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licking/chewing tops of legs (anxiety)

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I have had my 3yr old BC/Aussie X for 2.5 years. She has always been a well adjusted dog, a little on the soft side but not terrible. We have been taking agility lessons for the past 5months and Skye has had increasing anxiety with it, so a couple weeks ago we decided to take a break (and possibly stop). For the past month she has been licking/chewing the tops of her legs I assume from anxiety about agility (beating myself up for pushing her too much). Nothing has changed around the house, her food, anything..... We are on week two of no more agility or training of any sort really, and I am trying to just build our relationship and bond back. She is not letting up on the licking/chewing if anything it is maybe a bit worse.


I guess my question is, how long should I wait before this licking/chewing thing should be looked at by a veterinarian, I am afraid, what started out as anxiety about agility might turn into self rewarding habit. Should I think about medicine, should I get an e-collar (might cause more anxiety) to just break her of doing it for a while. Right now the only reason I can tell she is doing it is that her fur on her (white) legs is discolored, she isn't doing any damage or even causing hair loss, I can just tell she is doing it.


She is a very low drive dog, We go on walks and I try to play ball and Frisbee with her but she lasts about three throws before she just lays down, and wants to just hang out. I am home during the day, most days, I work about 5hrs one day a week and when the weather is nice she can go with me.


I am not sure where to go from here, or if I should just wait it out a little bit more since it has only been two weeks since we stopped agility.

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There's a lot here to consider. It could be anxiety - it could be allergies, and allergies can pop up at any point to almost anything. It could be her legs hurt her. Shoshone has really terrible arthritis and she chews and licks at her paws sometimes, then gets up and limps a bit.


So, short answer is vet check just in case, and be aware that with allergies there is usually a trial and error period of what the dog is allergic to. I'm suspicious that there might be something physical going on because of the lack of interest she shows in a ball.


I'd throw in some trick training, really work her mind and get her focused on interacting with you more intensely than just walks. She might perk up with more mental stimulation.


Good luck, let us know how she gets on.



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I'd go to the vet, but realize that not all vets really understand anxiety in dogs. The first vet I talked to about Dean's anxiety really poo-poo'ed it. The second prescribed meds that have helped him a TON.


If the licking is from anxiety, you might want to start researching anxiety meds and talk to your vet about that option.


Of course, you want to rule out allergies, etc. Speedy was licking his legs a lot and I thought it was allergies - turned out it was his arthritis. Now that we are treating the arthritis more, the licking has stopped.


So, I would talk to a vet, but keep in mind that if the vet dismisses the possibility of anxiety, I would get a second opinion.

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I'd consider taking her to the vet and ruling out hypothyroidism (since a symptom can be low energy and it can make them more prone to skin problems). Our aussie also chews the hair off his front legs and obsessively licks his feet randomly. I know its related to stress in his case. He will do it when he's home alone, he will do it if we have to crate him when we have a bunch of people over so he's upset that he's not out (and harassing them), he will do it if he hasn't gotten enough walks or attention. They can also lick like that from stress caused by pain (so I'd get her joints checked to make sure she doesn't have bad hips, teeth checked to make sure no bad ones etc).


On another note...one of the people in my agility group had a belgian shep who developed a severe anxiety/fear about doing agility/doing something wrong (he would get stressed if she repeated something thinking he had made a mistake). He initially was fine and then as time went on because stressed and not interested at all. He was found to be hypothyroid, she got him on the meds and stopped agility for somewhere between 6mo and a year and now she's starting up again and he's showing a lot more enthusiasm and isn't shutting down like he was before. He's still a soft dog, but he's definitely improved.

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Thanks for the advice.


I was looking closer at the skin on her belly last night (my previous dogs with allergies always showed skin lesions on the belly) and I found FLEAS, OMG, she gets advantix every month on schedule. So I gave her another dose, I am not sure if that was causing the licking, but I would like to rule that out before we go to the Vet.


If it doesn't stop I will take her in next week.


As far as her energy level. I think she is just a mellow dog, because if we go to the dog park, or goes to play with my sister's dog, she is like a different dog energy wise. She can go for hours playing with other dogs.


I have also been thinking maybe she just needs a dog buddy, her one true love in life is playing with other dogs. I have tried to fill that place, but I just don't seem to hold a candle to other dog companionship.


I am certainly not ruling out allergies or anything else. If it continues next week to the Vet we will go.

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Just an anecdote. I have a dog who's a bit neurotic: fear aggressive, obsessive-compulsive. He circles a lot out in the yard--big circles, not spinning. At one point when I was living in another part of the state, he started to cough. My vet tried to tell me it was kennel cough, but I was convinced there was something in the dust he kicked up as he ran that he was allergic to. Eventually my vet agreed I might be right. Sometime around then, he also began licking his front legs. I didn't necessarily see him doing it, but I could tell by the pink staining on the white fur that he was. My first thought was that it was another iteration of his OCD. But shortly after that is when my vet decided to do something about the cough and put him on Temaril-p (the p stands for prednisone). The leg licking stopped pretty much immediately. That let me know that the licking was likely allergy related as well.


Once I moved away from that area, he quit coughing and didn't go back to licking, so I think the assumption of an allergen was correct in his case, although it would have been logical to assume the licking was just one more OCD thing....


Re: Advantix: none of those products kill the fleas instantly, so if the licking/chewing is related to flea allergy, using Advantix will not stop it. You may need to treat your house, Skye's bedding, etc.



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