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December 22, 2009 at 4:11 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Is Acral Lick Dermatitis?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Acral lick dermatitis, or lick granuloma, is a result of chronic, persistent licking, usually on the lower front leg. It may be caused by allergies, mites, tumors or a psychological or neurological disorder, although it's usually a behavioral problem. A dog will need to be examined by a vet to determine what is causing the licking.

What Is Acral Lick Dermatitis?

The constant licking makes the skin inflamed and irritated, and eventually it thickens. The continuous licking prevents skin from healing and it may become infected and itchy.

What Dogs Have Lick Granuloma?

Any dog can develop lick granuloma, but most often it occurs in these large dogs:

  • Boxer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Irish Setter

Why Do Dogs Lick?

Veterinarians think that licking makes dogs feel good by releasing endorphins; for example, the way a mother dog will lick her babies. Mostly a behavioral disorder, dogs who lick are usually sad, depressed, socially isolated, confined or abused by their owners. Dogs with acral lick dermatitis may lick because they're itchy or in pain due to allergens, fleas, infection, arthritis or tumors. Dogs may also lick due to stress, anxiety, boredom or other emotional problems. Therefore, a dog should see their veterinarian to determine the cause of the licking.

When Does Your Dog Lick?

Try to determine when your dog is licking. Is it constant or only after you leave the house? Are there irritants outside or in certain places of the house that trigger the licking? If your dog has been acting up in other ways, such as tearing up pillows or destroying other items, the condition is probably behavioral.

How Is Acral Lick Dermatitis Treated?

Treatment will depend on the cause of the licking. If there is an infection, the vet will likely prescribe a medication. The dog usually will have to wear a collar to prevent it from licking, or you may have to apply a bad-tasting cream to the area. Behavioral or psychological issues like separation anxiety or boredom will need to be addressed at home and with a dog trainer. Your dog needs plenty of exercise to stay active, and may need some fun toys or a friend if you are frequently gone for long periods of time. Obedience classes may help. Be sure to bond with your pet. If your schedule is too busy for frequent physical activity with your dog, consider a smaller dog that doesn't need large bouts of exercise, or find someone to walk them for you daily. Some depressed pets are given an anti-depressant, but most behavior could be changed though behavior modification. See your veterinarian to work on a treatment plan and you should have your happy dog back


Photo Credit: pamhule

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