Excessive Licking In Dogs (Acral Lick Granuloma)

If your dog is excessively licking his limbs or paws, he could be suffering from Acral Lick Granuloma. This is a skin disorder where a dog licks a small part of his body excessively and obsessively till it turns red and gets inflamed. Without proper and quick intervention, this condition can get worse leading to hair loss and even bleeding. Therefore, if you suspect that your pet is suffering from Acral Lick Granuloma, take him to the vet immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. Continue reading to learn more:

Prevalence

Excessive licking can affect any dog breed, but it’s more common in large breeds that are active but left alone for a long time. This includes Golden Retriever, Pomeranian, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Staffordshire Terrier, Newfoundland and English Springer Spaniel among others. In addition, Acral Lick Granuloma occurs at any age but is common mostly in dogs that are 5 years old and above.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Acral Lick Granuloma include:

  • Pain and itching
  • Swollen lesions
  • Tender and red spots on the dog’s skin
  • Bleeding
  • Hairless patches of skin that look irritated

If not treated promptly, this condition may worsen and the skin lesions may become hardened and raised. Also, the color around the edges of the lesions will change as the licking continues.

Causes

A majority of lick granuloma cases are psychological. Dermatologists believe that it’s caused by factors such as stress, lengthy confinement, boredom, lack of external stimuli as well as separation anxiety.

Treatment

Identifying the underlying cause of this skin condition is essential for its successful treatment. That’s why it’s advisable that you take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect that he suffers from it.

However, since Acral Lick Granuloma is common for reappearing even after successful medical treatment, keeping your pet busy to relieve boredom will go along way in managing the condition in the long term.

Here are some things you can do at home to help keep this condition at bay:

  • Since excessive licking can be caused by boredom due to loneliness, consider hiring a dog walker if you usually leave your pet alone for long periods (due to work, travel, school etc.). Alternatively, you can speak with your neighbors to see if any of them is willing to pass by your place at least once a day to play with him.
  • Give him something mentally stimulating that will keep him busy before you leave home. For instance, you can leave him with a stuffed frozen Kong to play with.
  • Provide him with enough physical and mental exercises when you’re around. There are several things you can do with your pet at home to keep him entertained throughout the day. You can teach him to chase bubbles, play hide and seek or the game of tug or war or any other interactive game that both of you enjoy.
  • Even the busiest people on earth have time for the people and things they love. So, create time for your pet if you love him. Take him for walks, or just relax with him on the couch as you watch TV. You’ll be surprised at how happier and closer he’ll become when you start spending more time together.

Overall, if your dog is licking a specific spot on his body excessively, call the vet immediately. He’ll be able to determine whether he’s suffering from Acral Lick Granuloma or something different. Based on the outcome of the diagnosis, he or she will recommend the best treatment plan for your pet.