Claw Licking – Causes and How to Prevent This Behavior

Many owners notice claw licking behavior in dogs quite common and wonder if they should be concerned.

Sometimes, you will notice your dog gently but persistently licking their paws on one or both paws. But other dogs will go as far as chewing on their toes, which can confuse for any pet owner.

What are the signs and symptoms of paw licking in dogs?

There is also an important thing to remember. Not because you don’t see your dog licking its paws or chewing its paws doesn’t mean they aren’t.

Your dog chews his paws when he is bored or anxious, and he may not want to do so when you are around.

Dogs who are in trouble because of chewing their feet may choose to leave the room to chew.

Therefore, it is extremely important that you watch for signs that your dog is chewing on their paws.

Especially if your dog is prone to anxiety, boredom, or has a history of palm chewing.

Look for the following:

  • Swollen paws.
  • Paws with red fur (the stain is caused by the red pigment, porphyrin, in dogs’ tears and saliva).
  • Smelly paws
  • Other signs of dermatitis.
  • Dog’s claws are unusually hot.
  • Open wounds.
  • Stains of lost hair, especially on the paws.
  • If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, take him to the vet as soon as possible.

To Read: Using Coconut Oil to Treat Skin Problems in Dogs

When do you worry about your dog licking its paws?

Almost all dogs will bite or lick their paws from time to time.

Sometimes itching appears in dogs for no apparent reason, so it would be unusual for a dog to never attempt to treat this itch.

So if the symptoms of paw licking in dogs appeared once or twice and then disappeared, you may not be concerned. Or if you can treat the cause right away and stop chewing, there is nothing to worry about.

If your dog has not stopped chewing their paws or appears to have an infection, you may have a problem.

The same is true if they cause sores from biting and chewing. Either way, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

It is important to do this because things can get more complicated, so regardless of the principal reason for your dog chewing on his paws, a secondary infection from fungi or bacteria can make the problem worse.

What are the causes of claw-licking behavior in dogs?

What are the causes of claw-licking behavior in dogs?

A dog licking its paws is a behavior that occurs for a variety of reasons:

1- Allergy:

When dogs’ paw-licking behavior gets out of control, it is often the result of an allergy to foods or environmental triggers, including mold and pollen.

Dogs may also develop a skin irritation called tactile dermatitis when exposed to substances such as pesticides or soaps.

2- Boredom or anxiety:

Just as anxious people bite their nails or spin their hair, dogs can have physical responses to the psychological disorder, too.

In fact, some dogs develop a condition that resembles human obsessive-compulsive disorder.

They can manifest in dog scratching, licking, or chewing behaviors that can cause severe damage.

4- Dry skin:

A variety of factors, including winter weather and a lack of fatty acids, can cause dry skin in dogs. Your pet may respond to discomfort by scratching the skin or fur or developing claw-licking behavior in dogs.

5- Hormonal imbalances:

If a dog’s body does not make enough thyroid hormone or secrets too much cortisol, superficial skin infections may occur.

You may notice bald spots and the dog may itch or lick the dog’s paws as if it is disturbed by an allergy.

6- Pain:

When trying to determine why your dog is licking his paws or chewing excessively, be sure to think about the possibility of making him physically uncomfortable.

For example, if you notice that your dog is biting his paw frequently, there may be a thorn or sharp stone stuck to his footbed.

Chewing or claw-licking in compulsive dogs can also be a response to bone problems, including arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Dog saliva is antibacterial. This is because it contains some anti-bacterial chemicals. So when dogs lick wounds, it’s to do an anti-bacterial cleanse to promote healing of superficial wounds.

7- Parasites:

Among the most common causes of compulsive claw-licking, chewing, or scratching behavior in dogs are fleas, ticks, and mites.

Although ticks are often visible to the naked eye, fleas are often invisible until there is a major infestation. So don’t assume your dog doesn’t have parasites just because you can’t see them.

To Read: Signs of Jealousy in Dogs And How to Deal With it

What is the treatment for the behavior of licking its paws?

What is the treatment for the behavior of licking its paws?

Since there are so many causes of paw licking behavior in dogs, be sure to see your vet as soon as you notice a problem.

It will help your veterinarian find the cause of the behavior and determine the best treatment plan.

Depending on the cause of your dog’s compulsive behavior, this may include:

1- Elimination of parasites:

There are a variety of flea and tick products your vet can recommend.

If your dog’s biting or dog licking issues of its paws are caused by fleas, be sure to wash your dog’s bedding and clean the carpets and upholstery off the furniture regularly to reduce the possibility of re-infestation.

You also need to treat any other pets at home.

2- Changing foods:

If a food allergy is causing the paw-licking behavior in dogs, then eliminating potential trigger foods (such as beef or wheat) can make a big difference. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet if this is the case.

Adding a fatty acid supplement to your pet’s regular food can help treat dry skin issues and keep your dog’s coat healthy.

3- Use of the drug:

Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to treat underlying problems that contribute to your dog’s persistent itching.

In addition, your veterinarian may recommend the use of topical or systemic antibiotics, steroids, or anti-itch products to treat skin infections.

4- Preventing behavior:

Since compulsive behaviors can cause serious harm and affect your dog’s quality of life, it is important that you do your best to prevent your dog from chewing, licking, or scratching too much.

Some ideas include using bitter sprays to discourage your licking, having your dog wear a special collar to prevent access to the licking areas, or keeping your dog close to you when you are home.

5- Treating anxiety or boredom:

In some cases, compulsive biting, chewing, or dog licking of its paws develops in response to insufficient fear, pressure, or stimulation.

To reduce this possibility, make sure your dog is receiving enough exercise, attention, and love.

It may also be helpful to train your dog to chew toys or bones to relieve stress as an alternative to inappropriate chewing or behaviors.

To Read: The Appropriate Amount of Water For Your Dog


Claw licking in dogs was not as simple as we initially thought. There are actually several reasons your dog may lick their paws.

While it is usual for dogs to lick their mouths, it can also show an underlying problem.

Paw licking can be a sign of pain sensitivity, boredom, anxiety, dry skin, hormonal imbalance, or fleas or ticks.

If you are concerned about an underlying health problem, seek the advice of your veterinarian.

A behavior specialist can help you understand if your dog is suffering from anxiety.

If you are concerned that your loyal friend might just be bored, try to include some of our top tips and let us know how to confront you.

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