Dog Harness Chafing Treatment

How Do I Know if My Dog’s Harness is Rubbing?

The one way to know for sure if your dog’s harness is chafing is to check regularly while you are hiking or walking.

The most common place for chafing to occur under your dog’s arm in the armpits. The second most common place is on the rib cage or abdomen. It can also happen on the neck, back, or face if you use a head-lead type harness.

Some signs you may not notice when you check, or after you are done with your activity, include:

  • Hair loss where your dog’s harness comes in contact with their body.
  • Spots on your dog that are rubbed raw, red, and potentially warm to the touch.
  • Irritated spots on your dog’s skin that looks like a rash.
  • If y our dog’s harness is chafing them, try to figure out why. That can help you decide whether you need to get a different harness, make some adjustments, or work on training.

    Is it OK to leave a harness on a dog all the time?

    A dog can wear the harness all day but not at night, because it may cause irritation t their skin and can make scratches if not removed at night.

    Some Situations That Can Cause Dog Harness Chafing

    As diligent as we try to be as pet owners, sometimes accidents happen. It’s happened to my dogs a few times and I’ve heard stories from others.

    Some situations that come to mind are….

    I LOVE Ruffwear dog gear so I was excited when I got a Webmaster Harness for Chester and Gretel. I thought it made them look like real badasses on the trail.

    We went on an amazing hike to Broken Top Mountain in Oregon. It was a sunny day but we crossed several streams.

    They started to slow down and lag behind on our way back to the trailhead but I thought they were just getting tired. However, I felt really bad once we got back to the hotel.

    I took off their harnesses and realized that the harness straps fit tightly into their armpits. When the webbing got wet, dirt stuck to it and had chafed them raw.

    Although I loved the harnesses, we weren’t able to use them again because I just couldn’t get them to fit right.

    Another situation involved a harness that I recommend for Dachshunds.

    I received a message from a reader saying that she bought one for her dog but was very upset that it injured her dog.

    I asked her to tell me what happened and she said that her and her pup had a busy beach weekend with lots of walks and running. When she got home and took the harness of, she was horrified that he was completely chafed in both arm pits and was bleeding.

    I felt really bad but explained that it wasn’t so much the harness that caused the chafing but the wet combined with the sand and lots of running. Although the harness is meant to fit into a dog’s armpit, I’d never had or heard of an issue with it if it stayed dry.


    How do you treat a harness on a dog rash?

    Aloe vera skin gel is another option, but try to use something natural. DO NOT use Vaseline or petroleum jelly on the treated area. It’s not highly dangerous to dogs, but coconut oil is far better—it’s natural, not made from petroleum, and it’s safe for your dog to ingest if she starts licking the area.

    What does chafing look like on a dog?

    Putting water on the irritated skin can hurt but it may be necessary to gently wipe the skin to remove dirt and debris. Once the raw area is dry, you can apply a skin healing balm or a skin healing spray like this one or this one. Try not to use the harness that caused the chafing until the skin heals.