Why Do Dogs Lick Their Legs? Should I Be Worried?

Dogs are very big on tactile stimulation, and licking is by far one of their favorite ways to explore their surroundings. If you have noticed your dog licking its legs a lot, there is probably a good reason for it.

There is often nothing to worry about if you find your dog licking their legs. The most common reason why dogs do this is to groom themselves. Nonetheless, there are a few scenarios that should be legitimate causes for concern, like excessive licking due to pain.

In the sections below, we shall highlight all the common reasons why dogs lick their legs, including those that should get you worried.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Legs?

Image from Embark Vet

Dogs lick themselves for a number of reasons, but most are absolutely harmless. For some perspective, here are four of the most common reasons why your pooch is going to town on its legs.


Dogs are technically not as fussy as cats about self-grooming, but they still like to take care of themselves every now and then. Therefore, if you find your dog calmly licking their legs, the chances are that they are doing it to clean up.

You will notice this after instances where the fur has been contaminated. It could be mud that they picked up during your daily walk. It could also be the unfamiliar scent of grooming products that they are ironically trying to groom off their legs.

For Relief

Dogs donโ€™t know how to massage sore spots for relief and will often turn to licking as a method to deal with the localized pain. The relief from licking could also be for irritation, including intense itchiness where scratching just isnโ€™t doing the trick.

To Work Out Tension

If you have a restless pooch with a lot of pent-up tension, they may turn to excessively licking their legs and other parts of their bodies. This will often be accompanied by their features of restlessness, including pacing, increased vocalization, and general destructiveness.

Out Of Boredom

Finally, your dog could just be licking their legs out of boredom. This gives them something simple to focus on, as they are lost in the dog equivalent of deep thought.

If your dog is licking their legs out of pure boredom, you will also notice them trying to get your attention in other ways, including licking your hands, staring at you, and getting clingy.

Why Is My Dog Constantly Licking Their Legs?

Image from Pet Plate

If your dog is constantly licking their legs, they are most likely dealing with discomfort and trying to get relief.

For some perspective on what to look out for, here are some of the reasons why seeing your dog excessively, licking its legs could be a valid cause for concern.

Pest Infestation

If your dog is hosting pests like fleas or ticks, licking their legs is one of the signs you may find very prevalent. They do this for many reasons, with the main being to offer relief for the intense itchiness caused by the little critters in their coat.

Your dog may also lick their legs excessively in these cases to soothe the pain caused by open sores and skin infections which are common complications of parasite infestation.


If your dog has arthritis, they will most likely constantly lick the affected leg as a way to get some relief or communicate to you that they are uncomfortable. The licking in these cases is usually localized to the specific joint that is affected.

In addition to licking, you may notice other signs of arthritis, like limping and localized swelling.

Skin Infection

If your dog has a skin infection on their leg, the pain, itchiness, and general irritation will often cause them to lick their legs constantly. This is soothing and is also a natural instinct to keep the area clean.

However, given how dirty a dogโ€™s mouth can be, licking open sores or sites of skin infection could end up doing more harm than good to the dog. This is why it is sometimes best to invest in restrictive collars to keep the pooch from contaminating the infected site.

Underlying Injuries

Soft tissue injuries and bone injuries, including fractures, could be another worrying reason why your dog is constantly licking their leg. As with arthritis, the licking will be limited to the specific spot on the affected leg and will be accompanied by limping and swelling.

With fractures, there may also be apparent deformities, including limbs bending in unusual positions.


If your dog suffers from allergies, one of the most common manifestations is skin irritation. This ranges from itchiness and hive breakouts to general discomfort. Here, the excessive licking will not only be on the legs but their entire bodies.

However, if your dog is focusing on their legs, then chances are that they have hives breaking out in their limbs from the allergic reaction.

Joint Dysplasia

Joint dysplasia is a condition in dogs where joints fail to form normally and result in instability and, eventually, destruction of the joint. The hip is one of the most commonly affected joints in this case and might be the reason why your pooch is licking its legs so much.

How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Licking Their Legs?

If your dog is licking their legs too much, the best way to stop it is by identifying the cause and dealing with it directly. It is because the licking is more often than not simply a symptom of the more significant underlying issue.

Here is a bit more on this tip and more that will help you stop your dog from licking its legs constantly.

Consult A Vet

It is always best to play it safe if your dog is licking their legs too frequently, in which case a visit to the vet wonโ€™t hurt. They will be in the best position to perform a thorough assessment of the dog to identify physical issues that could be triggering the compulsion to lick their legs.

Veterinarians with experience in dog psychology could also help in terms of identifying psychological issues like anxiety or phobias in the dogs that could also be causing the problem.

Once the issue is identified, the vet will also be in the best position to offer you advice on the best way to solve it so your dog can finally stop licking their legs when it isnโ€™t necessary.

Groom Your Dog Adequately

If your dog is licking their legs for grooming, there isnโ€™t too much to be concerned about. However, it is something you may want to stop to avoid issues like fur balls and bald spots if it turns into a compulsion.

Grooming your dog regularly and adequately is by far the easiest way to ensure this. It will also help if you can find dog grooming products that are unscented or mildly scented to avoid confusing your dog.

Distract The Dog

A little engagement and entertainment go a very long way when it comes to stopping dogs from licking excessively. This works whether the compulsion is triggered by psychological unrest or physical discomfort.

The best solution, in this case, is to get your dog toys that they can lick or chew on. Edible chew toys are perfect for this job.

Furthermore, make time to play with your dog to keep them entertained, so they donโ€™t have to lick their legs for attention.

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Pete Decker