My dog, Tico, will sit on the couch and lick his paws for hours. He does it so much that his white paws are stained brownish-red from his saliva. Eek.
So you can bet that I’ve spent a lot of time researching home remedies for dogs licking their paws.
When you Google “Why do dogs lick their paws” there are a ton of articles and treatments on the web — from conventional to natural remedies and everything in between.
The tricky part when you have a dog that licks their paws is that the treatment depends on the cause – and there are many many reasons a dog might be licking their paws.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
Before deciding on what home remedy you want to try for dog paw licking, you need to understand why dogs lick their paws and figure out which issue(s) your dog is experiencing.
6 Causes Of Dog Paw Licking
Some dogs have allergies that cause their paws to itch, resulting in miserable dogs that incessantly lick their paws.
These allergies can be caused by food, outdoor allergens, or indoor allergens.
If you are dealing with dog seasonal allergies, home remedies focus on healing the immune system and minimizing contact with allergens.
If you aren’t sure of the cause of your dog’s allergies, or they occur year-round, read this general information about how to treat dog allergies naturally to help you evaluate different possibilities and choose the best home remedy for your dog’s allergies.
- Yeast or other infection
If you see a deep, angry red color in between your dog’s toes and around their pads, a visit to the vet may be in order.
Yeast and other organisms can cause an infection that irritates the skin on your dog’s paws and makes it itch.
- Hormonal imbalances.
If your dog suffers from an endocrine condition that alters their normal hormone levels (such as Cushing’s disease, hyperadrenocorticism, or hypothyroidism), it may experience a number of skin and fur problems and engage in excessive paw licking.
- Behavioral issues
Some dog suffer from anxiety and may lick their paws as a coping mechanism.
Others might lick their paws because they are bored.
- Dry skin
If you live in a dry climate, your dog may have dry, irritated skin. They will lick their paws to alleviate the discomfort or itchiness.
Never discount the possibility of an injury as the cause of a dog licking their paws. Any cuts, slivers, or foreign objects like burrs will cause irritation and give rise to excessive paw licking.
I also read a very interesting article by Peter Dobias about dogs licking their paws due to collar injuries. My paw-licking dog actually had a soft-tissue neck & shoulder injury this month (ran suddenly and yanked where the eash was attached to harness) so this theory is definitely intriguing.
Once you narrow down why your dog keeps licking their paws, you are now ready to try and find the right home remedy for that issue.
Home Remedies For Dogs Licking Their Paws
The good news is that there are a ton of great home remedies for dog paw licking.
Whether your dog is licking their paws raw or chewing their feet at night while you are trying to sleep, you should find some really good options below that can give your dog relief.
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. I’m just sharing my own personal experience and information that I have read. If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
**Note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them! By using the link to buy the products you are helping support happyynaturaldog.com**
1. Check for wounds and treat naturally if necessary
The first thing you will want to do if you see your dog licking their paw is check the paw for any wounds.
Look for things like cuts, slivers, foreign objects caught between their pads or stuck in the fur on the paw (like burrs or prickers) – there are actually a lot of things to check for in this category.
Check between the toes (bottom and top of foot), under their fur (part the fur and inspect the skin), and don’t forget to check the pads.
Pads can become irritated or burned from walking on hot pavement, and can also get burned from chasing or playing on hard surfaces like cement as well as carpet or rugs.
Remove any foreign objects and apply a natural healing balm to any skin injuries.
Taco’s paw pad injury:
A quick note on how easily pads can be burned/injured:
Last week, my husband played a rousing game of fetch with my dog Taco for 5 minutes – not long at all.
I walked upstairs after they finished and saw reddish-brown strips of color about 3-4” long on my gray carpet, like someone had dragged a thick crayon.
A quick investigation found that there were also stains on the vinyl in the bathroom – but these were bright red and obviously blood.
I tracked down Taco, lifted his front feet, and sure enough, one of his pads looked like it had been filed down with a piece of sandpaper – it was raw and bloody.
We realized that when Taco ran to catch the tennis ball, he slid like a baseball player sliding face-first into the base – paws extended forward as he slid.
And he basically had burned off the black hard covering on his left front “wrist” pad (the pad further up his leg from his paw).
