Overview of Canine Lick Granuloma
Lick granuloma, also kown as acral lick dermatitis (ALD), Acral Lick Granuloma (ALG) or Acral Lick Furunculosis (ALF), is a common condition observed in large, active dogs in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed. These lesions are prone to infections, which make them itchier and itchier, which then leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of itching and licking. The term “acral” refers to the peripheral portion of an extremity.
Many underlying diseases are responsible for this condition. It could be caused by psychological and behavioral factor or by skin and internal diseases. Allergies, endocrine disease, parasitic, bacterial and fungal diseases may cause lick granulomas. Interestingly, allergy to flea bites may also be a cause. Aggressive flea control is recommended in flea-sensitive individuals. In other cases, a change in the environment, a stressful situation or a change in the work schedule of the owner could be the trigger.
Sometimes the granuloma occurs in an area of a previous trauma like a fracture and that may be triggered by an abnormal sensation in the skin. In other cases, the excessive licking may be a sign of pain. Arthritis may be evident in the underlying joint.
It is important that the underlying case is identified and addressed in order to resolve this frustrating condition.
Diagnosis of Lick Granuloma in Dogs
Diagnostic tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of lick granuloma and investigate the underlying cause in dogs. Tests may include:
Treatment of Lick Granuloma in Dogs
Treatment of canine lick granulomas may include:
In-Depth Information on Lick Granuloma in Dogs
This condition is also called Acral Lick Dermatitis (ALD). Large breed dogs are predisposed including Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, golden retrievers, Irish setters, Labrador retrievers, German short-haired pointers,Weimmaraners, shar peis, boxers and German shepherds. It seems to be more common in males (2:1 ratio), and it can start at any age, but most dogs are middle age or older (most > 5 years of age).
Carpal (wrist) or metacarpal areas are the most common sites. Possible underlying causes for lick granulomas are hypersensitivities to inhalants, food and fleas, demodicosis, hypothyroidism, dermatophytosis, pre-existing wounds or trauma, joint disease, staphylococcal pyoderma never properly addressed, psychogenic and neurogenic.
Boredom may be a significant factor to trigger the habit of licking, especially in large, active dogs. Lick granulomas are almost always secondarily infected at the time of presentation and the infection contributes to the pruritus thus a vicious cycle is created.
It has been reported that up to 70% of dogs with ALD have concurrent anxiety or fear based behavioral problems. These include separation anxiety and noise phobias)
Excessive licking may trigger the release of endorphins, which may have an analgesic effect thus raising the threshold of pain.