Dogs have a natural tendency to lick their body. The constant licking of one specific part can cause inflammation, and doesn’t provide time to heal. Eventually, it leads to itching and so more licking. It creates a nasty cycle of licking and itching, known as lick granuloma. Also called acral lick dermatitis, the word acral specifies the particular point of the condition.
The most common place of the site are front limbs, between the toes and the elbows. Affected areas have raised ulceration, and shows thickening of the skin with massive hair loss. Most common sufferers are middle-aged dogs and older canines.
Some secondary conditions can trigger the disease. These are bacterial infections, yeast infections, hair follicles that suffers constant ruptures, and rupture of the apocrine glands. Any of these secondary issues can make the dog suffer immensely and can also trigger some other medical problems.
The significant portion of the vet community believes that itchy skin triggers too much of licking, which in turns helps acral lick dermatitis to thrive on the surface. Some other painful disorders can also trigger the condition, which are sudden trauma to the legs, a fracture, discomfort after having surgery, peripheral neuropathy, and osteoarthritis. Few chiropractic issues such as referred spinal pain and nerve impingement may also trigger the condition in a dog.
Some dogs can also have psychological problems such as canine obsessive-compulsive disorder. When a dog constantly licks an area, it triggers the release of a chemical, endorphin. This chemical makes the licking process pleasant for the dog. Some other psychological issues related to the excessive licking are stress, boredom, and separation anxiety. It's very much necessary to determine the cause of the condition to start the treatment process.
The primary step of diagnosis will be to rule out the possibilities of any other condition, especially allergic conditions. It can happen that the dog may be suffering from the recurrent ear or skin infections, hot spots, and or itching in other areas, the dog may have generalized allergic conditions that immediately needs addressing. The patient can have allergies to fleas, foods, specific chemical, or any other substances, that requires thorough investigation. Some tests to determine if the dog is having a sensitivity to foods, fleas, etc. can be done. There are numerous tests to make a diagnosis. These examination includes deep skin scraping to check for mites and culturing of the skin to confirm the presence of infection. Although done on rare occasions, to rule out the possibility of cancer, the vet can conduct the skin biopsies.
There are some topical remedies for treating the condition. To successfully address the disease, the owner has to make sure that the dog doesn’t lick the affected place excessively. The affected area needs cleaning twice a day. The vet may use the laser therapy along with the Assisi Loop, which is a pulsed electromagnetic device. In some other chronic cases, the vet may use acupuncture.
The vet can also address the condition by using chiropractic subluxations. Alternative therapies such as Reiki can also be used.To prevent the dog from licking, the owner can use the Elizabeth collar, which works wonders if the owner isn’t there to supervise. The help of the Elizabeth collar will end the constant cycle of itch-lick in the dog.
The owner has to keep a close eye on the dog’s licking behavior. Scolding the dog for the same on the first hand. If there seems a sign of injury to the body, immediate consultation with the vet is needed.