Dogs with lick dermatitis

 Click here to download the study flyer


The objective of this study is to see if low-level laser therapy is an effective adjunctive treatment for acral lick dermatitis (ALD)


Lick GranulomaCanine acral lick dermatitis (ALD) is a frustrating disease that manifests as excessive, compulsive licking at a focal area on a distal limb that results in a proliferative and ulcerative lesion. These lesions usually have secondary deep infection. ALD can have multiple primary causes including allergic disease, hypothyroidism, orthopedic abnormalities, neurologic, pain and psychogenic. Eventually the licking behavior can become a primary factor. Conventional therapy for ALD generally consists of oral antibiotics for deep infection and systemic behavioral-modifying medications. Oftentimes conventional therapy does not fully resolve the licking behavior. Low-level laser therapy is an alternative therapy used to treat conditions associated with pain, pruritus (itching) and inflammation. We hypothesize that low-level laser therapy may be helpful in decreasing licking behavior in dogs with ALD.


  • Dogs with a lesion consistent with ALD
  • Lesion must be present for at least 3 weeks
  • Topical or oral flea prevention for at least 2 months or longer
  • Patients are allowed to be on certain medications if used long-term such as:
                - Allergen specific immunotherapy (allergy vaccine) if used for greater than 1 year
                - Oral glucocorticoids, Apoquel (oclacitinib) and Atopica (cyclosporine) if used for greater
                  than 4 months 
                - Antihistamines if used for greater than 1 month
  • Topical therapies (shampoo, sprays, mousse, lotions) are permitted if used for greater than 1 month and not used directly on the lesion

Study Design:

Dogs will have a full physical and dermatologic exam, basic dermatology diagnostics (skin cytology, deep skin scrape). Dogs will be sedated for radiographs, bacterial and fungal culture and biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of ALD and receive treatment with an oral antibiotic and anti-anxiety medication for 4 weeks.

Treatment group receives laser therapy, control group receives sham laser (laser is off). Laser therapy will be performed 3 days/week for 2 weeks, then 2 days/week for 2 weeks for a total of 10 treatments.


Client Compensation:

  • Owners are responsible for the initial consultation fee of $125.  
  • All other diagnostic and treatment costs are covered by the study.  
  • Free 6 month flea/tick prevention on completion of the study 

Client Contact:

If you believe your pet may be eligible to enter this study, please click here to fill out a questionnaire. 

Dr. Amy Schnedeker, DVM, Resident in Dermatology and Otology