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Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:05 AM

Anyone have experience trying to help a dog with lick granuloma?

A lick granuloma, also known as acral lick dermatitis, is a skin disorder in dogs. It results typically from the dog's urge to lick the lower portion of one of its legs.

The lesion can initially be red, swollen, irritated, and bleeding, similar to a hot spot (wet eczema). The dog's incessant licking of the lesion eventually results in a thickened, firm, oval plaque.

The most common cause of lick granuloma appears to be psychological, related to stress, anxiety, separation anxiety, boredom, or compulsiveness. Lick granulomas are especially seen in active dogs left alone for long periods of time. One theory is that excessive licking causes endorphin release, which reduces pain and makes the dog feel euphoric temporarily; that effect then causes an addiction to licking.

Treatment of the primary cause, if known, is essential. In psychogenic cases, psychological factors should be identified and addressed, such as being left alone all day, being confined, and changes in the household.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lick_granuloma


Poor Sadie is a tough luck dog:



She has been dealing with lick granuloma on one of her hind paws - it's the size of a golf ball or so with a mix of exposed skin and scarring. She's now six but when we got her she was about 2 and had been hit by a car while pregnant during her first heat - all of her puppies were still born. It took forever to get her house trained and she went through a major chewing problem. We've finally managed to resolve both problems in the last year but we still crate her at night and when we leave because we don't trust her. She still has big scars on her non-affected leg (thankfully she hasn't started licking those). She developed it really fast and we had to do two rounds of cold laser to seal the wound and give her antibiotics.

We first tried covering the wound with bitter apple and liquid heat but that didn't phase her one bit. We then switched her to Prozac two weeks ago and started covering the wound to get it healed with kid socks and athletic tape. She just started licking above it and tearing the tape off. One night she got it off and of course licked it worse. I had to go out of town last few week and she's now stopped eating her full meals - tonight she started chewing above the kid socks and getting desperate to at least get her to not tear the fur off much more of and so we took some of my socks which cover most of her leg and wrapped it in duct tape.

We're not scolding her, she has our other dog for company, gets plenty of attention, was getting regular trips to the dog park until last week, plenty of walks, and gets new bones bi-monthly. She's unfortunately alone for one or two days a week except for about half an hour with our dog walker and we crate her (which sleep's in at night). She doesn't have outdoor access, we live in a condo and can't have our dogs going outside due to crazy neighbors (that's another story).

I'm thinking we keep covering the whole leg until it's very well healed. Covering the leg isn't optimal because she's likely to start licking elsewhere (she's only done that in one small spot that healed quickly), but we just can't have her hurting herself like that. My mother is at her ends wit and wants to try to give her back to the rescue and has even despondently talked about putting her down (she's really really really frustrated and stressed out ). I'm going to go to pet store tomorrow to get her different food.

Anyone dealt with this before? Any advice? Should we chance not crating her anymore? We have some metal (indoor/outdoor) enclosure grates but not really the space to make her a large area (and my mother is very skeptical). It's really hard to watch an animal hurt itself. I desperately want to get her to stop doing this so my mother doesn't go nuts

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Reply Anyone have experience trying to help a dog with lick granuloma? (Original post)
ellisonz Jan 2013 OP
hlthe2b Jan 2013 #1
ellisonz Jan 2013 #2
hlthe2b Jan 2013 #3
ellisonz Jan 2013 #4
MADem Jan 2013 #5
wildeyed Jan 2013 #6
TorchTheWitch Jan 2013 #7
irisblue Jan 2013 #8
ellisonz Jan 2013 #9
ellisonz Jan 2013 #10
maryland native Jan 2013 #11
apatty83 Mar 2013 #12
Walk away Mar 2013 #13
ellisonz Mar 2013 #14
Walk away Mar 2013 #18
ellisonz Apr 2013 #20
Rhiannon12866 Mar 2013 #15
ellisonz Mar 2013 #16
Rhiannon12866 Mar 2013 #17
IrishAyes Mar 2013 #19
ellisonz May 2013 #21
japple May 2013 #22
ellisonz May 2013 #23

Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:20 AM

1. in some of those intractable cases, acupuncture has proven useful, IF

you can find a veterinarian well trained in it (not accupressure or reiki, etc, but actual certified acupuncturist)

Obviously the behavioral issues and boredom are linked and trying to continue the walking is important... That said, once the sensation and response becomes obsessive-- and if SSRIs (like prozac) are not working, acupuncture has been shown to help in some cases.