Had I not found this and put calendula healing salve and a bandage on it to protect it, I’m sure he would have been licking it all night.
2. Check for fleas & apply natural flea products if needed
After ruling out injury, you will also want to make sure that your dog doesn’t have fleas. These tiny critters can cause immense itching and misery for your dog, especially if your dog is allergic to flea bites.
Fleas are easiest to spot in the armpits, groin area, and under the base of the tail. They are a tiny black bug about the size of a fruit fly, and if you try and pinch one between your fingers they will jump.
If you are able to catch flea, they are difficult to squish between your fingers – you have to press hard with your fingernail to damage the flea’s body.
If you find fleas on your dog, avoid using the conventional flea-killing chemicals on the market. Read about effective natural flea killers in my article “Do natural flea and tick products work?”
3. Try switching their food
Food sensitivities and allergies can also cause itchy skin, and a common result is dogs licking their paws.
If you have recently changed foods and see your dog licking their paws more often, you may have a food sensitivity on your hands – try switching back to the previous food and see if the paw licking decreases in frequency.
Even if you haven’t switched foods recently, it never hurts to try a different dog food, preferably one with a different protein and limited ingredients to see if the licking diminishes.
Better yet, make your own dog food and dog treats! These articles show you how and explain the many benefits:
- Benefits of making your own dog food
- Raw food vs. dry food for dogs
- Homemade salmon skin dog treats recipe
- Homemade soft pumpkin & tapioca flour dog treats recipe
4. Get dog booties to prevent contact with allergens
If outdoor allergens are the reason your dog licks their paws, consider getting a pair of dog booties to minimize allergen contact when your dog is outside in the grass.
Ruffwear boots are the “Cadillac” of the dog boot industry. Their dog socks provide an added layer of protection from allergens and keep the dog boots from twisting around the paw so the sole isn’t on the bottom. I used these boots with my tripod and they were the only boot I tried that didn’t spin on the dog’s foot (thanks to the socks!)
The Summit Trex provides everyday traction and paw protection for your dog. They are less expensive than higher-end models so are a good choice if you are using them to protect paws from allergens.
These dog boots come in sets of two so you can buy the correct size for the front and back feet.
When I bought my first pair of Ruffwear dog boots, I had issues with the boots twisting on my dog’s foot as he walked (the bottom of the boot would end up on the top side of the paw).
I called Ruffwear for help and they recommended using these socks inside the boot. Sure enough, when my dog wore the socks the boots stayed in place and didn’t rotate. In addition, the socks protected my dog from getting sore spots from rubbing or chafing on long walks – and would help keep allergens out if your dog suffers from grass or other allergy.
Trust me, I know it seems ridiculous. I’m not one to go overboard and buy unnecessary things like dog socks unless I see a benefit. After seeing the difference, I now think the socks are worth every penny.
Ethical Pet dog boots are a softer alternative that offer good protection from allergens. Just be aware that they are not as durable as the Ruffwear dog boots and will rip and develop holes over time.
DO NOT keep booties on your dog all the time. Your dog sweats through its paw pads, and their feet will become warm, moist, and even MORE itchy.
Using dog booties as a way to keep your dog from licking their paws without addressing the source of the itching is unfair to the dog. You need to find the root cause and offer comfort; if they are miserable from itchy or irritated paws, putting booties on will only make your dog feel worse.
5. Wash your dog’s feet
This home remedy can make a huge difference for dogs with itchy paws!
Indoor and outdoor allergens are a common cause of dogs licking their paws. Believe it or not, dogs can get itchy feet from allergies to things like grass or leaves (outside), and dust (inside).
If you suspect outdoor allergies, wash your dog’s paws off each time they come into the house.
An easy way to do this is to keep a pan of water by the door and dip and swish your dog’s feet right before they come inside. Set an absorbent mat right inside the door to dry off the dog’s feet so they don’t track water into your house.
Check out the baking soda soak below (remedy #6); adding a little baking soda to your paw wash can help alleviate itchiness.
I use a plain plastic dishpan at my house, and the portable Mudbuster after hikes before the dogs get in my car.
If you notice less paw licking once you start washing your dog’s paws you will know that allergens like grass or dust may be the culprit.
