Canine Lick Granuloma
The condition is a dermatitis affecting dogs. It is caused by a dog's constant, compulsive licking of an area - usually on the lower front legs or carpal region, just above the paws. The tissue in this area is inflamed by the licking. Hair falls off, skin thickens and becomes red and ulcerated. The skin starts to itch and that makes the dog lick more until the inflamed area cannot heal. This makes the dog lick even more
The vicious cycle continues and creates aggravating conditions such as secondary infection. If you see your dog licking its front paws more than usual, check for raised, hairless, red patches of thickened skin in the area and see your vet if you find them.
No single lick granuloma treatment method can be selected until a vet determines what actually started the dog's behavior. It could have a psychological origin like stress or anxiety. Some dogs lick because it imparts a feeling of comfort or well-being. This has been attributed to the release of chemicals in the dog's brain called endorphins. In other words, licking releases brain chemicals that make some dogs feel so good that they can't stop licking.
There may be some underlying medical problem such as a tumor, trauma or parasites. Any of these and other things can start the cycle, and each possible root cause requires a different treatment modality.
Be patient and remember that the process of finding an origin for the disorder in any individual case can be long and challenging. A number of skin tests and other diagnostic procedures may be necessary and your vet may interview you extensively about when the licking started and when it seems at its worst.
Whatever the cause of the lick granuloma, any treatment must repair the inflamed tissue if the licking is to stop. This is where laser surgery has been beneficial in many cases.
When a veterinary surgeon uses a laser light on the inflamed tissue, the thickened, diseased layers of skin are burned away. Nerve tissue in that area is sealed at the same time, so the dog experiences almost no pain and there is very little bleeding associated with the treatment.
The final stage of treatment will focus on reducing or eliminating the compulsive licking. This could involve anything from covering the affected area with a protective shield, up to and including prescribing anti-depressantsor tranquilizers, or coating the repaired tissue area with something that tastes bad to discourage more licking.
If your vet does not offer laser treatments, he or she can refer you to a vet who does.