18 Ways to Stop your Dog’s Paw Licking for Good!

bull dog licking paws

Proven tips, ticks and strategies to bring relief to your canine companion!

Before we can tackle how to solve your dog’s paw licking, first we must understand WHY your dog is licking his/her paws. Here’s a handy checklist to help you narrow down the reasons behind your dog’s compulsive paw chewing and licking. If you can figure out the why, it’ll be a lot easier to come up with a solution.
1. How long has your dog been chewing her paws? Did the chewing start in puppyhood…or is this behavior a more recent development? 
If you noticed her chewing and licking on her paws as a puppy, it is quite likely that the problem has a genetic component, such as particularly sensitive skin, or that it can be attributed to a lack of nutrients, most likely Omega fatty acids. It may also be a predisposed condition according to her breed. English bulldogs, the Maltese, and the Chinese Shar-pei are just some of the breeds likely to have itchy, sensitive skin. If the chewing is a more recent problem, your pup may have developed a food allergy or atopy, an inflammatory reaction to airborne allergens such as plant pollens.
2. Is there a certain paw that she licks or chews more than the others…or does your pooch pay the same kind of attention to all 4 paws? 
If it’s just one paw, check out her nails, paw pads, and between her toes for dirt, embedded pebbles or grass, or even small injuries that may be causing her discomfort. Chewing on all four paws indicates some type of allergic reaction or compulsive-obsessive behavior.
3. Does she chew or lick at the same time every day…or is the behavior something that occurs throughout the day and night?
Continuing behavior is indicative of some kind of allergy. Chewing or licking that occurs around the same time daily shows that your pup may be stressed for some reason and this may be her only way of expressing her discomfort. Keep a daily log of the times of day and the duration of each chewing episode to help you look for patterns of behavior and devise a strategy for coping with it.
4. Have you picked up on any apparent circumstances that trigger the paw chewing? Does your dog chew her paws when she is alone, when she is crated, or when there are new people or other new animals in the house? 
If you've noticed the licking and chewing happening after she’s in a particular situation, she may be reacting to stress, boredom, or some other emotion that she can express no other way. The best way to handle this type of reactive behavior is to give her something else to think about…a treat or her favorite toy may distract her. You may even try exercise or play to get her mind off her feet and on to other pursuits.
5. Is your dog in any particular location before the chewing starts — outside in the grass, walking on ice or hot concrete? If so, she may be experiencing an allergic reaction to yard chemicals (weed killer, fertilizers, bug killers) or chemical de-icers. In hot weather, concrete and asphalt can cause burns and blisters on sensitive paw pads. Check her feet whenever she comes in from outside and, if necessary, use a baby wipe infused with aloe vera to clean her paws, between her toes, under her belly, and around her ears, nose, and muzzle.
6. Have you noticed any areas of alopecia (hair loss), redness or inflammation, any open oozing sores, or unexplained lumps and bumps on her paws or under her feet on her paw pads?
Small sores or abrasions are easily infected and can become big problems if not seen and treated by your veterinarian. Additionally, your dog may be licking and chewing because of discomfort from an injury and/or pain from arthritis in her joints. Have her checked by your vet who can prescribe antibiotics and pain meds if needed.
7. Have you noticed any thing unusual in the areas between her toes or paw pads and around her nail beds?
The sensitive skin between your dog’s paw pads and toes is often ripe for yeast and bacterial infections because of all the extra hair that keep those areas covered. Looking closely at the skin under the hair may reveal some sores or lumps and bumps that need veterinary treatment. Checking her nails may show that some are overly long and digging into her paw pads or even that she may have broken a nail that is creating some discomfort.
8. Is your dog on any kind of new medication or flea treatment? Have you changed her shampoo or moved her onto a different diet?
The paw licking may be a reaction to any new medications she may be taking for unrelated health issues — for example, corticosteroids often result in itchy skin. Particularly sensitive dogs may notice a change in shampoos or flea treatments with skin inflammation. Food allergies, particularly to certain proteins (beef and chicken) and grains (soy, wheat gluten, and corn), often show up as itchy skin, ear infections, and compulsive paw chewing. Consulting your veterinarian and switching to an organic grain-free food with unusual proteins (salmon, duck, kangaroo) may be your answer to your pup’s licking behaviors.
Hopefully this provides some insight as to what your dog’s trigger is for paw licking. Now you can determine the cause it’s a lot easier to come up with a solution.


18 Ways to stop your dogs paw licking for good.

If your dog refuses to stop licking his paws, you are not alone! This is a very common complaint from New Zealand dog owners, and if left untreated it can lead to serious skin problems due to the damage caused by self-trauma.

The first thing you’ll want to do is Identify and eliminate the primary cause where possible: This is often the most difficult task! Some causes may be immediately evident, such as a grass awn stuck between the toes. Others, however, may require the help of your veterinarian. Allergic conditions, for instance, may require an extensive diagnostic work.

Here are the 18 different tactics you can try to eliminate your dog’s paw licking, but don’t try them all at once or you won’t know which one worked. Use a systematic approach and keep good notes so you know what was effective and what didn’t.

Due to the large number of possible causes, it can be difficult to immediately recognize why your dog is licking his paws all the time; however, as a general guide:

If he is licking just one of his paws, or just both front paws, check for evidence of damaged skin or an embedded foreign body. If neither is present, the cause is likely psychological.

If he is licking all of his paws, likely there is some environmental reason for this.

1. PESKY FLEAS! If fleas are the issue You’ll need to begin a flea control regimen for your pooch, your house, and your yard.  Since these are a very common cause of paw licking, especially in the New Zealand summer, you may want to institute a flea control regime, even if you don’t see any actual fleas.