Good luck. This dog obviously needs a good home and I hope you are able to keep him.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:23 AM

2. Our other dog is getting older now and is less interested in playing with her

Sunshine is 13. I really doubt we'll find someone to do that - I've already inquired about hypnosis but apparently that doesn't work.

I think she would be really sad if the rescue had to take her back after 4 years. I'm also not sure they'd find anywhere better to place her.

I really hope we are able to keep her two. I'm not sure how much longer Sunshine is going to live (despite being in great health) and don't want to go dogless in the house. It's maybe selfish but it's hard to give up on a dog who we've put so much work into.

Thanks though! And you're right that many people do attest to it

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:27 AM

3. No.. hypnosis is not used in animals. But acupuncture is accepted as it is inow n human medicine...

You might be surprised at how available it is in your community-- worth inquiring of your veterinarian or local or state veterinary association.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:36 AM

4. I'll check it out.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:42 AM

5. Chew chew toy? Maybe a big old Kong with some peanut butter in it?

A sedative? Perhaps an herbal one? I know "passionflower" (aka fuckitol!) works well on humans, is there a calming herb that works well on dogs? This site recommends chamomile, lavender, valarian and oats (huh?) http://www.bestbullysticks.com/blog/101-dog-care/how-to-calm-an-anxious-dog-w-herbs101-dog-care-tips-tip-53/ but I can't say if that is any good. Maybe a vet can advise?

Maybe a "larger" crate--i.e. a room where you can close the door and she can have her bed and her pal and a wee wee pad in the corner, or a section of said room?

Is there a doggie daycare where she and her pal could go for those two days a week? That might be a better solution than a dog walker. She could make friends, socialize, run around, not think about the foot...?

I'm wondering if the thing HURTS and that is why she persists, trying to dig out the pain.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 07:40 AM

6. My Border collie did this when we first got him,

although not as seriously as your girl. Changing food seemed to help more than anything. I think he was having an allergic skin reaction to start, and then the stress of moving to a new home. We do an ultra premium food called Taste of the Wild that has no grains.

In the short term can you put a collar of shame on her and maybe sedate her slightly while you are out? That way her legs could heal while you tried to get to the root of her problem.

You might also try clicker training as a behavioral redirect. I do this with my BC to burn up extra bandwidth. It gives him something to do with his intelligence and seems to decrease his intensity. You can sign up for classes or just get a book online.

Giving her back to the rescue would be hard since all of you sound very bonded. Can you give them a call? They might have some ideas to get you pup back on track.

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Response to wildeyed (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 11:08 AM

7. I was thinking a "cone of shame" might be a good idea, too

But if she needs to be crated, the cone probably won't fit and restrict her movement. Maybe a cage muzzle would be a better idea. Somehow she has to be kept from doing this licking.

If this is some neurotic thing she's doing though and isn't just licking because she has an actual irritation, she's going to have to be trained to stop doing it and get redirected to do her licking and chewing on something more appropriate than her own self.


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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #7)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 09:41 PM

8. My dog has done similar things

She is a rescue, 12 yrs old now, 65 ish #, greyhound/mystery mix, some anxiety issues. I'm pretty sure this was about 6 years ago, The first time we had been visiting some out of town friends, we left Princess Pretty Paws in their house with their dog for a dinner out, so she had well known to her company . When we returned, she'd picked bald a spot about 4X4 on her left hip area. Off to the vet the next Monday, she was put on steroids and antibiotics had a skin scraping to look for little creepy crawly buggers, nothing causing it as near as I can recall. I went to goodwill & bought several little kids long sleeved tshirts to make kind of a loose pajama covering, for the front and rear legs. I had to be a bit creative with scissors to make it fit her head and tail area. Before I put them on her I washed them twice, last time in plain hot water so I was sure there were no chemical leftovers on the fabric, then duct taped the outside' jammies' then coned her before we crated for the work day. The crate we had then was the size for a big golden retriever, so she had enough room to turn around, adjust her rewashed blankets. I also tried to wear her out before I left for work by taking a longer brisk walk in the am and a meander sniffy/mark the neighborhood walk in the pm. I kept her created and coned and jammied in a darkened room with the radio softly playing classical music and gave her a big frozen peanut butter kong immediately before I left for 9 hours.
Yes, I have been told I can be overly involved with my dogs. How is the prozac working for her? You can PM me if you'd like to.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:47 PM

