Why Your Dog’s Paws Are Turning Brown

Why Your Dog’s Paws Are Turning Brown

Sep 21, 2021
12 min

Why Are My Dog’s Paws Turning Brown?

In most cases, the colour change in your dog’s paws is largely due to overlicking. This tends to happen when your dog’s saliva comes into contact too often with its fur coat.  But, why exactly is your dog licking its paws? Or rather, why is your dog over-licking its paws?

There are several reasons why dogs tend to lick. Some common reasons for licking include attempting to alleviate irritation, pain, anxiety or simply an activity your dog chooses to overcome boredom.

Allergic skin disease and interdigital dermatitis (inflammation/infection between the toes and pads) are the most common causes of a dog overgrooming its feet, which causes your dog’s fur to change in colour. Living in a hot, humid climate can lead to small folds and crevices forming between the toes and pads of your dog’s paws, becoming an even more ideal environment for organisms such as yeast and bacteria to overpopulate (much like how a human develops athletes foot). Aside from bacterial infection, a series of skin allergy conditions resulting from food allergies  can also lead to irritation, motivating your pup to overgroom. 

Many dogs also develop what is known as a stereotypical behaviour if they feel anxious or bored. This behaviour often takes the form of a repetitive, self comforting action such as over-licking, which ultimately results in a colour change from saliva staining.

If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort near its paws or adjacent areas, there may be a wound around the area. Arthritic joint dogs will tend to pay more attention to the area by licking it compulsively.

Porphyin in Dogs

Porphyin is naturally in dogs’ saliva and tears. Some dogs have more porphyin than others and hence contributes to the brown paws when licked. However, if your dog’s fur turns brown, it can also be a sign that it has been licking too much. 

How to Stop My Dog From Licking Excessively?

The first thing you should do is to inspect the area your dog is licking for any obvious wounds, to see if there is anything stuck in the area or leading to obvious irritation (look for a wound, a parasite such as a tick, a skin growth etc).

If there is an infection present, the area may even smell. Unlike easily identifiable physical wounds, other conditions such as osteoarthritis, allergic skin disease and behavioural causes can be harder to determine and will require a more detailed examination and discussion with your veterinarian. It’s better to be safe than sorry, indeed. You should schedule an appointment with your vet if you’re unsure. 

Once a diagnosis is made,  your vet will provide you with options to  manage the behaviour, such as treating the infection or pain if present. Dietary trials can be easily and non invasively conducted (best under veterinary direction/supervision to be meaningful). The behavioural causes are often the hardest to deal with as there’s seldom a complete “cure” for this behavior, but rather more of a long term management plan to try to address the underlying anxiety or boredom.

Reasons Why My Dog’s Paws Turn Brown

1. Dog’s Lifestyle

Dogs are always on the go – jumping, running, playing, walking, etc. They walk all over every kind of surface imaginable from hot pavement to paved driveways. All that pounding can wreak havoc on your dog’s paws. Those paws get even more wear and tear. Summer’s heat is additionally harsh on your their paws, making them lick between the paws which can cause the paws to turn brown. You may have noticed your dog paws turning brown and perhaps tried everything possible to get rid of them, but it still remains. Knowing the reason behind this new development might be more helpful than you think, understanding why the paws color is turning brown and what is responsible for it can help you get the right answer for the problem.

2. Dog’s Food & Habits

Certain foods or condition in your puppy’s system can cause a chemical reaction with your dog’s saliva. What happens is that some food can cause a reaction with your dog saliva that leads to these protein stains around the mouth and beard. Then, when the dogs lick themselves between the paws, some staining saliva can remain on the paws. This can build up and actually permeate the paws and cause them to turn brown, making the stain difficult if not impossible to remove.

Allergies are the most common in dogs, with yeast infections coming second. Allergies can make the area turn red and itchy, making the dog want to lick and chew on them. After some time, the area may be stained with saliva, particularly in lighter or white-coat dogs. This frequent licking of the paw can also be a sign of infection. The subsequent tips can help protect your dog’s paws. Foot soaks are an extraordinary way to sterilize the paws. In fact, foot soaks are recommended not only for dogs with brown, itchy, inflamed paws but also for dog’s that are exposed to certain contaminants. Try Earthbarth Hypo-allergenic Shampoo for Pets which can help with sensitive skin or skin allergies!

3. The Weather

During winter in other countries, the main contaminant is salt, which can be a strong irritant to dogs’ paws. Washing your dog’s paws regularly is an awesome approach to keeping your dog’s feet clean and maintaining its paws’ color. In the summer, it’s essential to consider foot soaks to remove sweat and dirt from your dog’s naked paws, as well as alleviate any discomfort they are feeling on their paws. 

Check out the article : “Tips to Beat the Heat!


To treat this obsessive licking,  natural anti-fungal, antiviral, safe, non-stinging, non-toxic, non-abrasive natural products are perfect to help your pup feel better.  You can either have your furry friend simply walk through the tube a couple of times, or stand him in it for 30 seconds. Then, pat the paws and dry with a towel. Here are some products that’ll help your dog feel cleaner and better!

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo For Pets ( 472ml/3.8ltr)
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Malaseb Medicated Shampoo (250ml/500ml/1L)
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YU Peony Anti-Bacterial Formula Pets Shampoo (2 Sizes)
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Dermcare Aloveen Oatmeal Shampoo 250ml/500ml
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Richard’s Organic Anti-Bacterial Shampoo 12oz
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