Lick Granuloma Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies

dog licking its paw
dog licking its paw

Learn the signs and symptoms of lick granuloma, its causes, treatment, home and natural remedies. We also give you photos to help you identify the condition.

Lick Granuloma

Lick granuloma which is also known as canine acral lick dermatitis (ACL) is a skin injury resulting from excessive licking. When a dog persistently licks its skin, it results in inflammation. With time, the skin thickens and due to the continuous licking, the area cannot heal. It results in a lick-inflammation vicious cycle.

As a result, some secondary infections may occur. These include ruptured hair follicles, ruptured apocrine glands, and bacterial infections. These make the itch more severe and also perpetuate the lick cycle.

Lick Granuloma Symptoms

While not all sores are lick granulomas, sores that are exhibit specific characteristics. Your dog has a lick granuloma if you spot the following:

  • A thickened layer of skin around a lesion or sore
  • Raised sores
  • Hair loss around the lesion.

Lick Granuloma Photos

Severe lick granuloma
Severe lick granuloma
Paw Lick Granuloma
Paw lick granuloma

Causes

There is no one cause for lick granulomas applicable to all dogs. There is a different reason for each dog. anything that leads your dog into licking itself will cause a lick granuloma. Some of the most common include:

  • The dog getting bored and as a result, licking itself to pass time. This is considered a major factor.
  • Allergic dermatitis results in skin inflammation and itching. This causes stress on the skin and triggers licking on areas that the dog can reach. When done consistently this results in lick granulomas.
  • The presence of a foreign body on the skin such as bee stings, thistle spine, splinters or foxtails in dogs tend to draw attention to the affected spot. This then makes the dog lick so as to cool the area of and relief any discomfort.
  • Where the licking is happening around the wrists or ankles, the cause of the lick granuloma could be a pain in the bones or joints.
  • At times the condition could be as a result of psychological stimuli. The presence of a new pet, child, separation anxiety or in cases where the dog feels their territory is being invaded are all possible causes.
  • Black Labs tend to suffer hypothyroidism which also plays a role in acral lick granuloma.
  • Skin cancer is another cause. It could lead to uncomfortable wounds prompting licking for relief.

Lick Granuloma Treatment

Lick granuloma is a compulsive disorder and results from the dog’s compulsion to lick and chew at its targeted area. The condition is therefore hard to treat and may, therefore, persist for life. At times, when stopped from licking at a given spot, the dog will pick another area and do the same. Treatment should, therefore, be aimed at stopping the dog from this obsessive-compulsive behavior. It may be necessary to adopt long-term care to prevent the dog from going back to the habit. Below are various lick granuloma treatment options that can be adopted.

Laser Surgery

One of the fast-growing treatment for lick granuloma is laser surgical instrumentation. This though is rarely necessary and only done in severe cases.  It makes use of laser instruments to get rid of the affected tissue through vaporization of the surface layers. Laser light energy is passed through the skin and gets vaporized, surrounding nerve tissue gets sealed thus blocking any sensation. There is minimal bleeding during the process

Medication

Both oral and topical medication can be used to alleviate discomfort and limit licking.  Oral antibiotics can be given for up to two weeks in cases where the lesions are infected.  Topical steroid and antibiotics also help in reducing sensations on the lick granuloma. Where the cause is psychological, anti-anxiety and psychogenic drugs may alleviate the urge to lick.

For significant improvement on lick granuloma, administering long-term antibiotics is the recommended treatment. These may be given for three to six months. Daily use of cortisone topical creams may also help in severe cases.

Behavior Modification

Behavioral modification for lick granuloma in dogs with behavioral problems is recommended. This can be done by a trained professional to stop compulsive licking of lesions and wounds

Home Remedies for Lick Granulomas

Home remedies for lick granuloma are aimed at preventing the dog from licking the area. Other treatments may have to be carried out together with these remedies.

Lick Granuloma Bandage

Bandaging the affected area can give some degree of relief. It helps to break the lick cycle. This may only work for as long as the bandage is on since at this time it will lick on the bandaging as opposed to the skin. Use in the long run, it helps to give room for the leg to heal. Barbed wire wrapped in plaster casts could also serve the same purpose.

 Elizabethan Collar

An Elizabethan collar will help the dog keep off the lick granuloma lesion. This allows time for it to heal and protect it from getting activated all over again.

Lick Granuloma Natural Treatment Remedies

In case you are wondering how to heal and cure lick granulomas naturally, here is the solution. For their natural healing, herbs with an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties can be used. Such include:

Calendula

For skin lesions that are itchy and red, a calendula rinse can help to lick. It is rich in antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral properties. These make it effective in healing wounds. Add a handful of calendula flowers in a cup of hot water and allow it to cool. Use the resulting solution as a rinse on the affected area. Repeat this up to three times a day.

Green Tea

Green tea is a great natural remedy for wounds. It helps get rid of inflammation on dog skin. Tannic acid in it helps to dry up any wet wounds. Steep a green tea bag in a cup of hot water and allow it to cool. Apply this on the affected area. Repeat twice a day.

Yarrow Rinse for Treating Dog Lick Sores

For wounds that are oozing, have scabs and open scratches, a rinse made from equal parts of yarrow and calendula tea can help in relieving lick dermatitis in dogs.

Herbal Honey Acral Lick Granuloma Treatment

Honey is known to be a great remedy for skin conditions in dogs. It can be used as a home treatment for acral lick granuloma due to its antibacterial properties.

Lick Granuloma Prevention and Caring Tips

Once your dog has these lesions, it is important to keep them clean to prevent secondary infections. Also important is breaking the lick cycle. These can be achieved using the tips discussed below.

  • Keep the affected area clean always. Wash, sanitize and apply a topical antibiotic. Cover it up with a self-adhesive
  • For overall health and coat protection, feed your dog on a high-quality diet. For additional coat health, give fatty acid supplementation.
  • To prevent licking, practice flea, tick, and other external pets control. This will keep itch and lick away.
  • Where the lick granulomas are as a result of allergic reactions, stay away from the allergens. Try to keep your dog indoors when the pollen count is high.
  • To identify any skin infections that may be causing the lick cycle, talk to your veterinarian about having a skin scrape or biopsy conducted.
  • To kill boredom, engage your dog in various activities. Agility training can help in getting rid of pent-up emotion and relief stress thus eliminate the licking cycle.
  • Give plenty of chew toys and bones to your dog to keep them occupied for long periods. Pick their favorite ones for this to work.
  • If you can, get your dog another dog or pet to keep them company.

Lick granuloma resulting from simple causes is easy to heal. However, for chronic, infected and ulcerated skin sores that are caused by psychological compulsion, more aggressive forms of treatment are required. Talk to your vet if the wound and behavior do not seem to improve.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 336 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

4 Comments

  1. My Jack Russel mix has had a lick granuloma for a year now. It has enlarged and she will not leave it alone. My vet has given me an antibiotic spray that we use but I wish I could get it to heal. The vet also said that covering or bandaging it will just cause her to lick a new one in another area. I am at my wits end. I am home with her all day and, trust me she is not bored. I don’t think it’s any kind of allergy and I just don’t know what caused her to start in the first place. I will try some of your home remedies as the Dr. doesn’t seem to have any answers which is puzzling! Thanks for the help!

  2. I suspect that my dog’s lick granuloma may be due to pain from a hip problem. It seems that truprophen provides some relief. However, I do not know if a vet would confirm this.

  3. how about applying some unpleasant material to the granuloma like a pepper based material? There must be something that my dog would NOT like to eat. She is a Doberman six years old with a granuloma for about six months. Thanks for your help.

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