Albuquerque Journal Article – Lick Wounds = Serious Problems

Chronic Nausea is Most Common Cause


My dog recently had a lick granulomas removed by laser. He was placed in an Elizabeth (cone) 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.

Dr. Nichol:

Your poor dog licks his wounds incessantly partly because they itch like crazy.  This isn’t a simple problem. Anxiety may be a factor, possibly leading to a compulsive disorder. There could be more.

Lick granulomas almost always occur on the front surface of one or both of a dog’s wrists. 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 only address the symptom. Back in the day lick granulomas were thought to result from boredom. In fact, affected dogs who get more exercise and social contact with other dogs may improve somewhat but none reach nirvana unless the true underlying cause is identified and addressed.

Antibiotics, antianxiety medication, and behavior modification have helped some 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 give antacids or make a diet change but if your dog had a voice in his treatment he would lobby hard for total relief ASAP. This calls for evidence-based medicine. I advise a thorough GI workup for your dog. A veterinary internist may recommend abdominal ultrasound, x-rays, and endoscopic biopsies in order to find the answers. If your boy is free of internal problems behavioral treatment can be started. This would include anti-compulsive medications and significant changes in his management. If you need my help on the behavioral end you are welcome to contact my office.

Do you need an explanation for your pet’s behavior? If you post a still photo or better, a short video, on, I’ll unravel the mystery for you.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.