The harness that keeps your pup in check on walks, or the life jacket that keeps him afloat during his doggy swims, might be causing his armpits, or axillae, to chafe. Although your little guy might refuse to admit it, chafing is painful, so you'll make his life easier by eliminating the cause.
A harness is a prime culprit for chafing, because the straps slide under your pup's legs and can rub him raw. Your little guy probably won't complain too much during his walk, although you may notice him walking slower or differently. The straps of the harness may be too tight around his armpit region, or the material may be a bit rough for his skin. If you can't slide two fingers between the straps and his skin, the straps are too tight. If you loosen them and your pup still experiences chafing, try to wrap a soft cloth around where the straps touch his skin, or outfit him in a brand-new harness that comes with stylish cloth straps.
Backpacks and Clothes
If your pup is the adventurous kind, and he accompanies you on hikes or runs while sporting a backpack, the straps of the pack may rub against his armpits, in the same way the straps of a harness would. Fixing the problem is the same -- wrap a piece of cloth around the straps or try loosening them. If your little guy has his own wardrobe and frequently wears shirts or coats, the material and tightness of the shirts can cause chafing. A cotton shirt usually won't be a problem, but if the material is rough or becomes wet, like a life jacket, chafing can certainly occur. Making sure your dog doesn't wear clothes for an extended period of time usually prevents most cases of chafing. Life jackets can cause chafing in a short amount of time, so it's best to outfit him in a jacket that doesn't attach under his armpits.
When your pup's armpits become chafed, give the area some time to recuperate, and keep harnesses, backpacks and clothes locked up until the area heals. The only way the area will heal is by keeping that dog's big tongue away. Since chafed armpits mean sore armpits, your pup will want to lick them incessantly. Distracting him can help when you're awake, but an Elizabethan collar, or E-collar, may be necessary for a day to allow the area to heal. If for some reason he's irritating the area by moving, or causing it to crack open, dab a tiny bit of petroleum jelly on his armpits. The jelly can help reduce friction, and a small amount won't pose any health concerns if he finds a way to sneak in a few licks.
Chafing isn't uncommon for dogs that strut their stuff while wearing backpacks, harnesses or clothes, but it's easy to mistake chafing for a skin condition, such as a yeast infection. If your dog's armpits develop a discoloration, bumps, scabs or anything abnormal, take him to the vet. Chafing should look considerably better after a day or two. Infections and skin conditions will worsen over time if they're not treated.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.