What to Do about Your Dog’s Licking

If your dog constantly licks herself, she probably has a good reason for it — and she may need to be checked out by a veterinarian. Any time you see your dog licking repeatedly at one spot, take a look. If she licks and bites her feet, she may have allergies. If she licks her footpads, she may have a cut there. If she is always licking her rear end, have your vet check her anal glands; they may be plugged or infected.

Dogs sometimes have the tendency to lick their front legs, especially in the area of their wrists, often for no apparent reason. They sometimes lick and chew their front legs until the areas develop thick, scarred lumps with raw skin above them. These sores are called acral lick granulomas, and veterinarians really don’t know why some dogs mutilate themselves this way.

Sometimes a dog with allergies gets into the habit of licking her legs until it becomes a vicious cycle of irritation and injury. Other times a dog licks her front leg after an injury to the leg, continuing even after the injury has healed. Some people believe that this behavior is a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Talk to your veterinarian about this problem and potential treatment options.

Sometimes dogs lick their front legs because they have been chewing a rawhide bone and have gotten some juicy pieces of bone and saliva on their legs. If your dog tends to lick obsessively, wash her legs after she finishes with a particularly delectable bone.

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