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Lab: reopens a wound on his paw..9 yrs old...licking

Customer Question

My Lab reopens a wound on his paw that has healed 4 different times over the past 8 months. He is 9 yrs old. After removing the halo he starts licking and knawing the area. The local Vets. have used topical creme, and antibiotics. Any suggestions?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Paw chewing and licking can be from a couple of different things including allergies and boredom.
If you have not checked into allergies you might consider it a possibility.
The chewing and licking actually releases seratonin type chemicals in the brain and makes the dog feel better even if he area he is licking is not the exact problem. Giving him other things to do and think about may help with this behavior if you can't find a physical cause.
I would consider doing some daily obedience or trick training with him (if you haven't played with clicker training it can be a lot of fun), giving him something interesting to work on like one of the toys that drops treats when they are rolled or moved around, giving him a really big bone to chew on and wear him out a little.
Up his directed exercise with games of fetch or longer daily walks (ask the vet for how much might be too much for a more senior dog).
Any time you see him working on the paw tell him no, give him a legal chew toy, and praise him to high heavens for chewing on that toy.
I resolved lick granulomas on 4 legs of a rescue dog using behavior modification techniques like this.
Do all the substitute behavior stuff while using the antibiotics etc.
But before you try all that you might want to see if allergy meds or allergy testing will resolve some of the problem.
Hope this helps!
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.

Many, many trick and treats have been tried in an attempt to keep the dog away from the skin lesion in order to allow it to heal.  Ya know what?  None of 'em work very well.  Such things as bandaging the entire leg (the dog will lick just  above any wrap or cast that is placed over the lesion) and applying nasty tasting stuff like Bitter Apple or Tabasco sauce doesn't work.   Barbed wire wrapped in plaster casts don't work.  Putting an Elizabethan collar on doesn't work well because as soon as it is removed the licking starts again and the dog will activate the lesion all over again.

Anti-anxiety drugs have been tried, too.  Very occasionally such medications as Prozac or Xanax might make a slight difference...but not enough dogs respond well to these to be able to call psychoactive medications a cure. Cortisone injections into and under the granuloma quiet them down and shrink them...for a while; then the dog starts licking again and the lesion becomes as big as ever.  Deadening cutaneous nerves has been tried, even Cobra venom was professed to have a cure rate of 90% way back in the early Seventies, and these methods have proven to be unsatisfactory.

We've got a real dermatology nightmare here!  Something makes the dog compulsively attracted to the granuloma and will start licking at a different place if it cannot get at the original lesion. 

Long term antbiotics seem to be the best long as three months may be required for significant improvement.  Cortisone topical creams rubbed into the lesion daily can help.  Topical medications that have multiple antibiotic/cortisone ingredients can help.  This is one disorder where the veterinarian preaches control or management of the skin problem since a cure is not now known.  Any little thorn, splinter, tick bite, scratch or infection over the wrist areas in the front legs and over the area lower down from the ankle in the rear legs can lead in a short time to an Acral Lick Granuloma.  So keep a close eye on these problem spots and at the first sign of persistent licking at one particular site, get some veterinary help as soon as possible.

Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if the dog or cat is consuming an optimum diet.  In some cases, adding a supplement such as DermCaps, a popular Omega Fatty Acid supplement with a number of beneficial ingredients, is the key factor in avoiding repeated episodes of Hot Spots and other skin afflictions.  If your dog or cat seems to lack good coat and skin health, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula and adding a supplement such as DermCaps.


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