Dogs lick things. It’s just what they do.
But there are situations when a dog’s intense licking can
lead to a condition called lick granuloma, or acral lick
dermatitis, which is basically a self-inflicted wound that
gets worse the more a dog licks it. Lick granulomas may
show signs of hair loss, redness, inflammation and open
wounds on the lower legs.
There is no one single cause of lick granuloma. It may
result from a physical condition like allergies or a bug bite
and/or a psychological reason like anxiety or boredom.
Physical and psychological causes may combine and then
as the licking continues, bacteria and or even a fungus
can start making the skin worse. As the infection worsens,
it becomes a vicious licking cycle that can be challenging
Diagnosing Lick Granuloma
Since there’s no one single cause of lick granuloma,
getting to the bottom of how your dog’s lick cycle started
can help guide the best treatment.
If you suspect that your dog has allergies, it can help to
determine the type with your Veterinarian. Reducing
exposure to environmental allergens and/or food allergy
triggers can help reduce the itch that is leading to licking.
Skin irritations like bug bites are simple enough to treat,
but once it’s become part of the licking habit, there could
be a bacterial or fungal infection involved. Other potential
causes can be a splinter or debris lodged under the skin,
cancer, recent skin injury or causes can go even deeper
than skin level — including joint conditions like arthritis.
Pain in a wrist, ankle or paw joint, for example, may lead
your dog to want to lick, and so the cycle begins.
Depending on location of the lick granuloma and other
factors, like appearance, You can work with your vet
Veterinarian to determine the best diagnostic tests to
perform. Tests may include allergy tests, skin cultures,
blood tests, biopsies and X-rays if joint issues are
Typically lick granulomas happen in spots where it’s easy
for your dog to reach — including lower parts of their legs
and base of the tail.
Stopping the Lick Cycle
Once you know what’s causing your dog to lick, you can
work with you Veterinarian to treat the underlying
condition. — and any resulting infection — to help
eliminate the need for your dog to lick. But, by this time,
your dog likely has a bit of a licking habit, and you may
need to keep him away from the wound while it heals.
Depending on the location of the wound, a sleeve, wrap or
sock may be useful. The Standard Length Adjustable
DogLeggs offers coverage and protection for the elbow
joints while the full-length version protects from the elbow
down to the top of the paw. For lick granulomas lower on
the legs, DogLeggs' Front Leg Wrap protects wounds
between the top of the paw and mid-forelimb. For issues
on the back legs, a Hock Sock may help by offering
coverage from the top of the paw to the ankle joint. For
wounds along the torso, the Surgi-Sox Leggings protects
the torso and forelimbs.
A condition on your dog’s skin, a behavioral issue or an
undiagnosed underlying condition can turn into lick
granuloma if licking becomes excessive. If you notice
incessant licking in your dog, check it out with your
Veterinarian before the problem gets worse.