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Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws Before Bed? 9 Reasons

Your dog may lick his paws before bed due to several reasons. This habit, if persisted, may indicate a behavioral problem or an underlying medical condition. You must visit a vet to diagnose any health issue with your dog.

Key Takeaways

Dogs lick their paws before hitting bed mainly to groom themselves, remove foreign particles, ease infections, allergies, or injuries, remove parasites or fleas, or because they are stressed or bored.

Random licking is perfectly okay for dogs. However, excessive or fanatic licking can indicate some underlying problem or lead to bacterial or yeast infection due to moisture accumulation in paws.

Let’s check out the 9 common reasons dogs lick their paws before bed or any other time of the day.dog licking paws

9 Reasons why Dogs lick their Paws before Bed


A dog licking paws before bed is probably trying to clean and relax. They’ll clean their fur with paws and then lick them to remove debris and dust from their paws. Dogs’ tongue is hairy, which helps remove stuck debris from paws and other body parts.

Paw-licking also stimulates their nerves, relieves anxiety & stress, and calms them down after a long day. Licking also helps dogs regulate body temperature as saliva evaporation produces a cooling effect.

Stirring Old Memories

A dog may lick his paws to remember when he was with his mother. The mothers lick their puppies to show affection, stimulate growth and clean them. So, it is okay to let your dog lick his paws as long as it doesn’t become obsessive.

Allergies/ Skin Infections or Dermatitis

Another common reason your dog may lick his paws before bed or throughout the day is infections or allergies.

Dog allergies are usually a result of lawn fertilizer, pollen, dust mites, grass, or bacteria they may pick up while roaming outside. It then spreads to their bedding too.

Your dog can also suffer from allergies if something goes wrong in his diet. The common allergens include proteins such as chicken or beef.

Your dog may be allergic to his shampoo as well. So, carefully select the right shampoo for your dog.

A dog’s paw pads are the most vulnerable to skin infections. Yeast and bacterial infections can form inside paw pads if you don’t clean them timely. This mostly happens with water-loving breeds. Dogs with small hair can develop ingrown hairs. Wiping your dog’s paws after you bathe them or when he comes home after a rainy day helps avoid such infections.

after a rainy day helps avoid such infections.


Dogs are very good at ignoring pain throughout the day and forget it when they are excited or playing. However, the pain kicks in when they settle down to sleep. It results in licking paws and other body parts before bed.

Prolonged or one-paw licking may indicate that something is wrong with your pet. Check him and see if you have to take him to a vet.


A dog’s paw pads can get dry and need to be moisturized. Your dog will lick its paws to soothe them. It usually happens in winter when the air gets dry. Simply check your dog’s paws and give them a refreshing bath followed by a skincare routine. You can take your dog to a groomer or apply pad moisturizer yourself.

Pain or Sickness

Your dog may be in pain due to an injury or pain in his body. Random licking is fine, but excessive and obsessive licking behavior needs to be checked. Inspect your dog’s body and take them to a vet if necessary.

Aged dogs may suffer from osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disease that deteriorates bone cartilage, leading to pain and discomfort. The common signs include restlessness, no interest in walking and playing, loss of appetite, irritation, aggression, and licking his joints.

It is important to schedule a visit to your dog’s vet if you see such signs.

Parasites and Fleas

Your dog’s paws are most vulnerable to parasites, fleas, and ticks. They usually catch such things from the outside, lawn, or during a walk. Hence, your dog licks paws to soothe the itch caused by these creatures. You may also see your dog scratching itself obsessively. Keeping your dog’s flea treatment up to date helps avoid such issues. You can also spray your yard with dog-friendly pesticides to kill parasites, fleas, and ticks.

Overgrown Nails/Paw Pad Problems

Trim your dog’s nails and moisturize his paws. Overgrown nails hurt your dog’s paws by pressing the paw pad at unnatural angles. Since your dog can’t tell you or do anything about it, he starts licking it for comfort.

Depending on growth, you must trim your dog’s nails every 3-4 weeks or earlier. It also keeps you aware of any infections, allergies, or yeast growth in paw pads.

Dogs with long hair in between toes are the most susceptible to debris getting stuck in between. So, don’t forget to trim the extra hair between the toes to avoid discomfort.

trim the extra hair between the toes to avoid discomfort.

Behavioral Problems/Stress/Anxiety

Your dog may lick its paws excessively before bed or throughout the day to deal with stress, anxiety, and boredom. They try to calm and soothe themselves by repetitive licking of body parts, especially paws.

This is especially common in puppies and younger dogs. You must give your dog more time to play and take them out at least 3-4 times a week. Dogs like to wander around, and keeping them confined builds up negative energy, leading to excessive paw licking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is excessive paw-licking dangerous?

Yes. Excessive and obsessive paw licking can lead to bacterial or yeast infection due to moisture buildup. It also indicates some health issues with your dog. Hence, address the problem immediately.

How to stop your dogs from licking their paws before bed?

It is okay to ignore random paw-licking. However, obsessive and repetitive licking requires immediate attention. Here’s how you can deal with it.

  • Inspect your dog’s paws and other body parts to see if there is some injury, foreign objects, overgrown nails, or yeast growth.
  • Deal with the problem at home or take your dog to a vet if required.
  • Keep your dog clean, develop a bathing routine, and consider changing their diet and environment.
  • Spend more time with your dog to avoid stress, anxiety, and negative energy buildup.
  • Treat your dog to special foods, toys, and games every few days.
  • Groom your dog regularly and invest in high-quality protective footwear.

What is my dog trying to tell me by licking his paws?

Your dog mostly licks his paws or other body parts to relax, soothe, or eliminate debris. Your dog may also lick his paws because he is upset, bored, anxious, or needs to play. Moreover, your dog may have overgrown nails, dry skin, wounds, allergies, or paw rashes.

Why is my dog licking his paws after eating?

It usually happens when your dog is irritated from his diet. Something in his diet is disturbing and causing bloating, gas, or nausea. You can deal with this problem by changing your diet and identifying the element troubling him.

Why is my dog licking his bed before sleeping?

Your dog may lick his bedding because he smells you, or there are some leftover food items on his bed. There is nothing to worry about as long as it isn’t obsessive.

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