Webvet

Webvet

Social Media Icons

Follow Us:

Main Content

Lick Granuloma in dogs

Twitter Stumbleupon Mixx it! Print Email icon
Pin It
If you enjoy this article,
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.
1820090904143533BullTerrierpuppy

Dogs and cats lick themselves and other animals and people as a normal part of grooming and social interaction. Unfortunately, some pets select a specific spot and lick it relentlessly. The constant trauma and moisture associated with the continual licking damages the skin, which causes it to thicken and scar. Often this leads to a lick granuloma, which is a deep-seated infection that will not heal.

Lick granulomas are most often found on the tops or sides of your pet's paws, on the tops of the front legs from the paw to the elbow, or on the rear legs in the tarsal (ankle) area. Excessive licking can begin as an attempt to soothe pain or irritation of the skin or tissues underneath. In some cases, there is thought to be a behavioral cause, such as boredom, but there are breeds of dogs (eg, Bull Terriers) that simply tend to lick compulsively. Regardless of cause, the situation often becomes a vicious cycle. Licking an irritated area feels good (like scratching an itch), but it also causes more irritation. This leads to more licking, which leads to more irritation, and so on. The pet's skin becomes raw, thick, and raised. The wound may become infected with bacteria, and pus may be seen in the area. The lick granuloma may also be painful to the touch and may bleed easily.

Your veterinarian can often diagnose a lick granuloma on physical examination. However, he or she may recommend a skin scraping, biopsy sample, or x-ray to look for a possible underlying cause.

Treatment is challenging, because it involves not only healing the wound but also breaking the vicious lick cycle. Various medications are used, such as antibiotics to fight infection and anti-inflammatory agents to reduce swelling. Sometimes, topical drugs can control the problem, but oral or injectable medications may also be needed. Your veterinarian may bandage the area to help protect it until it can heal. A cone-shaped plastic collar can be worn over the head to physically prevent your pet from reaching the affected area. In some cases, the only way to stop the licking is with medications that are used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders in people.

Q&A

What is a lick granuloma?

A lick granuloma is a deep-seated and slow-healing skin infection brought on by constant licking.  Lick granulomas are most often found on the tops or sides of the front legs or paws, or on the ankles of the rear legs. 


Why do dogs lick these areas so much?

Excessive licking often has a behavioral cause, such as boredom or excessive compulsive disorder.  The situation often becomes a vicious cycle because licking the irritated area feels good, which leads to more licking, which leads to more irritation, and so on. 


How is this condition treated?

Treatment is aimed at healing the wound while also breaking the vicious lick cycle.  Various oral or topical medications can be used, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and even drugs for treating obsessive compulsive disorders.  Your veterinarian may bandage the area to protect it or may suggest a cone-shaped plastic collar to physically prevent your dog from reaching the affected area. 

Credit: Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
Did you like this article?
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

Related content

Pet Questions Vet Answers®

All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.
Introducing Pet-Pods...

Veterinarian with small dog FREE downloadable PDF files providing a comprehensive review of some of the most timely pet health topics: Allergies, Fleas, Summer Safety Hazards, and Vomiting and Diarrhea.

Newsletter Signup

  
Get FREE Pet Insurance Quotes Now!

Search For A Vet

Crosby