A dog licking his paw.

Scratching the occasional itch behind his ears or vigorously licking his chops at dinnertime is perfectly normal dog behavior for your canine companion. But if he starts to incessantly scratch, lick, or even bite part of his body, it’s time to schedule a checkup

At MarketPlace Veterinary Hospital, we are here to help you keep your dogs healthy and comfortable throughout their lives, and that includes helping you decode any unusual pet behaviors.

Reasons Why Dogs Lick, Bite, and Scratch

Compulsive dog licking, dog scratching, and dog biting is something many dogs will experience at some point, and most of the causes have relatively simple fixes.

Allergies and Skin Conditions

Food sensitivities and environmental allergens like pollen and mold can cause your pup’s skin to itch. Some dogs also develop contact dermatitis from things like shampoos or cleaning products. Dry skin can also cause your dog to compulsively lick or scratch his fur and skin. 


One of the most common causes of compulsive licking, biting, and scratching dog behavior is parasites—fleas, ticks, and mites. 


A dog that is anxious or bored might develop a habit of incessant licking to ease his anxiety. If he’s licking objects other than himself, such as furniture or carpeting, it’s a strong indication that he is feeling stressed.


Occasionally, hormone imbalances, such as hypothyroidism, can cause repeated skin infections, flaky skin, excessive dandruff, and ear infections—all of which will trigger your dog’s licking, biting, and scratching behavior.  

Arthritis or Other Pain

When no outward skin conditions are obvious, it’s time to consider the possibility that your dog is licking an area because it hurts. Arthritis pain and stiffness or a condition like hip dysplasia could be to blame. If he’s compulsively biting at his foot, he could have an injury, or something lodged in his paw pad. 

Curbing Compulsive Licking, Biting, and Scratching

Your Marketplace Veterinary Hospital doctor will get to the bottom of your dog’s behavior and create a treatment plan to restore your dog to better health. 

  • Food allergies can be tamed by special diets, and there are new (and effective) treatment options for seasonal allergies in pets. The use of fatty acid supplements can help address dry skin problems. 
  • If fleas and ticks are to blame, your dog will need a year-round parasite preventive, and there may be steps you need to take to rid your house and other pets of these pests
  • If your dog’s compulsive behavior is triggered by boredom, make sure your dog gets plenty of stimulation, exercise, and TLC. 
  • If a medical condition is uncovered, rest assured your dog’s doc will recommend medications or other treatment options to ease your pet’s symptoms. 

If your dog can’t stop licking, scratching, or biting, please contact us for an appointment. We are here to help!