments to prevent further irritation or complications.

Excessive paw licking isn’t a behaviour you should ignore, as it can lead to soreness and infection. It's essential to consult with your vet to identify the underlying cause and take steps to alleviate the behaviour to avoid further damage and discomfort to your dog’s paws. For more advice on caring for your dog, check out our pet care blog.


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