6. Soak or rinse paws in a baking soda solution
Baking soda soothes inflamed and irritated skin, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory that can neutralize acidic paw irritants.
If you are using a paw washing bucket or pan each time your dog comes inside, simply add 1-2 Tablespoons of baking soda to the warm water. Dunk your dog’s feet in the water, swish them around to rinse in between the toes, and then let the dogs stand in the baking soda water for a minute or two.
In a tub, add ½ cup baking soda to a few inches of warm water, stir to dissolve, and have your dog stand in it for a few minutes.
7. Try an Epsom salt soak
A daily Epsom salt soak can be a game-changer for your dog. Epsom salt soaks can replenish moisture in the skin, relieve itching, inflammation, and pain, and restore skin pH levels.
Simply fill the tub with enough lukewarm water to cover your dog’s paws, add a few cups of Epsom salts, stir to dissolve them in the water, and have your dog stand in the tub for 10-20 minutes.
When you are done be sure to rinse their paws well with clean water (don’t leave the saltwater on their paws), then gently dry them with a clean towel.
8. Give your dog’s paws an oatmeal soak
Oatmeal has natural oils that serve as a moisturizer for dry, cracked paw pads. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which decrease any inflammation that is causing your dog’s paws to be painful or itchy.
Simply fill your tub with enough water to cover your dog’s paws, add two cups of organic ground oats, stir, then have your pup stand or lie down in the water for about 10 minutes.
9. Soak your dog’s feet in apple cider vinegar & water
Read carefully before soaking your dog’s paws in apple cider vinegar!
If your dog has any cuts, irritated skin, or even a rash on their paws, the apple cider vinegar could really hurt and sting when it comes in contact with your dog’s skin – so inspect your dog’s paws carefully.
If there are no cuts or rashes, an apple cider vinegar rinse is a great home remedy to try if your dog has a yeast (or other fungal) infection.
Mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar, then soak your dog’s feet for 5 minutes. Repeat 2 times a day.
10. Apply paw balm to irritated areas
If your dog’s paws have dry, itchy, irritated skin, apply some paw balm to irritated skin to help protect it from allergens, debris, salt, dirt, and other irritants.
In addition to protecting your dog’s skin, paw balm can soothe any irritation and help heal your dog’s skin.
I love the Paw Soother and Pawtection products. This brand stood out to me because 1) it has organic, all-natural ingredients like coconut oil, lavender, calendula, and vitamin E, and 2) they make the product in the U.S.
These natural ingredients are also lick-safe and won’t harm your dog if they are ingested.
11. Coconut oil
Coconut oil supports skin health and helps maintain normal moisture levels, and can also soothe skin-related irritations. It is completely safe to eat as well so you do not have to worry about your dog licking it off.
Simply massage the coconut oil directly onto your dog’s paws or add a little bit to their food.
One problem with applying it directly to your dog’s paws is that the dogs lick it off before it can soothe the skin. Might be better to get Paw Soother (above) which has other oils that also benefit irritated skin.
Read my article about the benefits of coconut oil for dogs to learn about more health conditions that coconut oil is known to help.
12. Dog shampoo
If your dog is licking their paws due to allergies, more frequent baths may help.
BUT . . . remember that too many baths will dry out their sin — it’s important to observe your dog to see if they lick their paws less or more based on the frequency of baths.
If their shampoo seems to irritate their skin, you could try a simple rinse with lukewarm water between shampoos to see if that helps reduce skin irritation and corresponding paw licking.
Regardless of how often you bathe your dog, using a natural shampoo without chemical additives (or minimal additives) will help.
These natural shampoos have soothing ingredients such as oatmeal, lavender, and aloe vera gel.
(Amazing list of all natural ingredients – click & read!)
13. CBD oil
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for dog paw licking both as a topical soother as well as an anxiety-reducer for dogs licking their paws due to anxiety.
As a topical treatment, Cannabidiol has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Apply a small amount of topical CBD oil to irritated skin on your dog’s paws to soothe their itchy and inflamed skin.
You can also work with your holistic vet to use CBD oil daily as part of an anxiety-reducing plan that helps curb obsessive behaviors such as paw licking.
If your dog’s itchy paws are due to allergies, you will want to take a holistic approach to reduce or eliminating the allergies.
