PetMD Seal

Acral Lick Dermatitis



Acral lick disease is difficult to treat, especially if no underlying cause is identified. Physical restraints such as Elizabethan collars and bandaging can be used in the short term to prevent your cat from licking or biting the irritated area. Your cat will need to get plenty of attention and exercise to rule out any problems related to anxiety or boredom. If your veterinarian makes a diagnosis based on behavioral problems, counter-conditioning may also help. Otherwise, and any major household changes should be avoided if possible, or at least a safe space should be provided for your cat so that environmental stressors are not an issue. Unless an allergy is suspected, diet should remain the same. Surgery is only recommended if all other therapies have been exhausted.


The following medication types may be used to treat this medical condition:


1. Antibiotics


  • Based on bacterial culture and sensitivity
  • Given to your pet until infection is completely resolved, often at least six weeks


2. Systemic


  • Antihistamines
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • Selective serotonin reuptake
  • Hormone treatment
  • Antidepressants


3. Topical


  • Topical medications should be applied with gloves to avoid contamination
  • Cat must be kept from licking the treated area for 10 to 15 minutes


Living and Management


If an underlying disease is found to be the cause, treating it should help prevent the dermatitis from recurring in your cat. If it is not found, neurological causes -- obsessive compulsive or self-mutilation disorders -- may be to blame. In these cases, prognosis is guarded.


It is important that you monitor your cat's licking and chewing behavior.



Related Articles

Twitch-Skin Syndrome in Cats

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS), also known as “twitch-skin syndrome” and “psychomotor epilepsy,” is an obscure cat disorder resulting in...