9. She kept chewing above the area we had bandaged.

We're going to put a cone on her and try to find her a better home. We gave her a new bone yesterday and after about 20 minutes she lost interest in it. She managed somehow to get the smaller bandages mind you under three kids socks and athletic tape off. I don't think we'll have much luck finding someone who wants her. I still hold hope she'll just get through it here at some point.

She looks so and it's making me too

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 06:47 PM

10. Got the soft cone:

http://www.amazon.com/Comfy-Cone-E-Collar-Large-Black/product-reviews/B000XY7CKE/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

Seems to be working alright. I'm surprised she's not freaking out more over it. Seems to definitely be better than the hard "Elizabethan" cone.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 10:47 AM

11. Dog Hot Spots

I raise show dogs and coat condition is critical. I have gotten a good bit of results when facing the issues you describe.

Almost always you are facing an allergy issue.... generally to a protein.

For a typical case like this, you need to do several things and expect that it will take a while to see results.

The first thing is that the area must be dry and get good air circulation. With coated breeds that requires trimming. Need to get it to the skin!!

Second, fight infection.

Usually requires a veterinarian visit and a two week plan of topical antibiotic, generally a gentocin based spray, and concurrent internal antibiotics, generally cephalexin.

Most critical will be diet changes. Consider what protein sources your dog is getting now. Switch to a foreign protein. If chicken, go to lamb or fish. That type of change.

The diet change will work most of the time, probably 95%, but it will take a while. The diet changes show results after several weeks to a month.

No guarantees that this will work, but likely will give substantial relief.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 09:24 PM

12. Thses things may help

Dear Ellisonz,

I have a 11 year old dog that has had this disorder his whole life. I've tried many many things but recently found a few things that actually helped him. It is incredibly stressful and frustrating but don't give up yet, try a few things first to see if you can break the habit now. If after trying a few things for a few months doesn't work... and if your mother is already going crazy over it I would suggest trying to find a home for the dog now before she gets more attached. I love my dog a loooot, hes been my best friend for 11.5 years now, but caring for him is like a having a second job and disabled family member. It's stressful all the time and takes a lot of time, money and patience. Although, if I had known what I know now in the beginning I may have been able to break his habit early on. Here is a list of things that I have found helpful. The most important (and difficult) thing is to stay calm and try not to react to the situation in a way that will stress your dog out even more.

I recently discovered StopLik http://www.stoplik.com/home.php which is the most effective thing I've found. It has is pros and cons though. They cant get wet at all so if there's any water or snow on the ground you have to tape plastic over them. I use dog poop bags and Duck brand tape (real duct tape takes off too much fur and may create a new lick site). If you find a vet that will order a case for you, you'll save $ in the end. If you want to try one to start you can order singles from entirelypets.com

Bandaging (with non-stick pad and vet wrap) and spraying with bad tasting product.

If bandages keep your dog off the wounds then this will save you money in the end http://dogleggs.com/ I haven't tried them yet.

Head cone (only works for front leg wounds) I would use this as a last resort, otherwise the dog will end up living in it and never breaking the habit.

Antidepressants/Anti Anxiety medication (doggy prozac)

Lick toys such as fillable kongs and marrow bones

Excercise

Leave the radio on when they're alone

Good luck to you! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:17 PM

13. Have you tried these???

http://www.kyhorse.com/store/dog/anti-lick_strips.htm

They might help when combined with some dietary changes.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #13)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:27 PM

14. It's been discontinued.

We're still in the cone.

