My Dog Has Lick Granulomas, Is This Serious?
Has your dog been diagnosed with lick granulomas, or have you noticed this condition occurring in your pet? Do you find yourself worrying more and more about your pet’s health and wellness because of this problem? Are lick granulomas serious, or are they nothing to worry about?
In the article below, you’ll find a breakdown of more information regarding lick granulomas. You can use this general guide to get a better understanding of this problem in your pet, and you can refer to it when you need to organize your thoughts and develop questions to ask your vet as well.
What is a Lick Granuloma and What Does it Look Like?
“Lick granuloma” is another name for a condition known as acral lick dermatitis. Although the term “granuloma” may make the condition sound as serious as some types of cancer, it is important to note that this problem is not actually a cancer itself. However, it is an abnormal growth, which is why the name sounds very similar.
Lick granulomas look like large, open sores on a dog’s body. The hair is typically missing from the area, and the granuloma may be bloody and oozing in many instances. Sometimes, it may scab over and create a thick, scaly scab that grows on top of the dog’s skin and remains hairless as well. When these wounds are open, they are breeding grounds for bacteria, so they can become potentially more hazardous the longer they go untreated.
What Causes a Lick Granuloma?
Lick granulomas occur when dogs obsessively lick a specific spot on the body for any number of reasons. The most common locations for lick granulomas are the legs and feet, but they can occur anywhere your dog can reach on their own body. Some dogs lick obsessively because they are anxious or scared, or because they have depression or lack stimulation in their lives. Other dogs may lick obsessively because they are in pain or itching in a specific location on the body.
The cycle of licking, creating an open wound, and then licking the open wound continues until the lick granuloma is completely healed, which can take a very long time depending on the underlying cause and your dog’s level of licking.
Diagnosing Lick Granulomas in Dogs
Your veterinarian will first examine the lick granuloma visibly to see what it looks like. In many cases, this problem is so obvious that vets do not require any further testing to diagnose it. However, some vets may also want X-rays of the joint and surrounding bone to determine if there is a cause for your dog to be in pain. If your dog is at a risk of skin tumors already or if your vet is overly concerned about the appearance of the granuloma, your pet may need a biopsy of the skin to rule out the potential for cancer.
Lick Granuloma Treatment Options
Your vet will probably give your dog topical steroids to treat the condition at its source. However, since dogs are prone to licking off medication when applied to the skin, your vet may prefer to give your pet oral steroids instead. Dogs with lick granulomas that seem to be caused by anxiety and depression need to be put on an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication as well. Your vet will probably give your dog a round of antibiotics to prevent the open wound from becoming infected while it heals. Finally, although your dog may not be very happy about it, they will probably need to wear an E-collar while healing, to prevent further licking and chewing.
What is the Prognosis, and is a Lick Granuloma Ever Serious?
The prognosis for lick granulomas is typically very good. As long as you follow your vet’s advice and keep up with your pet’s treatment and management needs, you will likely see the problem clear up within a few weeks. With that said, however, you will also need to make sure you pay attention to your dog’s health and wellness moving forward. If they begin to show signs of licking a specific location on their body again, take them back to the vet for more assistance.
Boston Veterinary Clinic Can Help Your Dog with Lick Granulomas
Lick granulomas are not that serious, but they can be painful depending on where they’re located on your dog’s body. Additionally, it is important to have them treated so they do not worsen with time. Although most dogs can go about their normal lives without paying much heed to lick granulomas, others may need more intense treatment to recover from them.
Your vet can give you more specific information about your individual dog’s needs. Remember that every dog and situation is different, so it’s important to work with your trusted Boston Veterinary Clinic team when treating your pet. Book an appointment online today!