Why Does My Dog Keep Licking His Foot?

Updated March 23, 2017

There are a variety of reasons dog lick their paws. The dog could have a wound or the reason could be as complex as an allergic reaction. Regardless of the cause, excessive licking is a habit that needs to be stopped before a pet develops painful sores and infection on their paws. Licking can lead to a condition known as "lick granuloma," a raw ulcer-like lesion on a dog's paw, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center in Los Angeles. Fortunately, the condition can be treated with medication. But if the root cause is not resolved, the lesions will return.


There are a variety of reasons a dog will lick his paws, according to If you notice your pet is licking his feet, the reason could be stress, fleas, mites or a serious cut or wound that is bothering him. The two most common reasons dogs lick their paws is either boredom or allergies, such as grass, ragweed or dust, according to Dr. Jim Berg of the Animal Vet Center in Bear, Delaware.

Determining the cause

If the dog is licking her paw due to an injury, the wound will usually be visible. If the cause is psychological, dogs will only lick one paw or just their front paws, according to If your dog licks all four paws, the reason is probably an allergic reaction to something in the environment. The only way a dog owner can really determine the cause of licking is by consulting with a veterinarian, according to Dr. Berg.


Dog food is the first thing to examine for potential allergens if you suspect your dogs is having a allergic reaction. Inflammation can occur in the gastrointestinal tract when too many processed food proteins, fillers and colourings are found in a dog's diet, according to the veterinarians at the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Reactions occur on the dog's skin if the allergy is environmental. Pesticides, cleaning products, grass and pollen are known allergic triggers. Anxiety can prompt nervous licking. Leaving your dog alone for long periods of time or introducing something new to your dog's environment can cause anxiety.


As a dog's paws become sore from persistent licking, they can easily become infected and extremely painful. This can lead to even more aggressive licking and chewing. If your dog has licked or chewed his paws so badly that the fur is gone in spots or if you see red or bloody skin, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. This is a symptom of lick granuloma, a raw ulcer-like lesion that will only worsen with persistent licking, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.


Consulting a veterinarian is the first step in treatment and diagnosing the cause of licking. A veterinarian can prescribe a spray or ointment to help the affected paws heal quickly. If the paw has become infected, an antibiotic and a steroid to control inflammation will be prescribed, according to If licking persists, however, consider a muzzle, a cone or covering the paws with bootees or socks until the habit breaks and the paws heal. Be aware that determined dogs will usually find a way around such obstacles and continue to lick and chew.

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About the Author

Angela Campbell began writing professionally in 1997 for Easley Publications in Easley, SC, and later for Gannett newspaper properties. A graduate of the University of South Carolina's mass communications and journalism program, she has won numerous South Carolina State Press Association awards for spot news reporting, business reporting, feature writing, photography and page design.