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Lick Granulomas

 Dog Lick Granulomas

“If you suspect that your dog may have a Lick Granuloma, have him seen by your veterinarian.”

Does your dog have a thick sore that just refuses to heal despite all the ointments you try? If so, it may be a Lick Granulomas and not the result of an infection or injury.

Lick Granulomas can be difficult to identify; often starting as spot on the skin that you dog continually licks or bites at. The spot is usually located on the front or outside of the rear leg just above the paw or on the front of the wrist area. Eventually, the skin becomes thickened and hairless as it becomes inflamed, ulcerated and oozes. Despite all this, the dog continues to aggressively lick the spot.

Causes of Lick Granuloma

Sound familiar? If you suspect that your dog may have a Lick Granuloma, have him seen by your veterinarian. Certain breeds of dogs are more inclined to develop lick granulomas and these can include Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, and Weimaraners.

Most veterinarians today think that Lick Granulomas are a result of a combination of factors, most of them psychological. Excessive licking can be tied to boredom or separation anxiety. Other stresses in your dog’s life can be at the root of the obsessive licking behavior. Lick Granulomas can also manifest as a result of health issues, such as flea allergies and other allergies, dermatological trauma, neuropathy, osteopathy, joint pain or even an embedded foreign body under the dog’s skin. Hypothyroidism, particularly in black Labs, has been found to play a role in lick granulomas. Your veterinarian will always check for these issues before diagnosing Lick Granulomas as purely a behavior problem.

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Treating and Preventing Lick Granuloma

There is no perfect or simple cure, but there are some things that you can do. In order to understand the issues surrounding treatment of lick granulomas, it is helpful to have a basic understand of what is actually occurring on the dog. With Lick Granuloma, the skin is affected through several layers, there are broken hair follicles, plugged and scarred over oil glands, inflammation and bacterial growth at the base of the lesion. Surgical removal of these lesions often won’t help if the dog continues to lick at the surgical site as the dog will continue to lick and create a new lick granuloma.

There can be many different “treatments” for lick granulomas because there are so many potential causes of the condition. If the dog is licking for psychological reasons, simply covering the lesion or even resorting to an Elizabethan collar won’t solve the root problem. Once the bandage or collar is removed, the dog resumes its licking behavior, creating new granulomas.

Sometimes the vet will prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications in combination with long-term antibiotics. These are known to help a small number of dogs, but it is not overwhelmingly effective. Cortisone injections may help to immediately shrink a lesion, but are not usually a long term resolution on their own.

The very best solution seems to be the use of long-term antibiotics, used for up to three months, in combination with other drugs as needed. Supplements, especially Omega Fatty Acid supplements, have been shown to help with many dermatological problems. However, prevention is often the best approach so it’s important that you have your dog seen at the first sign of persistent licking.