PetMeds® Dog’s Excessive Paw Licking

This week we highlight questions asked by our PetMeds Facebook fans and answered by Dr. Dym.

PetMeds customer question: Why does my dog chew and lick so much in between his paws and underneath? There are no signs of anything in there, no lesions, and nothing looks wrong.

While many animal guardians think that their pet’s nails are often too long, the truly accurate answer to most of these cases is that their pet is suffering from some sort of allergy.  The most common type of allergy is known as atopy, which is contact and/or inhalant allergens that often manifest as the feet licking behavior. Amongst the common allergens include molds, grasses, trees, dander, house dust mites, ragweed, etc.

Excessive paw licking in dogs is usually the symptom of a pet suffering from an allergy

In simple cases, I will often recommend antihistamines like Benadryl or Chlorpheniramine, while in more complex cases prescriptions for cortisone type drugs like Temaril P or Prednisone may be needed. If secondary infections develop between the feet, then oral antibiotics or oral antifungals may be prescribed. Supplemental fatty acids such as Be Well or Super Pure Omega 3 can also help some allergic pets when used long term.  Wiping feet down after coming in walks on outside grasses can also sometimes help.

The other common cause of this feet licking behavior is food allergies. Even pets on the same diet for years can develop allergies to any of the proteins or grains in the food, which can often manifest as simply feet licking. In these cases, restricted protein diets with proteins like rabbit or venison for a period of a few months can often alleviate symptoms if food allergies are suspected. While some vets will offer blood testing for various food proteins, most veterinary dermatologists feel that the only way to diagnose accurately food allergies is to place the pet on a dietary trial with a novel protein for a period o a few months.

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27 Comments

  1. My dog went to the fort branch Veterniary hospital A couple of weeks back. He say’s she has a type of Allergy that cause’s her to Bite and lick her paws. He gave me some Prednisone for her, 10 mg’s. Is there another thing I can give her to help her with this excessive itching she has there!

  2. I HAVE TRY SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS TO HELP MY DOG, SHE IS A 12YR FEMALE GOING ON 13 AND I HAVE TAKEN HER TO THREE DIFFERENT VETS. AND SPEND ABOUT $3,500.00 HUNDRED DOLLARS ON HER AND I AM RETRIED AND I AM 67 YRS OLD AND I CAN NOT AFFORD TO GAVE HER THE MEDICENT AND THE VET WENT ME TO TRY Atopica and i can not afford it .

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

    If atopica too much, perhaps ask your vet for prescription for low dose of temaril p, which is often safe to use long term and can be tapered to lowest effective dose often every other day.

  4. Hi – my husband and I would like some advice please.
    We have a 6 year old Bishon (Daisy) that we dearly love and she loves us back!
    She licks! She licks a spot where she is laying, licks the bed sheets, pillow cases, sofas, chairs, and her feet. The hair on her feet stay pink from licking. She never get any infections on her feet – just pink hair!
    Our vet(Banfield) prescribed amitriptyline HCL for her twice a day for “anxiety and licking”. Anxiety doesn’t seem to be a major problem – she’s pretty calm so I’m assuming it’s mostly for the licking.
    Any suggestions? She is still licking – we use bitter apple spray to keep her from constantly licking our new sofa!!!
    We would appreciate any info you can give us.
    Evelyn and Bill

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    This is a common obsessive compulsive disorder that is not harmful, but more annoying. other options include different drug like clomiprimine or prozac if the amitryptylline is not helping.

  6. my beagle has a GRASS allergy. i cant get her to stop chewing and licking her paws and her belly.

    i have tried benedryl and natural anti itch dog zoom products..
    vets cant help,

    what do you suggest from your site?

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Try yucca intensive by azmira from 1800petmeds. Add fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 fatty acid to meals. Change to low carb, low grain natural diet like wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds. Try different antihistamine like clemastine or tavist at dose of 1.34 mg twice daily. See vet for allergy workup if no help.

  8. My cavachon is 3 years old and lately her licking between her paws is getting worse! She is about 17 lbs and I have heard that benedryl works to inhibit their allergies but I was wondering if there is a recommended dose that I could give her on my own without having to go to the vet? How often and how many mg?