Probiotics are key to establishing good gastrointestinal health, which in turn strengthens the immune system – a key to reducing and preventing allergies.
Acupuncture has shown great promise as a treatment for dog anxiety, which can be an underlying cause of dog paw licking.
I used to take my reactive dog in for acupuncture and for 24 hours after each session his anxiety and fearfulness were night-and-day different. Unfortunately for him, his reactivity is tied to food and environmental allergies so the fearfulness would creep back in the days after treatment.
I would bet, though, that if the anxiety were not allergy-related the effects would be much longer-lasting and over time could greatly reduce or eliminate your dog’s anxiety (and therefore reduce paw licking).
Acupuncture is also used to treat dog allergies. When I tried it with my golden retriever, Moose (who had debilitating skin allergies), the acupuncturist told me that dog allergies are one of the tougher problems she treats.
That said, if you try it early on (vs. after 10 years of chronic allergies in Moose’s case – he came into rescue at age 10), I would bet acupuncture would have a much greater chance of success.
A third way acupuncture can help alleviate dog paw licking is if the paw licking is due to pain. For example, a dog with arthritis may be licking their paws to alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis.
Acupuncture has a good reputation for relieving arthritic pain, and this could directly reduce your dog’s paw licking.
Finally, acupuncture also may help ease muscle pain (and associated paw licking) as it increases the blood flow to your dog’s muscles.
Read more about acupuncture for dogs with anxiety and allergies to learn about the many benefits of acupuncture for dogs.
16. Don’t over-vaccinate
Over-vaccination is a common source of dog health complications as well as other adverse effects and behavioral issues.
Over-vaccination occurs in two ways: first, the frequency of vaccines in conventional vaccine protocols results in dogs sometimes being vaccinated when they still have immunity from previous vaccines.
Consider doing annual titers – a titer measures the amount of the virus’s (rabies, distemper) immune antibodies in your dog’s blood to see if they still have enough antibodies and don’t need re-vaccination yet.
A second cause of over-vaccination is when an owner asks the vet to do vaccines that aren’t due yet in order to minimize trips to the vet.
Third, veterinarian and researcher Jean Dodds also points out that it’s important to remember that not all vaccines are considered to be essential. The need for non-essential, optional vaccines depends on the geographical exposure risk and the lifestyle of the pet and owner. For example, if you live in the city, your dog probably doesn’t need a leptospirosis vaccine (a disease they would get from marshy areas, woodlands, or farm fields).
Jean Dodds has done groundbreaking research about how often we truly need to vaccinate our dogs, and has put together a protocol that spaces out necessary vaccinations in order to minimize the stress on your dog or puppy’s immune system.
You can minimize the toll that vaccines take on your dog’s immune system by strengthening your dog’s immune health with natural immune boosters for dogs, feeding your dog a balanced, natural diet, and minimizing your dog’s stress.
17. Vitamin E
Vitamin E can reduce dog paw licking in two ways.
Topically, Vitamin E can help prevent or treat dry skin – which may be the reason your dog is licking their paws.
Simply break open a Vitamin E capsule (or buy a small bottle of Vitamin E oil) and massage it gently into your dog’s paws or skin until it is absorbed.
Repeat 2-3 times each day, then less frequently after any dry, red, or cracked skin is healed.
Adding Vitamin E to your dog’s diet is another option. Studies have shown that Vitamin E for dogs helps keep a dog’s skin, immune system, muscles, heart, nerve cells, and liver healthy. Additionally, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells against damage from free radicals and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you make homemade dog food for your dog or feed raw, you can add these Vitamin E-rich foods to your dog’s meals:
- Sweet potatoes
You can also add Vitamin E supplements to your dog’s diet.
I found one article on that listed these recommended doses:
· 400 IU for small dogs,
· 600 IU for medium dogs, and
· 800- 1000 IU for large dogs
But – as always – check this with your holistic vet first, because they will take into account what food your dog is on as well as other factors to determine the best dose for your dog.
Be careful buying Vitamin E oil, many are a mix of Vitamin E plus carrier oils so have less Vitamin E – look for 100% Vitamin E in the ingredients list.
Turmeric is a good option to consider if your dog is licking his paws due to arthritic pain or because of a wound or cut.
