Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws Before Going To Sleep?


Licking is one of the things that dogs normally do. And they lick anywhere… your foot, the wall, metals, and of course they lick their own body parts. 

Dogs are notorious for licking their paws. The question is, why? It’s one of the mysteries of the canine world that science can’t answer. 

Some experts say it might be to clean dirt off from under their nails or remove bacteria, but others think they do it because they don’t have sweat glands and need to cool down (they lick their paws when hot).

Unless it becomes excessive, paw-licking is normal. But do you know that there’s more to dog licking than just your pet giving you wet kisses?

If you’ve lived with dogs for a long time, perhaps you’ve also wondered why do dogs lick their paws before going to sleep? Here some of the reasons why.

  1. An allergic reaction
  2. A foreign body stuck in their paws
  3. Discomfort from parasites
  4. Potential health issues
  5. Self-grooming

Dog behavior is often a response to a stimulus – internal or external. Whether in a good or bad way, dogs respond or react. But when a certain behavior becomes noticeable or gets out of hand, that’s a signal for us dog parents to take a closer look.

Thus, when dogs nibble, scratch, or lick a little bit too much, then maybe it’s time to have a check-up.

Why do dogs lick their paws at night?

When your dog licks its paws at night, he or she may just be self-cleaning! But if licking becomes a worrisome habit or behavior, then something more serious must be going on.

As pet parents, we should know how to spot symptoms of possible health issues that may be associated with “excessive licking” in dogs.  

Potential Allergies 

Our furry buddies can be allergic to certain foods, household products (especially those that contain harsh chemicals like cleaning agents), and other allergens found in the environment (e.g., pollen, dust mites). 

If your dog has been exposed to any of these and has been licking excessively, then it might be an allergic response. 

A Foreign Object Stuck in their Pads

It’s a good habit to regularly check our dogs’ paws. If they lick their paws too much, it may be a sign that they’re trying to get rid of something that’s stuck in their paws. If you walk your dog outside every day, there would be a chance of foreign material getting stuck in between their digital pads (toes). 

Parasites

When was the last time you checked for fleas? Yes, dogs would also lick their paws too much if they have parasites. That’s one of the immediate responses to itchiness, aside from scratching. 

Your Dog May Be Sick.

That’s the last thing we want, but paw-licking can be a manifestation of some health-related issues like arthritis, fungal infection, skin-related issues like dermatitis, and paw-related injuries. 

Needs More Love

Dogs relieve their stress, anxiety, boredom through actions such as licking or nibbling stuff. So when licking becomes a bit more obsessive, it may be indicative of a behavioral problem. We need to always give them love and attention to avoid compulsive behavior in our pets.

Self-grooming

As long as they don’t lick their paws nonstop, then there’s pretty much nothing to worry about. Licking themselves at night is also just cleaning themselves before bedtime.

How do I stop my dog from excessive licking?

When self-licking (or licking in general) becomes a problem, then here are some steps that you can do:

  • Take note of any symptoms (including when they’ve started, whether it’s the first time etc.), changes in habits, and other relevant information that may help diagnose your dog. Be prepared before setting up an appointment with your vet.
  • To rule out the possibility of an underlying medical issue, take your dog to your vet. This way, we can check whether the licking is associated with a health problem and address it properly.
  • If your dog is not physically sick, then it’s time to address licking as a behavioral issue instead of a health-related one. One effective method is diverting your dog’s attention to more mind-stimulating games. 

You can give them an interactive toy or let them engage in more active play to help them relieve stress and avoid boredom. Add cuddles and hugs in the mix, and you’ve got one happy doggie!

Related Questions

What is your dog trying to warn about when they lick their paws?

Licking objects or self-licking may or may not be a warning sign of a more serious problem in dogs. As long as it is not frequent or compulsive, there’s nothing to worry about. 

Let’s not overthink and overanalyze our dog’s behavior. Sure, there may be times they get a bit bizarre, but they’re just dogs, you know. If your dog licks its paws, he or she may just be practicing hygiene!

How can I get my dog to stop licking his paws at night?

Well, paw-licking isn’t bad behavior in and of itself. It’s normal, to begin with! But if it becomes a problem for you as the owner, why don’t you get your dog examined by your vet first to eliminate the possibility of an underlying condition. 

Otherwise, you can follow the tips above on how you can “train-trick” your dog to eliminate unwanted behaviors. 

How do I know if my dog has a yeast infection on his paws?

Yeast infection is one of the possible reasons why your dog licks his or her paws more than usual. Yeast or fungus can thrive in your dog’s paws, ears, skin, or other areas. Check if you see some brownish substance or discharge in their claws. 

Look in between their pads as well. The best way to address this problem is to take your pet to your vet and have it treated.

Final Thoughts

Dog parents often misinterpret or overinterpret their dog’s behavior. However, there’s no need for us to overthink or to be anxious whenever we notice changes in the way our canine buddies behave.

They may just be going through phases in their canine lives. 

We expect them to misbehave at times. It’s OK to let them be sometimes! Dogs are happier when we allow them to be free and engage in activities that use their energy and stamina. 

But if you think that your dog’s behavior is way out of hand or if your pet seems to be not her/his usual self, then it’s best to see your doctor. It’s better safe than sorry! 

Finally, suppose you’re bothered about why your dog licks their paws before going to sleep. In that case, there are two possible scenarios for that. One, your dog may have an underlying health condition, and excessive licking is your dog’s attempt to soothe itself. And two, your dog is just being a dog who loves licking or cleaning itself up! 

Or maybe it’s time for you to roll up your sleeves, grab some treats or a ball, and then start dog behavioral training.

Andrew

I am a dog trainer and passionate about canine health and behavior problems. I train dogs of all ages but specialize in training dogs with behavioral issues such as aggression or anxiety. My favorite part of my job is watching the transformation that takes place when an owner starts to understand their pet’s needs and how to meet them.

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