2. Stop the itchiness: If his paw licking is due to environmental causes like allergies, breaking the “itch-scratch” cycle can go a long way to resolving the problem. Although there are various prescription medications that your veterinarian can prescribe for this, you may wish to try a more natural, chemical-free approach. There are numerous products that can help. One excellent remedy is Itchin’ For Relief which has a unique blend of ingredients to soothe itchy skin, and reduce inflammation.

3. Boot Up Covering your dog’s paws with dog booties might be a solution to the problem, and at the very least it will give irritation or lesions a chance to heal which you get to the core problem. Using a shea butter Paw Rub underneath the booties can protect, heal, and soothe the heat of itching.

4. Is your dog’s discomfort all in his mind? Canine behavior modification therapy with a trained dog behaviorist may be an option if your pup’s licking problems are diagnosed to be psychological. While this treatment takes time, patience, and consistency to work, behavior therapy alone has been shown to be effective in some dogs. Additionally, your paw licking pooch may need more exercise, extra training, or another dog for companionship to keep her mind active. Your behaviorist may suggest adding anti-anxiety medications to the treatment plan however, an all-natural dog relaxer administered orally twice a day, can calm and relax your dog and keep her mind off the itching without any of the side effects of drugs. See below for more information on Psychological Scratching

5. Distract your dog Many dogs forget about their discomfort when they are playing, eating or chewing. Distraction is an excellent method. So give your dog a full schedule of bone chewing, game playing and toys to occupy their time.  We have had success putting all natural peanut butter into a hollow toy (like a Kong). And if you freeze it it lasts even longer!

6. Ditch the collar and get a harness instead. Dogs that pull on the leash could get nerve damage. The neck supplies nerves to the extremities and if impinged, cause discomfort or pain.  Also, don’t use a retractable leash, as the jerk back of the leash could cause tension.

7. Treat skin damage: Excessive licking can lead to skin damage. This in itself is enough of a problem, but additionally it can continue the cycle of itching and licking, so it’s important to do whatever possible to allow the skin to heal. Often this involves antibiotic therapy, although some minor cases may resolve themselves once the itchiness is treated.

8. Health check: If your dog’s constant licking persists, or if open wounds develop, your veterinarian should rule out underlying health problems, such as skin infections or entrapped foreign material.

9. Exercise your pet more- Dogs love to go out for walks. Exercise will get your pets mind off the itch. Your pet’s body will release endorphins when he/she exercise. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and act as analgesics which means they diminish the perception of pain.

10. Change your pet’s diet. Cut out the carbohydrates and try a grain free food based on a higher protein, simple carbohydrate diet.

11 Supplements most dogs don’t get enough fatty acids in their food and it can affect their mood, their blood chemistry and skin health.Try fish oil capsules – 1000 mg, once a day for an average sized dog.

FOOTBATHS ( click to see 7 great footbath recipes )

12. Baking SodaKeep a bucket of water and baking soda by the door. When your dog comes in from a walk, put his paws, one at a time, in the bucket and swish them around. This helps to remove allergens and helps to soothe irritated skin. One or two tablespoons per gallon should suffice.

13. Chamomile—Break out the tea bags! Chamomile is very soothing and Just make a cup of tea, let it cool and swish your dog’s feet in it.

14. Epsom salt will help to disinfect the itchy area. It contains sodium chloride, potassium and nitrates that can aid in restoring the natural balance of bacteria on a dog’s skin. Salt can also raise the pH level of your dog’s skin, which may help regulate normal bacterial ratios.

**Don’t rinse your dog’s feet after any of these footbaths.

15. Antihistamines don’t normally work in discouraging paw licking. However, they may help to calm or make your dog sleepy. This is useful if your dog has worked himself into a frenzy. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for the appropriate dose and frequency.

16. Oatmeal Shampoos are very useful if the problem is itch related. Make sure it is a colloidal oatmeal shampoo. Oat extracts won’t help.

17. Wipe away the itch- anti-bacterial wipes that contain colloidal silver may help keep down chances of infection — particularly during the wetter months when your dog’s feet get wet outside creating an environment where bacteria can thrive.

18. Antidepressants if you think your dog has an obsessive compulsive behavior your vet might prescribe an antidepressant. The most commons ones approved for dogs are clomipramine and Fluoxetine.


It can be difficult to manage these cases of apparent psychological scratching. If, after a thorough investigation, you feel that your dog’s itch is in fact psychological, you will need to relieve anything that’s bothering your dog while you redirect his self mutilating behavior. There are several things you can do to help him.

  1. Every time he licks his paws, interrupt him and divert his attention. Watch him constantly so as soon as he does lick, you can give him an alternative behavior, such as chewing a peanut butter filled Kong.
  2. Mental stimulation and some exercise has been shown to reduce the likelihood of these behaviors developing. Also, early obedience training will give him a good repertoire of acceptable behaviors, so he’s less likely to develop compulsive behaviors.
  3. If your vet feels your dog has an anxiety problem, she may prescribe a course of antianxiety treatment. This can make it easier for him to learn new behaviors without the added burden of feeling stressed. However, we recommend a natural solution first.  You can purchase an all-natural herbal product like  Sleepytime Tonic without a prescription and it works wonders. Helps to calm your dog so you can both get some rest.
  4. Treat any irritation in the skin that has developed from his constant scratching. Wash him in an oatmeal shampoo like Comfy Dog; its colloidal oatmeal will ease his itch and reduce inflammation. You can, if you wish, follow it up with Deep Conditioning Treatment so the skin doesn't become dry. If he has small patches where he constantly itches, a spray with will soothe his irritated skin.

Psychological scratching can be difficult to diagnose, and difficult to manage. It’s important that it’s diagnosed early; the sooner you start treatment, the better the chance for a happy outcome for you and your dog.