Acral lick granuloma, a problem for many dogs

Dogs often develop hot spots where they lick and chew constantly. A hot spot like this on the front paw near the wrist or the outside rear leg can turn into an Acral (relating to limbs ) Lick Granuloma. The spot becomes red, irritated and an open sore. The licking and chewing becomes a compulsive behavior.

Over time, the area get larger and the tissue becomes thick. It may ooze or bleed and becomes a open scarred sore. It can affect the dogs leg down to the base layer of skin, and under a microscope, its possible to find broken hair follicles, bacteria and damaged or inflamed capillaries.

Any dog can develop a lick granuloma, however, certain breeds are more prone. Dobermans, Rottweilers, Weimaraners, German Shepherds, Labs and Golden Retrievers seem most likely to develop the condition. So, what causes a lick granuloma? There is not any one specific cause to explain every case, however, veterinary dermatologists agree on several things. Boredom is believed to be one reason a dog will develop a lick granuloma. Licking and chewing is just something to do to pass the time. Another cause can be allergic dermatitis that causes and inflammation and itching. An injury or a splinter or thorn in the paw can trigger licking and chewing. The problem is, the dog just cannot leave it alone, so it does not heal.

There are several options for treatment of a lick granuloma. One of the newest treatments is laser surgery. The laser vaporizes the infected tissue and seals the nerve endings. You may think wrapping the paw and using a lampshade collar would allow the sore to heal, but the dog will just start licking above the bandage and cause a new sore. Other methods of treatment have been tried, such as cortisone injections and even anti-anxiety medication. These drugs were believed to help curb the compulsive need to lick.

It seems the best result is achieved with a long term course of antibiotics. The dog should be on the medication for as long as 6 months. Treatment with an antibiotic and cortisone cream, in conjunction with the medicine will help.

It is important for your dog to be fed a high quality, meat based diet for optimal health. An all natural pet vitamin will provide the needed Omega Fatty Acids to maintain healthy skin and coat for your dog.

Joseph M. Sabol is a world class Doberman breeder.