I'm thinking about trying tea tree oil after we stop.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #14)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 11:43 AM

18. Tea Tree Oil! That would stop me! Stinky and strong...

That's a good idea.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #18)

Tue Apr 2, 2013, 12:27 AM

20. Turns out it's a really bad idea.

It's very toxic in animals.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 02:09 AM

15. Pretty dog! :)

I'll ask my vet the next time I go, since he's the best when it comes to options, uses both traditional and Eastern medicine. Poor puppy...

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #15)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 02:17 AM

16. Oh we got an accupuncture consultation...

...she's a bad candidate. We're giving her a "shen calmer" capsule that's got salvia, some other herbs, and vitamins to fix her "blood deficiency"

She's a handful, but we still love her.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #16)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 02:22 AM

17. My vet does acupuncture, too, brought my 18-year-old cocker in for that

Since he was having a lot of difficulty walking, had to carry him outside and hold him. It worked very well, had a few sessions of electro-acupuncture and he walked just fine for the rest of his life. I've had it, so I didn't hesitate, but it does help the most for musculoskeletal ailments.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:19 PM

19. This might help

Drs. Foster & Smith sell a new type of neck collar for dogs - it's a padded tube (not a cone) and adjustable to cover the entire length of the neck. This allows the dog to eat and drink and get in comfortable positions but w/o being able to bend the neck and reach most of its body.

If you have or can designate an extra room for Sadie when you have to leave her alone for extended periods, that might help. Is she trained to pads or papers? I'd make her as cozy as possible but remove any of your heirlooms, because she might turn to destructive behavior when she can't reach her hind leg.

Try Relora when Sadie's alone for extended periods. Use liquid sedatives in diffusers she can't reach. Leave in her reach old workout clothes you haven't washed so they'll have your scent to comfort her. Put her kibble in Kong toys so she has to work for it. Leave a radio on NPR but out of her reach. If you can put a tv up high on the wall where she can see but not reach it, buy some continuous-play DVDs featuring other dogs - they really do like it. You might even record yourselves talking or singing to her. My Brigid and Molly love to watch nature shows with me, and besides their intent stares at the screen, I know they're delighted because if they see a cat or any prey animal running, they jump around and bark!

Even if you have to ask the vet to fit Sadie with an indestructible metal brace for those times she's alone, it would still beat putting her down. I admire the efforts you've already gone to, and I hope one of my suggestions might help a little also.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Fri May 10, 2013, 04:31 PM

21. UPDATE: We're better.

After almost a year of dealing with this from it's first occurrence, the lick granuloma appears to have passed. We've now moved onto a urinary tract infection, but the antibiotics are taking care of that. We continue to take Prozac and Concentrated Shen Calmer prescribed by the vet clinics Chinese medicine doctor. She's actually decided to follow-up on Sadie for free because she finds Sadie to be a curious case. If we were dealing with this again we would probably just go straight to the soft-cone and rather than messing around with the bitter apple and what not. The soft-cone did annoy her at first, but after the first few weeks she got used to it and got over it. Even when she figured out how to press her head with the cone to the ground and get just the tip of her paw with her tongue she didn't do it persistently. This then allowed us time to address the obsessive behavior with medicine. We've stopped going to the dog park because I think it caused her emotional distress because it was such an uncontrolled, chaotic environment for what is a rather traumatized dog (before we got her, Sadie was pregnant pup when she was hit by a car and lost all her puppies). I think the key thing is really to just put a stop to the self-injuring licking until the skin disorder passes, doing this would have shortened the time we dealt with this and saved several hundred dollars.



Sadie and Sunshine sleeping in the corner.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat May 11, 2013, 08:21 PM

22. Bless you for not giving up on Sadie. It sounds like she was severely traumatized

in her previous life, but you've given her the help she needs to be a happier, healthier dog. I hope the success you've been having will continue. Have you ever given her a stuffed toy to play with. Just wondered if she might still be thinking about her stillborn pups. I've seen many dogs who like to carry around a stuffed animal and treat it like some sort of surrogate baby.

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Response to japple (Reply #22)

Sat May 11, 2013, 08:25 PM

23. Not interested in them...

...and her partner dog just likes to rip out the stuffing and squeaker if there's one in the toy, so any stuffed toy meets a quick demise. She's been showing some more interest in bones as of late.

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