All dogs love to lick and it is a very common occurrence in any dog. However, what is not common is excessive licking.
Excessive licking in dogs has several potential causes including boredom and behavioral problems, which can result in injury as well as inflammation in your dogs skin. However, when licking does become excessive, it will often lead to your dog scratching the same areas, and if it is severe, they will also start to actually bite themselves.
Excessive licking by your dog can be a behavioral problem or it can be boredom, but in most all cases it is the result of some underlying cause that is either a developing threat to your dog, or has already developed and the excessive licking is the first signs. These are signs that you need to take very seriously, and if you catch them early enough, it can stop what may be a very damaging condition in your pet.
Lick granuloma, also known as Acral lick dermatitis, or ALD, is a common condition that occurs in large and very active dogs. It will usually affect their front legs, and it causes your dog to lick with such excess that they will very rapidly develop firm ulcerated lesions. It is believed to be the result of stress or boredom in your dog, and seems to occur most often when a new member enters your household.
However, there is also several underlying disease that may be the actual cause. It may be the result of an endocrine disease, or a parasite, bacterial, or fungal infection of some type. Allergies may also be the cause, and as interesting as this may sound, most of these allergies may be the result of fleas and it is an allergic reaction by your dog to the flea bite. If this is the cause, a very aggressive flea control program in your dog will correct this condition very rapidly.
Allergic and Irritant Contact Dermatitis:
Excessive licking with this condition is caused when your dog has an allergic reaction to some type of an antibiotic that their skin has been exposed to, or by some type of material that they have come into contact with. The most common causes include the mineral nickel, and materials such as rubber, wool, or plastic. It may also be caused by chemicals or dyes that are commonly found in carpet deodorizers.
With this condition, your dog will lick gradually, and within a few short hours they be licking excessively. Once this occurs, you will see red skin as well as bumps or blisters appear on areas of your dogs body where there is very little hair. To properly diagnose contact dermatitis, your veterinarian will run both patch tests as well as exclusion trials. Once identified, you will need to keep the irritant out of your dogs environment as it can reoccur very rapidly.
Atopy is an allergic reaction that your dog has by breathing some type of an airborne allergen. In almost every case, the first sign that you see is your dog very suddenly licking their feet. It will not be a gradual lick, as it will become excessive almost overnight. Once this occurs, their ears will also become inflamed and the itching will start. This itching can lead very easily to hot spots on your dog, but it all starts with the licking of their feet.
The most effective treatments for this condition are biotin or fatty acid supplements in your dogs diet, as well as antihistamines to combat the histamine that is being released by your dogs immune system. Topical shampoos may also be utilized.
Excessive licking may also be caused by a food allergy, which is one of the most frustrating conditions to try to figure out for an owner. Food allergies may explode as the result of an allergenic reaction that has built up over several weeks or months, or it may be the result of something your dog has eaten in the last 24 hours. This allergy also starts with licking of the feet, and it will show the same itching and redness as atopy.
There is no easy way to cure this condition other than by trial and error, and it may take several weeks to actually find which food has affected your dog. Once this does occur, you will want to totally eliminate treats as well as any table scraps as they are most often the cause.
Acute Moist Dermatitis:
This form of licking has another name that can stop the heart of dog owners; hot spots. Hot spots are the result of general allergies, flea bites, ear infections, or something that surprises most owner, burrs or plant awns. However, it can also be caused by anal gland disease if you do not have your dogs glands cleaned in regular treatments or clean them your selves.
It results in hair loss that is caused by very moist and oozing skin, but it is always starts with a gradual licking that will then develop into a excessive licking that seems to be the only thing your dog does. They will lick almost none stop in some cases. Topical treatments or oral antibiotics and steroids will generally be used to stop this excessive licking in your dog.
Preventing excessive licking in dogs can be both frustrating as well as very challenging. But it has to be stopped, the underlying cause diagnosed, and than treated. But there are some other things you might want to try before all this can be done. You can place very small amounts of cayenne pepper or lemon juice to the area where your dog is licking, and this will usually stop it.
If it doe not, place a small amount of Tabasco sauce on the area, as this will work even in the most difficult of cases. If you have a smaller dog, Elizabethan collars are also very effective. Licking in your dog is a very natural occurrence, but excessive licking is not. Once you see the signs, take it very seriously, as scratching and biting is usually the next step that your dog takes.
I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process. Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website; Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets http://www.liquid-vitamins-minerals-humans-pets.com.