Alternately known as acral lick dermatitis, lick granuloma is a skin condition that affects pets. While lick granulomas sometimes occur in cats, they are primarily seen in dogs. They occur when a dog has a strong urge to lick itself compulsively. This licking is usually isolated to the lower part of one of the animal’s legs, and over time, it results in the formation of a thick, plaque-covered lesion.
While lick granulomas themselves are not harmful to your pet’s health, they often signify the presence of underlying physical, psychological, or emotional stress that should be addressed as part of your treatment plan. It is also possible for the lesion to become infected with bacteria, or for an abscess to develop in the adjacent internal tissues.
Symptoms and Causes of Lick Granuloma in Dogs
When it comes to lick granulomas, the causes and symptoms are often interrelated and should be considered together. There is no consensus among veterinarians as to the underlying cause of lick granulomas, but various theories have been forwarded (note: treatment options are listed after the 7 causes and symptoms below):
Possible Cause: Boredom
Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time are thought to be more likely to engage in the compulsive licking behavior that causes lick granulomas. Some veterinarians believe that lick granulomas are more likely to develop in active dogs that lack adequate outlets or releases for their energy, while others think that dogs take to licking themselves simply as a way to pass the time. One prevailing theory is that this licking behavior is a kind of canine form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, while another posits that the licking releases endorphins, causing your dog to become “addicted” to the behavior.