Our ten-year-old rescue, Buddy, a Poodle Bichon, recently began to lick both fore ankles, just above the paws. He has licked his white fur turning it into an ugly, angry pink, and the skin looks raw. We have checked him for parasites and found nothing. He has been to the groomer and bathed, but it persists. I am wondering if it is from boredom or anxiety or if he has doggy eczema. I have loosely wrapped the areas to dissuade his licking. Do you have any ideas as to the cause or cure?
– Carol, Las Vegas, Nevada
Dogs lick for many reasons, and you are right that anxiety and boredom can be the culprit, so introduce more toys and daily walks into his schedule.
Also, take Buddy to the veterinarian for a skin exam. Once a dog’s skin is “angry pink” and “raw,” there is a chance for a secondary infection in addition to the itchy discomfort. Your vet can prescribe oral medications and skin topicals to make Buddy feel better.
After the skin heals, you can spray Bitter Apple (available at pet stores and online) on the area that your dog keeps licking as a preventative. Your vet may also recommend a change in diet since food allergies can cause itchy skin too. There are a lot of reduced ingredient dog foods for dogs with food allergies available at major pet stores. Introduce new foods slowly to avoid stomach upset.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal