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Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  12 yrs experience as a small animal veterinarian; 21 yrs exp. in the animal care field
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My dog keeps licking his two front legs, occasionally biting

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My dog keeps licking his two front legs, occasionally biting them or chewing, from the front of the elbow to below paws.
Thank you for your question.

The most common reasons for excessive licking are allergies and boredom.

Allergies can develop involving food, ectoparasites (fleas), contact irritants, or inhaled allergens (molds, fungi, dust or storage mites, pollens, grasses, etc.).
In order to determine if there is an allergy component to Jake's licking, you can give him some plain Benadryl (with no additives like Tylenol or phenylephrine). You can find the dosing information for that here:

Dogs will also lick the forelegs excessively if they are bored or anxious. If there have been changes in the household (people coming or going- new babies or house guests, death in the family, someone moved out, new jobs, workmen in the home, a new home, new routines, etc.) this can cause anxiety issues and lead to excessive licking. It is believed that when a dog licks repetitively it results in the release of certain chemicals in the brain that provide and "reward" to the dog for doing so.
Dogs that are not getting enough exercise or attention also tend to lick for the same reason. If you think this is a possibility, getting Jake out for more walks, play time with balls or whatever he is into, going over basic commands a few times per day to refresh his mind, or getting him stimulating toys such as a Buster Cube to work for his food, can be helpful.

Finally, dogs can sometimes lick in these areas if they are having discomfort from arthritis. If you try the Benadryl and rule out allergy and if you don't feel that he is bored or anxious, then Jake may be having some pain in his legs. I do not recommend over-the-counter pain relievers as these can have significant side effects such as stomach or intestinal bleeding, liver and kidney problems. If you feel arthritis is a concern, I recommend you schedule an appointment with your vet soon to have Jake examined and get him started on pain medications.
You can use purchase glucosamine/ chondroitin sulfate supplements, some with omega fatty acids for inflammation, online through places like Doctors Fosters and Smith. Good products to use include Missing Link, Dasuquin, Cosequin, and Glycoflex.
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