Curcumin, a component of turmeric, helps wounds heal by decreasing inflammation, fighting infection, and increasing oxidation.
There are other health benefits of turmeric for dogs as well, such as relieving itching from allergies due to its anti-inflammatory properties. If your dog suffers from arthritis, or inflammation from a chronic injury, adding turmeric to your dog’s diet can reduce your dog’s pain by decreasing inflammation.
To put turmeric directly on your dog’s skin, make a paste with turmeric powder and coconut oil, put it on the wound or irritated skin, and wrap with a bandage to prevent your dog from licking it off. Re-apply once a day.
To add turmeric to your dog’s meals, the Zesty Paws product below has a dosage chart based on size:
Up to 25 lbs 400mg turmeric/200mg curcumin
26 – 75 lbs 800mg turmeric/400mg curcumin
Over 75 lbs 1200mg turmeric/600mb curcumin
Multiple sites recommended starting with a low dose and working up to the desired dose gradually to avoid stomach upset.
Some articles said giving smaller amounts more times a day is more effective.
This tape is amazing: it has a rubber-like texture, is stretchy, and when you wrap it the layers stick to each other, holding the bandage in place tightly.
19. Omega-3 Fish Oil
If your dog suffers from irritated, itchy skin or skin allergies, fish oil can help.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, so including them in your dog’s meals can be an important addition to their diet that over time will provide relief.
Honey has healing properties for wounds, but will be a bit more difficult to use since your dog will want to lick it off.
You would need to apply the honey to a freshly washed paw and wrap it in gauze and medical tape.
My dog would immediately chew off the medical tape in search of the good-smelling honey so I might opt for something less tempting like the turmeric paste.
This tape will work well covering the honey so your dog doesn’t lick it off: it has a rubber-like texture, is stretchy, and when you wrap it the layers stick to each other, holding the bandage in place tightly.
21. Over the counter (OTC) allergy medications and prescriptions
Your conventional vet may recommend OTC medications like Benedryl if they think your dog’s paw licking is from allergies, or even stronger prescription allergy medications like cytopoint and apoquel.
Those medications may help with your dog’s itching in the short term, but they have long term health implications that can be very serious and they aren’t addressing the cause of the allergies (only treating the symptoms).
I would recommend trying natural alternatives to cytopoint and apoquel before resorting to them; if you are able to provide relief for your dog’s itching naturally you will avoid any potentially dangerous side effects of those prescription medications.
22. Aloe Vera
Aloe soothes burned and irritated skin.
If your dog has mildly irritated or itchy skin, try putting some aloe vera gel on the irritated skin. Rub the aloe gel in so your dog can’t lick it off.
23. Anxiety treatments
If your dog is licking its paws due to boredom or anxiety, there are many things you can do to reduce and eliminate the licking.
If your dog is bored, try some of the activities and toys in these articles:
- Best mentally stimulating dog toys
- Cognitive enrichment for dogs
- Slow feeder toys for dogs
- How to keep a dog entertained indoors
If your dog is anxious, the following articles have great natural approaches and products to help relieve your dog’s anxiety:
- 5 Key adaptogens for anxiety in dogs discusses how ashwaghanda, holy basil, and other key adaptogens can relieve your dog’s anxiety.
- If your dog is anxious during thunderstorms, read about these home remedies for dogs scared of thunder.
Dog Cone Alternatives For Dogs That Chew Their Feet
Once you are treating the underlying cause of the itchiness, you may need to keep your dog from licking and chewing the affected areas while they heal.
Check out this article full of Dog Cone Alternatives that don’t make your dog miserable!
Dog Cone Alternatives That Won’t Make Your Dog Miserable!
Using Home Remedies For Dogs Licking Their Paws Can Work!
The key to choosing the correct home remedy(s) for a dog licking their paws involves learning why dogs lick their paws, then choosing the home remedy that best addresses the underlying cause of the paw licking.
Always remember that natural approaches take more time, because you are healing the underlying cause of the paw licking instead of only treating the symptoms.
If you have had success treating your dog’s paw licking, tell us what worked in the comments below! You not only spread knowledge, but you encourage others to try a natural approach as well.
Until next time-
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