Q. My dog keeps licking himself in the same area, what does this mean?
A. Excessive licking in one area often leads to a condition called Acral Lick Dermatitis or Lick Granuloma. By constantly nibbling on one spot, which is usually on one of front legs, dogs can cause skin irritation and inflammation and not uncommonly skin infection.
There is a long list of possible causes of this problem. In many dogs this is purely a behavioral issue related to anxiety, boredom or stress. Dogs with joint pain like to lick over the painful area to alleviate pain. Skin allergy or infections, skin foreign bodies predispose dogs to Acral Lick Granuloma as well. Finally, low thyroid hormone level is believed to play a role in developing Lick Granuloma.
Treatment is often long, and close cooperation between the owner and the vet is required. The effort should ultimately be directed to identify and treat the underlying cause.