Spot, Treat, and Prevent Canine Acral Lick Granuloma

Edited by Mian Sheilette Ong, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng and 1 other

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Observe your furry companion and see if he or she is constantly licking his or her front paws all the time. This may be the start of acral lick granuloma. It can be very disturbing to see your dog lick themselves obsessively. The constant licking of the front paws results to the gradual compromise of the dog's skin condition. As you know, the skin is the primary barrier of defense, so any wound could result to secondary ailments brought about by various pathogenic and opportunistic organisms. You have to be aware of your dog's habits and get to know how to spot, treat, and prevent acral lick granuloma. If you easily pinpoint the condition, you will be able to subject your dog to earlier treatments. These methods will help your dog break the habit, preserving the integrity of your loyal companion's skin and good overall health.

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A Case of Acral Lick Granuloma

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Dog owners who have had dogs with acral lick granuloma all have the same feedback. They all saw small sores on the front paws of their dogs. They dismissed it, thinking that the sores were just small injuries that their dog is healing through repetitive licking. They tried topical medications on the sores, but they didn't work. As days went on, the sores progressed, and spread outwards as they thickened. The sores oozed and always appeared wet because their dogs would continuously lick and chew the wound. Veterinarians usually do not have the specific cure for this condition. Small pockets of bacteria have established residence in the basal skin layer. The oil glands are already scarred and plugged. The hair follicles are broken. The capillaries are already inflamed. Even if the wound is closed up through surgical means, the dog continues to lick the sutures, even after the incision heals. Eventually, a new sore starts to develop on top of the original granuloma.

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Ultimate self-stimulation brings forth acral lick granuloma. The dog may be suffering from anxiety, especially when the owner is gone for the rest of the day. If you wrap the affected leg, the dog will make another granuloma on the other leg, right in the same area. Breeds that are prone to acral lick granuloma are male German Shepherds, Golden retrievers, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, and Doberman Pinschers.

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What Causes Acral Lick Granuloma?

There are many theories about acral lick granuloma. Below are some of the causes described in affected dogs:

  1. 1
    Boredom.
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    Dogs may lick their paws just to help them entertain themselves. This happens when they do not have the proper stimuli to help them get through their day.
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  2. 2
    Allergic dermatitis through inhalants.
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    There are others that inhale certain irritants that bring about stress in the dog. Stress is then manifested through itchiness (pruritus) and inflammation. These sensations trigger the dog's licking on areas convenient to them such as their paws.
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  3. 3
    Lodged splinter, sting, or thistle spine.
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    These instantly start a reaction that makes the dog lick on that particular spot.
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  4. 4
    Pain in the bones or joints.
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    The dog may be experiencing pain in the bone or joints. The dog licks the top area of the affected joint to ease some discomfort.
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  5. 5
    Hypothyroidism.
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    Black Labradors usually have acral lick granuloma as part of this condition.
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  6. 6
    Psychological stress.
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    The dog could be having some stress connected to separation anxiety, an invading dog, a new baby, or a new pet. Licking the paws helps the dog deal with the stress.
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Development of Acral Lick Granuloma

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If you always monitor your dog, then you will instantly notice habitual licking. Your dog may be doing this because of anxiety, pain, or itching. If your dog forms a habit of biting and licking in that particular area, the hair on that spot eventually sheds off, then red colored sores start to develop. The wound is always bleeding or wet. Excessive licking should be stopped immediately. Dogs keep licking because the activity encourages the release of endorphins or the "feel good hormone". Because the dog feels good, he or she continues to lick until they learn to find pleasure or relief in it.

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Spotting the Lick Granuloma

Your dog has acral lick granuloma if your spot the following symptoms:

  1. 1
    Thickened layer of skin around the sore or lesion
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  2. 2
    The area of the sore is raised
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  3. 3
    Hair loss in that specific area
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Treatment of Acral Lick Granuloma

Acral lick granuloma can be treated through the following:

  1. 1
    Relief of allergies, parasites, and skin irritants.
    Once the main cause of itchiness or irritation is targeted and eliminated, the licking will stop.
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  2. 2
    Elimination of stress.
    The cause of stress, which may be anxiety or pain should be treated first. Eventually, the licking will be reduced or stopped. Certain medications or therapies may be helpful in such cases.
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  3. 3
    Drug therapy.
    Dogs may also acquire obsessive-compulsive behavior. Discuss anti-anxiety or psychogenic drugs with your vet.
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  4. 4
    Laser surgery.
    In this procedure, the superficial layer of the lick granuloma is removed or vaporized. As the laser passes over the surface tissue of the skin, the nerves are sealed up. This stops any sensation that the dog may be feeling in that area. Bleeding during the procedure is very minimal so it is not a very dangerous operation.
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  5. 5
    Diet change.
    You should give your dog a high-quality diet. It should be meat-based. Also give fatty acid supplementation to your dog for added coat protection and health.
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  6. 6
    Keep the affected area sanitized.
    Always clean the area being licked by your dog. Apply topical antibiotic on it and cover the area with a self-adhesive bandage.
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Preventing Lick Granulomas from Happening or Getting Worse

Preventing acral lick granuloma takes a lot of effort on your part as the responsible dog owner. Here are some of the effective ways of keeping this bad dog habit at bay:

  1. 1
    Flea and tick prevention.
    You should make sure that this is done on a monthly basis. Flea collars, shampoos, and other products can do the job.
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  2. 2
    Allergy control.
     
    1. Subject your dog to allergy testing ($100-200). This can be done at the veterinarian's office. Allergy shots will be given to your dog if any kind of allergy issue is spotted. This is considered to be a long term method of treatment because allergies are carried throughout the dog's life.
    2. It would be best to keep your dogs indoors most of the time during the spring months. Spring season yields a high pollen count outdoors. Make sure you wash them whenever they come inside your house. Many products can reduce itching and provide immediate itch relief.
    3. Determine your dog's food allergy. Be watchful of your dog's reactions to certain foods. You may want to consider changing your dog food to a pure protein food to ensure your dog's overall health.
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  3. 3
    Provide Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid supplements.
    You can give this in food or gel Tablet form. Consult your vet about this.
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  4. 4
    Subject your dog to skin biopsy or skin scraping.
    This procedure will help spot any form of bacterial or fungal infection.
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  5. 5
    Provide plenty of activities for your dog.
    Since boredom is one of the main causes of lick granuloma, make sure that you always give your dogs something to do. They spend a lot of energy when they think about tasks and perform duties at the same time.
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  6. 6
    Give plenty of chew toys or chew bones.
    These will keep your dog occupied for a long period. Make sure that they like the chew treats, toys, or bones you give them or they will just ignore them.
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  7. 7
    Train your dog in agility.
    This will help get rid of stress and pent up energy.
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  8. 8
    Consider getting another pet or dog if your dog is the only pet at home.
    This will help the dog interact and eliminate boredom and anxiety.
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  9. 9
    Select the right dog breed or the right pet.
    If you think you cannot give enough time for a dog, consider getting a cat. If you really want a dog, get a smaller one instead of a large one.
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Acral lick granuloma is a very bothersome and risky condition for your dog. You should make sure that you are always aware of your dog's behavior and overall health.

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Tips

  • Always run your hands all over the dog's body. This is an effective way of checking for any sensitivity, especially in the front legs.
  • Make sure to check on your dog regularly. This is to see what the dog does, even when he or she is not with you.
  • Once you notice habitual licking, wrap the area with a bandage.
  • Put drops of essential oils such as lavender on the bandaged area.
  • Communicate with your vet at all times with regard to this condition so that it can be addressed properly.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Dogs

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Anonymous

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