Acral Lick Dermatitis


When it comes to frustrating health issues in UK dogs, acral lick dermatitis ranks among the top.

Acral Lick Dermatitis in it’s simplest definition is a skin disorder that holds strong psychological roots causing dog’s to lick, bite and chew the affected areas of their legs.

Acral Lick Dermatitis is also known by other names including:

  • Lick granuloma
  • Canine neurodermatitis
  • Acral lick

Dogs suffering from acral lick dermatitis have been observed licking, sucking and occasionally even biting at various areas on their skin. This behaviour is commonly, but not exclusively, contained towards the lower areas of their legs.

Most dogs suffering from this condition in the UK tend to be from middle age to older dogs as opposed to younger puppies.

This condition has also been linked heavily to environmental factors but it is also thought to have some connection to a possible hereditary origin.


Lesions on areas of a dog’s legs, that have also subsequently formed bald patches, is the most obvious sign of a dog suffering from acral lick dermatitis.

These lesions can vary greatly in terms of size. Lesions on UK dogs suffering have been measured as anywhere from a few centimetres to completely covering the limb.

Most UK dogs suffering from the disease will be observed licking, sucking or biting the area frequently.

Affected Breeds

Whilst the science behind the condition is inconclusive on inheritance, these breeds tend to be most susceptible to Lick Granuloma.


Treatment for acral lick dermatitis will need to address both the lesions mentioned in symptoms above and the environmental factors that are likely at the heart of the root cause.

Environmental factors are likely to be related to stress, boredom and other frustrations in the dog’s everyday life. Addressing exercise, obedience training and any anxiety issues your dog is experiencing are going to be great areas to start with. Many UK dog owners have reported that a lack of exercise leading to boredom has been a key factor in this health condition affecting their dog.

For the lesions and affected areas, a UK veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics and protective bandaging allowing the lesion to heal whilst behavioural issues are addressed. Anti lick sprays and ointments are also available in the UK to deter your dog from the affected area.

Treatment Success Rate

Since acral lick dermatitis tends to be categorised as a psychological health issue in UK dogs, it’s treatment success rate is dependant on many factors.

These factors need to be completed in tandem to give your dog the best chance of recovery.

Despite this, UK dogs can see a ~70% success rate when the wound is tended to by a veterinarian and the dog receives behavioural changes mentioned in the treatment section above.

In situations where UK dogs have not seen a behavioural change through training it can be severely detrimental. Acral lick dermatitis has been observed to continue, recur and worsen in such cases causes severe side effects.

Further Reading

  • Wikipedia –
  • Landsberg, G. (2003) Handbook of behavioural problems of the dog and cat Elsevier Health Sciences
  • Muller, G. (2001) Small animal dermatology Elsevier Health Sciences

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