Preventing a Dog from Biting Their Skin

Category Health
Allergies or insect bites can start your dog down the path of constant biting and licking of their skin trying to get some relief. This is a page about preventing a dog from biting their skin.


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Catherine Forman
May 14, 2006

Lick, lick, lick. Nibble nibble. In my house, we start the day with a vigorous leg-chewing session.

Excessive chewing can be a sign of skin allergies, or a reaction to insect bites. Keeping your dog on a monthly flea and tick medication like Frontline can help reduce bite problems! If your dog has other allergies (seasonal or food), the paws may be the first place they start to itch. If your dog is chewing himself nonstop, especially if he has chewed his skin open, call your vet and schedule an appointment. A cortisone shot may give him the relief he needs. Your dog may also need a prescription antihistamine or a conditioning shampoo to help keep the itchies at bay.


However, some dogs lick and chew for no medical reason at all. Compulsive leg licking is frequently seen in Labradors and German Shepherds.

When your dog is lying in what's called the "Sphinx" position, on his belly, body in a line, front paws stretched forward, the foreleg is in perfect position for some recreational licking. Dogs learn licking as comfort behavior when they are puppies being cleaned off after birth by their mother.

Licking or nibbling isn't bad, unless it becomes an obsession. A dog may lick his fur away! All that licking will cause the skin tissue to thicken, and eventually crack. Your dog risks infection if he licks himself open like this. Veterinarians compare it to obsessive compulsive disorder in humans. The dog is licking to satisfy a psychological need, rather than ease a physical problem.

Some over-the-counter remedies, like bitter apple spray, may deter your dog from licking the affected area. Then again, if he's determined, he'll just keep on licking. Your vet may prescribe medicine like what treats OCD in humans to give the skin time to heal. If treatment stops before the area is fully healed, your dog will most likely start the licking cycle all over again.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 12, 2012

My Poodle has started biting her feet. This licking and biting has caused sores to appear on each foot. Is there something I can do to help her stop?


By Lynda H.


July 13, 20120 found this helpful

My solution after years of trying different things is 1/4 to 1/2 a paracetamol tablet twice a day for a few days, then stop to see if she restarts chewing.Washing paws with Epsom salts dissolved in warm water will also help. Desperate measures have included piriton in the past. Vets will go barmy at this post but it worked for us and is a damn site cheaper.

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July 14, 20120 found this helpful

Something is probably bothering her feet in order for her to be doing that. Take her to the vet.

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November 2, 20120 found this helpful

The answer is called a veterinarian.

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June 1, 20170 found this helpful

Paracetamol is the same as tylenol which can kill a dog. So please be careful.

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June 1, 20170 found this helpful

Paracetamol is the same as tylenol which can kill dogs. Please be very careful. Consult your vet first.

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January 25, 20190 found this helpful

Maybe if you call some special vet but most vets dont know what to do. Sick of spending money just to have my dog come home and scratch some more.


Lets see...antibiotics, steroids, antifungals, nerve pills...haha makes me broke and crazy

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June 13, 2012

My dog has allergies. What kind of off the shelf medicine can I get to keep a 17 lb. Rat terrier from chewing on her feet?

By Rod


June 15, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

You don't mention what kind of allergies your dog has. It is common with food allergies for dogs to chew themselves. My dog was relentless until there was no hair whenever he could reach with his teeth. It it is a food allergy, keep trying new foods until you find one he doesn't become allergic to. He will begin to chew again if he is allergic to something in the new food.

I finally ended up with a home cooked mix of brown rice and canned salmon that my dog ate until he died at 17 years. He never chewed again. I must have gone through 5 or 6 different mixes until I hit the one that worked. Don't give up and good luck.

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April 27, 2012

My poodle has started chewing on her feet. Sometimes she will chew so hard it will bleed. Please help me find information.

By Lynda H


April 27, 20120 found this helpful

Does she need her nails trimmed? Does she have ant bites?


Those are my first two things I would suspect. Because my dogs has done that before.

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April 29, 20120 found this helpful

Athlete's foot spray. Safe

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April 30, 20121 found this helpful

Your dog is chewing on her feet because she is having an allergy attack. She may be allergic to the food you are feeding her, to the grass, to pollen just like humans. Lamb, duck and sweet potato are better choices then chicken or beef. Make sure the meat is the first ingredient.

I give my girls Benadry when they start chewing on their paws. Buy the ultratabs NOT the liquid (has too much alcohol). The recommended dose is 1 mg per pound. Benadry tablets are 25 mg each. So if your dog weights 12 pounds give him/her 1/2 tablet. I have given them one in the
morning and one in the evening to help them sleep.

Hope this helps. Celia

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