It’s normal for all dogs to lick their back legs now and then for grooming. If your dog is licking its back legs excessively, it could indicate physical or psychological issues. When left untreated, excessive licking can cause other problems.
A dog constantly licking his legs can be frustrating. Some dogs make loud licking sounds, which can disturb your sleep. If you want to stop your dog from licking his back legs, you’ll have to understand why he does it.
Reasons For The Behavior
Some of the common reasons dogs lick their back legs include parasites, skin infections, and allergies. Dogs that bite or lick their hind legs excessively may do so to deal with anxiety or arthritis. Some amount of licking is acceptable, but you should consult your veterinarian if your dog licks his back legs excessively.
Fleas are one of the most common reasons dogs lick their back legs excessively. These parasites can cause itchiness since they bite your pet’s skin. A dog infected with fleas will experience itchiness and discomfort all over its body. Flea saliva can also trigger allergies in sensitive dogs.
Other parasites that cause itchiness include lice, ticks, and mites. If you notice your biting or licking its back legs excessively, check it for parasites. You should part the fur and check the skin to look for parasites. Fortunately, these parasites are easy to treat, and your veterinarian can recommend a topical treatment or shampoo.
Allergies cause itchiness which can lead your dog to lick its back legs. Dogs can be allergic to various things, including food ingredients and external allergens. Symptoms of an allergy appear whenever your dog comes into contact with the allergen.
Severe itching occurs whether the allergen is external or internal. If you notice your dog licking its paws and back legs frequently, it could be a sign of allergies. Dogs who have frequent contact with allergens also develop recurrent ear infections.
Food allergies can cause itchiness in the back legs in some cases. Your veterinarian can determine if your pet has a skin allergy by putting him on a hypoallergenic diet with minimal ingredients and hydrolyzed or novel proteins. If your pet’s condition improves within two months, you can slowly incorporate old food into his diet, helping you determine which ingredients are allergenic for your dog.
Most dogs develop an allergy to the protein in their food rather than other ingredients. Common food allergens include chicken, beef, lamb, soy, and gluten.
3. Skin Infections
Itchiness can also result from bacterial or fungal infections of the skin. They can cause painful irritation, causing your dog to lick excessively. Infections may occur on their own or due to another health condition. Dogs that lick a spot excessively can also cause open lesions which become infected.
4. Dry Skin
Parasites and skin infections can lead to dry skin, which causes further licking. It is also possible that your dog’s shampoo could strip their skin of oils. Your veterinarian can recommend a gentle, moisturizing shampoo and Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplements to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
5. Compulsive Licking
Anxiety can cause various symptoms in dogs, including compulsive licking, which usually occurs when stress and anxiety affect a dog over a long time. Certain dog breeds, like the Chihuahua, are prone to experiencing anxiety. The licking can sometimes seem constant and can be all over the dog’s body or concentrated on a single spot.
If the compulsive licking is the reason for your pet’s behavior, you will also notice it extends to other objects and animals. Your dog may groom its companions and lick objects around the house excessively. Compulsive licking is a behavioral issue that requires behavioral and medical intervention.
Dogs may also lick as a way to soothe painful spots. Arthritis and accidents can cause pain in the back legs. When joints become inflamed, your dog experiences severe discomfort. It is also possible that pain is a result of external factors. Something as simple as a mosquito bite could cause itchiness in a certain spot. You should check your pet’s fur to ensure no foreign objects are lodged in the skin. Splinters, glass, and bug bites can cause pain and excessive licking.
Issues Caused By Excessive Licking Of The Back Legs
Excessive licking can irritate the back legs, causing multiple issues. Acral Lick Dermatitis and skin infections can occur due to excessively licking the back legs.
1. Lick Granuloma
Acral Lick Dermatitis or Lick Granuloma is a condition that arises due to excessive licking of the back or front legs. There is a loss of fur, and the area has open lesions. It is important to determine the nature of the cause (physical vs. psychological), so your veterinarian can recommend appropriate treatment options.
2. Skin Infections
Your dog’s excessive licking can result in open lesions that can easily become infected by bacteria. You will notice inflammation and pus-like discharge from the area. Your veterinarian can recommend a topical or oral treatment for the infection.
What You Can Do
If your dog is licking his back legs excessively, the first step is finding out why. As discussed above, many factors can lead to this behavior. The nature of the cause, i.e., whether it is physical or psychological, is crucial for treatment. Dogs that lick compulsively due to behavioral issues will require more extensive treatment and lifestyle changes.
You should also be aware of a breed’s health issues before adopting. Certain breeds are prone to compulsive licking and allergies, such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.
In most cases, secondary conditions and infections due to excessive licking are easy to treat. Excessive licking is a common problem among dogs, so you should be mindful of your pet’s behavior. When left untreated, dermatitis can lead to severe infections in the lesions. Do not dismiss any licking behavior that seems unusual for your pet. It is your duty as a pet parent to be alert to changes in your pet’s behavior.