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Nicole. You can try benadryl at dose of 12.5 to 15 mg twice daily(one half of a 25 mg tablet). Also try adding fatty acid like be well from 1800petmeds, as well as proanthozone antioxidant.

  10. Great! Thank you so much for the information I will look into the be well.

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    you are very welcome Nicole

  12. my pug is 9 years old and he has excessive licking on paws and is causing body odor that seems to come back often even after bathing few days before what seems to be the best answer please to help with our love and confort between the pet lovers we are

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    This is most likely a secondary bacterial or yeast infection from underlying inhalent/contact allergies(known as atopy) or food allergies. Best to see vet for full allergy workup and possibly antibiotic or antiyeast therapy. You can try antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 4 mg twice daily and add fatty acid like be well to meals from 1800petmeds. Proanthozone and Yucca intensive also may help

  14. Hello!

    I have a 7 year old female Pembrook Welsh Corgi named Annabelle. Belle is in good health, but has a bad habit of licking her left leg area above her paw. The area she licks is about the size of a half-dollar. Is there anything that offers an anti-biotic spray solution that also has a chemical that tastes bad to inhibit her from licking the area? I appreciate any help!

  15. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 14, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    You can try bitter apple or bitter orange spray to area. This is most likely inhalent/contact allergy and/or food allergy. I would try antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 4 mg twice daily and add fatty acid to meals like be well from 1800petmeds. Also consider antioxidant like proanthozone, as well as yucca intensive. See vet for full workup if signs persist or worsen.

  16. I have a rescue. She is 5? (beagle/pitt mix) I have had her since she was 2? The last 2 or 3years I have been having problems with allergies. It is seasonal & I took he to Vet, they prescribed her Temaril-P. Worked last yr but this yr. it was worse. They aren’t cheap. I am trying to taper her down by using benedryl every other day and Temaril every other day. Vet won’t give her a refill till I get her a mini panel. Her belly gets all red and hot and the pads on her feet get red blotchy circles on her legs. I took her to two Vets to get a second opinion and second Vet told me Temaril P was a very good med. She has gained 15 lbs is that from side effects? I changed dog food. No more grain all grain free dog food. I do not think it is food related as she is ok with food in winter. Also give her Omega 6 & 3. She still lick her feet is there anything I can spray on her to help. I have hydrocortisone spray. I was using tea tree products but had a vet tell me not to use it. I also rub Aloe Vera gel on her coat. It seems rather dry. Is the Temaril P ok for her. Is that what is putting weight on her? She has big yard to run in and I walk her a lot. Thanks for your help

  17. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 31, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Long term temaril P can sometimes cause weight gain, but in some pets it is the most effective and economic option to control long term inhalent/contact allergies. Not likely food. You could ask vet about prescription atopica from 1800petmeds. you could also try zyrtac at dose of 10 to 20 mg once daily

  18. I have a 4 year old bulldog. I only every once in awhile catch her in the act of licking the inside of her 2 front paws. They seem to getting more and more red. Do you think it might be a basic allergy? Should I try Benadryl?

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 9, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Benadryl is fine to try at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. Also add fatty acid like be well from 1800petmeds.

  20. My Great Dane is about 3 years old, and broke a nail on her front paw, and my vet cut off the nail which bled. The vet treated the injury and wrapped it. My dog immediately chewed it off and began licking the wound, and will not let it heal. I have taken her back to the vet, which applied another wrap, and said I should purchase a paw boot to keep her from licking it. I can not find a boot for that purpose. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank You

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 8, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Try the natural remedy Traumeel from 1800petmeds over a few weeks which often stimulates healing from injuries like this. also ask vet about possible antibiotic.

  22. why do dogs chew their front legs?

  23. I have a yorkie that chews his front legs around the ankle area, why does he do that? has done it for awhile now, he is 14 yrs old.

  24. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    This is most commonly due to inhalent/contact allergies; also known as atopy. Usually antihistamines and/or low dose cortisone helps. Also can consider newer drug called apoquel. Food allergies rarely involved but may be worth considering.

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Answered below

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