Obsessive grooming among dogs may result in inflamed patches of skin, which could be a medical condition called lick granuloma or acral lick dermatitis. Lick granuloma develops from the proliferation of bacteria on the skin, sometimes in conjunction with yeast infections. The most common cause of this bacterial proliferation is a dog’s obsessive behavior when it comes to self-grooming.

Lick granuloma causes the affected patches of skin to lose hair. These patches of skin are usually evident on a dog’s front legs but could also be seen in areas where a dog’s tongue could reach. Lick granuloma patches may look like hot spots at first glance, but hot spots are entirely different. Hot spots are easier to treat as compared to lick granuloma. The question is, what triggers the dog to lick his body more often than he’s supposed to?

Causes

There are several reasons behind a dog’s obsessive grooming behavior. The dog could only be suffering from allergies, insect bites, or minor injuries. Or, the underlying cause of a dog’s constant licking could be bone pain or arthritis. Hypothyroidism could also be a trigger, and the same goes with boredom, OCD, and anxiety.

Medium-sized to large-sized dogs are at a higher risk of developing lick granulomas as compared to those dogs belonging to small breeds. But Doberman pinschers, golden retrievers, German shepherds are just some of the breeds that are most prone to developing lick granuloma. Nonetheless, knowing the cause behind your dog’s constant licking will save you so much time and effort during treatment, so try to figure it out as early as you possibly can.

Treatment

There are several options when it comes to lick granuloma treatments. Your vet may recommend some antibiotics and/or some creams to address the infection. Alternatively, he might suggest for your dog to undergo laser treatments. If your dog is suffering from lick granuloma due to anxiety, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. For a more holistic approach, acupuncture may be a good idea if your dog is recovering from lick granuloma.

Despite the numerous options for the treatment of lick granuloma, it’s still a challenging condition to treat. If a dog has an obsessive behavior, it’s highly likely that he will develop a secondary lick granuloma as soon as the previous one is treated.

Prevention

Preventing your dog from developing obsessive self-grooming behavior is the first step in avoiding lick granuloma from developing. It would be a great idea to correct your dog’s obsessive licking early on, or directly address the underlying cause behind it. Here are some of the things you can do to prevent lick granuloma from developing:

  • Seek advice from your trusted veterinarian if you suspect your dog is suffering from an injury.
  • Check your dog’s body regularly for damp fur or injuries.
  • Discourage obsessive licking on the same spot by covering the affected area with a bandage.
  • If your dog has recently started on the habit of obsessive licking, try to determine the underlying cause.

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