• Dog paw icon depicting that Lavengel is effective in soothing, treating, and healing dog paw irritations

Dog Paw Licking: Top Causes + Common Irritations

Remember, we always recommend consulting with your vet for any of your dog's health concerns.

Drawing of waffle cone with lavender ice cream and dog paw on top

Paws and Consider

There are a wide variety of reasons as to why dogs treat their feet like an ice cream cone. Many times they are benign. However, a serious paw problem often begins as a minor itch that becomes aggravated as they lick and chew.

A good way to tell that there may be an underlying issue is if the licking and chewing are excessive. If they won't leave it alone, you should check it out. Here are several common reasons for why this happens in the first place:

Small blonde dog with blue bandanna lies on turquoise couch licking front paw

Self Grooming

Believe it or not, dogs like for their feet to feel "clean," and, much like cats, they will lick their paws to clean away dirt and debris. They will generally do this when they feel safe and relaxed. For many dogs, this is a nighttime ritual as they lay down for bed.

Red paw with fur loss of Australian Shepherd dog suffering from skin allergies

Skin Allergies

The most common reason for a dog's excessive paw licking and chewing is allergies - namely seasonal, environmental, and food allergies. This is especially seen during spring and autumn when the air is full of pollen, dust, and other "stuff."

Keep an eye out for general redness or inflammation of the paw, especially between toes and pads. An inflamed underbelly and watery eyes are other signs of seasonal allergies.

As they lick and chew their feet, you may notice some patchy hair loss, or even sores, which can become infected. Allergy irritations are often the instigator for other worse skin issues to develop, and many of our customers find that Lavengel keeps that from happening.

Allergies can be tricky to pinpoint, and a combination of allergens may be possible, depending on your dog's sensitivities. Finding the specific cause - especially with food allergies - may require an allergy test or a lot of "trial and error."

Rottweiler mix puppy lies on tile floor licking foreleg and looking at camera

Anxiety + Self Soothing

Similar to humans biting fingernails, licking can be a reaction to stress and a way that dogs soothe themselves physically and mentally. Dogs that are learning to overcome separation anxiety or a new situation at home may be seen going at their paws more often.

Good ways to mitigate this stress are regular exercise, mentally stimulating toys, or even relaxing medications (as recommended by their vet).

Drawing of magnifying glass observing cuts and debris between dog paw pads

Hidden Cuts, Scrapes, or Debris

The paws are where the majority of canine wounds happen, and they are sometimes hard to see. It's also very easy for debris to get lodged between toes and pads.

If your dog is licking one paw excessively, examine it. There may be a hidden cut, scrape, broken nail, splinter, piece of bark, or pebble in there that they're trying to get at.

If you find a cut or scrape, you can clean it with soap and water or paw wipes, then apply some Lavengel® to help relieve the irritation and kickstart the healing process.

Hands spreading paw pads of a black dog revealing pink irritated skin and infection

Bacterial or Yeast Infection

As skin becomes disrupted, skin microbes can infiltrate and create an infection (check out our Biofilms post to learn more about microbes and their environment).

This infection can be bacterial (pyoderma) or fungal (Malassezia yeast) in nature, causing a terrible itch. Without opposable thumbs, licking and chewing become a dog's sole source of relief. The more they chew the area and the more an infection sets in, the worse that itch becomes.

Quick intervention with a topical anti-inflammatory/anti-microbial product and/or antibiotics is crucial. Otherwise, the infection will become more difficult to eradicate with time.

This is an area where Lavengel® truly shines. Not only can your dog's feet feel better faster, but you may potentially avoid a trip to the vet's office.

Illustration of a dog paw with dry, cracked paw pads, with miniature desert complete with cactus drawn on metacarpal pad

Dry, Cracked Paw Pads

Changes in seasons or a dog's environment can cause their paw pads to get dry and form cracks. This can be more prevalent during winter months or in regions with an arid climate.

Environmental factors, such as salt from the beach, or the salt and chemicals used to clear snowy pavement during winter, can significantly dry out pads, too. Severe dryness can lead to cracks in their paw pads. These can be uncomfortable and allow dirt and microbes to penetrate the pad's tissue, raising the risk of infection.

This can be avoided or mended with the right moisturizing ointment (incoming plug). Lavengel's superior moisturizing qualities and absorption not only hydrate dry paw pads, but also help repair them by provide the necessary micronutrients for producing keratin - the protein that pads are made of.

Labrador paw affected by sarcoptic mange mite infestation

Mange, Mites + Parasites

Paws are easily accessible to fleas, ticks, and other parasites, and they can hide between toes and pads. Be sure to check in those crevices when giving your barker a bath. Keeping them on a regular flea and tick medication is never a bad idea either.

Mange is a skin disease caused by microscopic parasites known as mites. There are two different kinds, demodectic (aka "demodex" or "red mange") and sarcoptic (scabies), that are caused by the two types of mites that give them their name.

We go into greater detail on this disease in our Mange section. Each type of mange requires different forms of treatment, but both are marked by patches of thinning or missing fur. Both forms can also bring about intense itching - especially sarcoptic mange.

Drawing of a dog licking foot that is in pain from arthritis

Arthritis or Joint Pain

Licking is one of the few ways that dogs really have to make something feel better - even if it seems illogical to us. If an external paw irritation or problem cannot be determined, the issue may be internal.

With older dogs, arthritis and joint pain may be affecting their legs and feet. On the other hand (or paw), young, fast-growing puppies may lick from "growing pain" discomfort as their joints begin to close and they adapt to the increase in weight.

Red interdigital cyst between middle toes of dog paw

Interdigital Cysts and Sores

Interdigital cysts (aka follicular cysts or furuncles) are red bumps or nodules between a dog's toes that begin as inflamed hair follicles - typically brought on by allergies and/or excess friction. These follicles disrupt surrounding tissue, creating further inflammation and form a swollen cyst that is irritating and itchy.

As a dog licks and chews the cyst, they further damage the hair follicles and skin. This can develop into an open sore and become infected.

Lavengel® can greatly help with these cysts and sores. That said, if the original inflammation is due to allergies, other anti-inflammatory allergy medications - as prescribed by your vet - may be necessary.

Photo by Jennifer Bailey, DVM, via the Whole Dog Journal.

Paw Healing Success Stories

You can see the full write-up of these and other testimonials on our Stories page.

Also, to read more on canine paw issues and why dogs lick their paws, see our post Top 5 Reasons Dogs Lick Their Feet, as well as others in our Canine Care blog.

  • Before and after images of Lavengel healing redness and infection between toes of English Bulldog
  • Left: Before image of cuts on German Shepherd paw under pad and dew claw; Right: After image of cut healing progress with Lavengel after 24 hours