How To Stop Dog From Licking Paws: Home Remedy

Slurp! Slurp! Slurp! Most dogs lick their paws on occasion, but when it becomes a chronic problem it can really grate on your nerves, as well as causing some health issues for your dog in the long run.

The problem is - How do you get them to stop? There are a number of home remedies you can try before you need to bust out the shame-cone.

A dog's paws with pink pads and black nails.

Why Is My Dog Licking Their Paws?

As mentioned already, paw licking is a natural behavior to some extent. Dogs don't have hands to explore or remove irritations so they use their mouths. However, excessive paw licking can be dangerous.

Pain and Discomfort

A dog may resort to paw licking if they are in pain or discomfort. This can come from a number of factors, such as arthritis, nail and paw injuries, genetic hyperkeratosis, or burn wounds. Their paws can also become scratched or burned from walking on hot surfaces or sharp ice.

Your dog’s paw licking could also be the result of an infection, such as a bacterial infection in the wound or a yeast infection on the paw pad.

Occasionally, dry, itchy skin may be a result of a nutritional deficiency. This is common for dogs who only eat cheap, dry food. It is normally a result of a lack of protein, fat, or zinc in their diet.[1]

Environmental Factors

Your dog’s paws are one of the few bits of them that are completely exposed, making them vulnerable to environmental conditions.

Harsh chemicals from cleaning products, hot dry air from heating units, antifreeze, and salt on sidewalks, as well as hot surfaces, may dry, crack, and damage your dog’s paws, resulting in excessive paw licking to soothe the itch. 

A dog wearing Sparkpaws Dog Knit Sweater


Itchy paws, and therefore excessive paw licking, may sometimes be the result of an allergy. This can be a contact allergy, such as the paw pads coming into contact with grass or dust mites, but could also be the result of a food allergy.

Common food allergies are normally due to a specific protein, such as beef, eggs, dairy, soy, fish, and so on. They can also be from things such as wheat or other grains, which are often used to bulk up dog food.

Certain cleaning chemicals and shampoos may also affect a dog with very sensitive skin, or they may develop an allergy towards them. Shampoos that aren’t rinsed properly can also cause dry skin and flaking.

Fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other pests can also cause discomfort by biting the dog’s paws directly, or by causing an allergic reaction through their saliva.

Boredom and Stress

Much like a human biting their fingernails, a dog’s constant paw licking may be a nervous habit.

If a dog has gone through a recent stressful event, such as a move or a new dog, they may be very stressed out and resort to paw licking to soothe themselves. Other times, the habit may come from past trauma or abuse. It can also happen because of separation anxiety.

Other times a dog’s paw licking can be a sign of boredom. The repetitive action might help alleviate some of the boredom and frustration that they are feeling.

Tackling the Problem

If excessive licking is more than an occasional issue, there are four ways you can try and slow down or eliminate the problem.

Get To The Root of The Problem

The first thing you are going to want to do is get your dog’s paws seen by a vet. They can eliminate the possibility of it being a pain management strategy or an underlying health condition. They may also be able to provide medicine for certain conditions like hyper-keratosis.

A vet may also do an allergy test to rule out allergies as being the culprit for your dog's licking problems.

If you suspect boredom or stress to be the culprit, you can try to help your dog relax by trying some new toys, crate training, or providing them with some more exercise, stimulation, and attention. The majority of nervousness and boredom comes from a lack of exercise, so try walking more or finding some alternative exercise. 

A dog and the owner wearing matching Sparkpaws Dog Hoodie

Natural Relief

Even if you have found the root cause of why your dogs lick their paws, it may take some time to see results. In the meantime, you can try to stop your dog licking by tackling the itching directly.


While technically a ‘root cause’ you can try to improve the quality of your dog’s paws by improving their diet. 

Since zinc deficiency and omega-oil deficiency are often the cause of dry, itchy skin and cracked paws, you can try switching to homemade dog food for a while. Try to stick to food that has a lot of beef, lamb, spinach, and whole grains for more zinc. Avoiding processed grains that can be a source of allergy for many dogs.

You can also include more protein and vegetable oils along with their kibble, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, or oily protein such as fish or egg, to give them an omega-oil boost. This will hydrate the dry skin and hopefully cut down on the excessive licking.

An Oatmeal bath or Compress

Dogs lick their paws often, especially if something is stuck on it. This is why finding a non-toxic, anti-itch solution for dry skin is very important. 

Oatmeal is a good, non-toxic anti-inflammatory that has been proven to work on both humans and dogs.[2] It exfoliates dead tissue, soothes irritation, and helps to create a moisture barrier over the dog’s skin.

You can make an oatmeal bath at home by throwing ½ a cup of oats (unflavored instant oats or slow-cooking oats are fine) into a food processor and blitzing it to make a powder. This powder can then be mixed into a lukewarm bath. The water should appear slightly milky.

You can then bathe the dog as you normally would (without the shampoo, of course)

A dog's paws resting on grass

You can also combine the powder with a little water to form a paste that you can slather on the paw pads or dry skin. You can leave the paste on for 15-20 minutes before gently rinsing off. It's recommended to put a bandage or a sock over the oatmeal paste, but there should be no problem with your dog licking some of the oatmeal off.

A Soothing Balm

Most balms have the same ingredients, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to scrounge them up to rub on some chapped paw pads.

For a simple paw-balm recipe, you will need 

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup shea butter
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup beeswax or soy wax pellets

It is as simple as combining all of these ingredients into a pot on low heat until they melt and combine together. Afterward, the mixture should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry area.

NOTE: It can be tempting to put essential oils into the balm, but most dogs will not appreciate the strong smell. Many of them can also be harmful if the dogs lick any of the mixture.


A simple short-term solution is to prevent your dog’s paw pads from being damaged or to prevent the paw licking in the first place. Physically stopping the paw licking for a while might throw a dog out of their nervous habit too.

Something like a cone is uncomfortable for the dog to wear long term, and may not be able to stop the paw licking.

Something like bandages, socks, or dog shoes will prevent your dog from being able to get to their paws. It can prevent any balms or medicine from being wiped off and will help keep their paws protected.

Dogs lick damaged paws, so using dog shoes on your walks will help keep their paws from becoming damaged by hot or cold temperatures, sharp stones, pests, and other hazards. Rough surfaces can also cause rough and ashy paws. 

A dog wearing Sparkpaws Pawtector dog shoes

If you are very concerned that the constant paw licking is a nervous habit, maybe invest in a dog trainer who may be able to help your dog feel more secure in their place in the house. The training will help stimulate the dog and give them a sense of security.


Dogs lick their paws for a variety of reasons, including boredom, stress, pain, itching, allergies, damage repair, and more. When the dog licks its paws it can dry them out and create more damage.

The best solution is to get to the root of the problem. For example - changing their diet if the licking is from an allergy, providing more exercise for boredom, or giving them shoes to cut down on injuries and wear-and-tear.

You can help them heal from the damage by soothing their wounds and dryness with an oatmeal paste or bath, or by smearing the paw pads with a paw balm. Making these concoctions yourself allows you to make sure they are non-toxic, and that you’re not getting scammed by a snake oil salesman.

You can also try to prevent the paws from getting damaged or injured in the first place by providing them with a well-fitting pair of dog shoes to protect the soles of their feet from hazards and extreme temperatures.

If you are interested in good quality dog shoes, try Sparkpaws collection of Water-resistant Dog Boots and Shoes. The best cure is careful prevention.

Happy Walking!

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