GI Disease Underlies Most

Question:
My dog recently had a lick granulomas removed by laser. He was placed in an e-collar. When I take off the collar for him to eat he stops eating to lick the wounds. I have tried to take off the collar and dress the wounds with gauze and duct tape, as well as Boundary. Each time he chewed and licked off the dressings. Using the e-collar until the wounds heal seems cruel, especially since he will start licking anyway.

Dr. Nichol:
Your poor dog is obsessed with licking his wound in part because it itches like crazy.  Anxiety may be a factor in its cause, potentially leading to a compulsive habit.

Lick granulomas almost always occur on the front surface of a dog’s wrist, in some cases involving both front legs. They can start with a small injury. The irritation of the tongue, loaded with bacteria, results in a hairless, somewhat swollen, infected sore. Bad tasting concoctions, bandages, scolding, and public humiliation are pointless because they address only the symptom. Once thought to result from boredom affected dogs who get more exercise and social contact with other dogs may improve somewhat but none will be cured without treatment for the underlying cause.

Antibiotics, antianxiety medication, and behavior modification have helped many but the latest research has revealed that the fundamental cause of most lick granulomas is stomach and intestinal disease. We now know that the majority of dogs who lick excessively (rocks, floors, carpet, the air, their owners, or their own bodies) are chronically nauseated.

You could try an antacid or a diet change but if your dog were to weigh in he would want total relief ASAP. He needs a thorough GI workup to search for an internal cause. Abdominal ultrasound, x-rays, and endoscopic biopsies could provide crucial insights. If your boy is free of internal disease behavioral therapy can be started.
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Dog Behavior Seminar
Destruction, house-soiling, aggression, and wild and unruly behavior of dogs of all ages will be addressed in my class from 6-9 PM Wednesday, January 15 at the Canine Country Club, 7327 4th St. NW. Cost: $40. Call 277-0077 to register. Bring plenty of questions-I’ll provide individual guidance. Non-aggressive dogs are welcome.