Dutch is a 4yr altered male Old English Bulldog. Small for his breed, but perfect size for us. He's always been a bit...different. DH got him as a very small puppy about two months before we started dating, and he essentially came from a puppy mill (Poor DH didn't realize what was going on until much later). He was the last puppy in the litter, and was discounted significantly, which leads me to believe they had reasons. But anyway.
He is super attached to DH, who has been away for three weeks for training, and will be deploying in January for 6-9 months. He turns his attachment to me, which is fine, WHEN I'm here. He's not a Velcro dog; he's perfectly happy to lay on his bed while I watch TV, or snooze by the front door.
We also have a 3yr female GSD. They are completely attached at the hip. Think "Red Fern Grows" style.
Several weeks before DH left, we noticed what appeared to be a cut on Dutch's front leg, which he was constantly licking. We applied ointment, Irish Spring soap, no-chew, duct tape, gauze with electrical tape, and Vetricyn to try and get him to stop licking his damn leg. Pretty much nothing worked because he would lay in the yard all day while we were at work, licking his leg or chewing his redneck bandage off. I started taking both dogs to work with me (local horse farm) and the activity distracted him long enough for it to heal. YAY!
Last weekend I was gone, Th-Sun at a horse show, and had friends and neighbors keeping an eye on the dogs, stopping in to feed and play, etc. I get home, and there is a bald spot on a back leg now. It resembled a bite mark, and since the dogs play rough I didn't think much about it. Until I caught him licking it about ten minutes ago. I know it's a bald spot caused from him licking constantly. He has had licking issues since day one, mostly on his front legs, but never to this extent. I'm at a loss as to what to do. No chew sprays do nothing; he licks until they are gone (watched him do it). I take them to work with me most days, but I'm not able to be with him 24/7 to monitor the behavior.
Suggestions? Experiences? I'm about to buy an inflatable collar, or even a floatie, to keep him from licking himself raw. Given how hard they play, I bet it would last five minutes. Just SUPER frustrated right now, and looking for help.
This can be complusive behaviour and very hard to stop. I have an English setter with lick granulomas. There's basically nothing the vet can recommend. His experience is if you srugically remove it, the dog just keeps on licking it. If you bandage it, the dog finds another place to lick. It's just not a behaviour you want to become rooted.
I had a simular issue with a kitty that licked herself to the point that she had sores. It seemed to be a compulsive behavior. We battled this for a very very long time with many trips to the vet. Vet told me she likely had some disease. Anyway, we HAD to treat the sores. So, we held her little belly over the sink and poured hydrogen peroxide on her sores. Her entire belly was bald..just an FYI. with some nasty raw sores from constant licking. We were quite surprised and pleased when after the first application, she stopped licking it. We think the taste left by the peroxide dissuaded her. She healed up, stopped licking and vet was amazed. Lived to age 22
One of my customers has a dog doing this-they've done everything they can think of, including the food changes. The dog had a weed seed between her toe pads; vet removed the seed but the behavior stuck. She's on the verge of getting her foot amputated now b/c of it and they still can't stop her. I'd love to hear any ideas that work. We have thought about Red/Blue Kote just b/c it tastes so terrible but it's an inside dog...
For years - at least three years - Shadow had a lick granuloma on his front leg. No idea why it started, but there was absolutely NO WAY to get him to leave it alone. The vet said, if it's not getting infected, then just leave him be. About a year or so ago, he lost all interest in it and it's gone away completely.
All this is to say, if it's not getting infected, then don't worry about it too much. It is a strange behavior, no doubt. It would be nice to know *why* they do it!
I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry
It is definitely not an allergy. He has been on numerous foods in the past four years, and he's licked (to a lesser extent) on all of them, and in different parts of the country. This is definitely a compulsive habit, and I'll be damned if I didn't just tell him to knock it off ten seconds ago.
Thanks for the advice. They have toys and things to chew on, 99% of which get ignored completely. I even bought them the fancy (expensive) deer antler chews, and both turned up their noses. He gets exercised, and has social time with other dogs, so he has a well-rounded life. I would like to walk with them more often, but my crazy hours puts a damper on that, which is why I'm so grateful I can bring them to work with me.
Looks like I'll have a bald-legged Bulldog for awhile then!
We have a dog who does that for no apparent reason, and he wears one of those cone-shaped Elizabethan collars when we are not around. The vet suggested it. Collars are available at PetSmart, etc. Make sure the cone is large enough to prevent his mouth from getting to wherever he wants to lick/chew/eat, and make sure he can drink while wearing it. We had to elevate the water bowl so he could lower his cone around it and drink. Good luck!
I use a vet for acupuncture and holistic type stuff for my horses. She is fully licensed (as a "western medicine" vet, I think she graduated from CSU) and used to have a regular practice. She had a client with a very reactive deaf/blind dog with a handful of neurosis, one of which was licking his front legs to the point of large sores. They tried EVERYTHING for this dog and nothing worked, and treating him was difficult due to his deaf/blind issue.
As a total last ditch, why the hell not effort, they tried laser therapy. My vet used a standard laser pointer thing that you can get at any office or pet store. She used the laser on the sores several times a week for 15-20 minutes, maybe?
Shockingly, they healed. NOTHING else was changed. Totally not the result anyone expected after months and months and months of no improvement. But, hell, cheap and non invasive. Might be worth a go for your guy?
A diluted solution of Tea Tree Oil worked for me to stop a GSD from chewing himself. I have used it on other dogs with success. I think I got a little bottle at Walmart. It only takes a small amount mixed with water in a spray bottle to do the trick. Tea Tree Oil also has a soothing effect on the skin.
I know a few folks who have had success with prozac (which I believe has now been renamed & possibly reformulated for canines?) for dogs with anxiety issues such as this. Perhaps worth a try if you're approaching the point where granulomas could develop & become infected.
^ What Rubyfree said. Also try Clomicalm. Most vets are not well-versed in behavioral medicine (and thus not readily inclined to prescribe psych drugs) but it is becoming more and more accepted and understood. Lick granulomas are basically the result of OCD.
Try acupuncture. My local vet/ certified acupuncturist has had good results with licking problems. Takes at least 3 treatments. I think the specific treatment is called circling the dragon or dragon circle where she inserts needles around the spot.
Good luck with it and please post if any of the ideas works. We'd all love to know.
I would look into allergy issues. You said he was on multiple types of food, but that doesn't mean there are not food issues--did you try him on grain free, different proteins, etc.? Dogs can also become allergic to ingredients in foods they have been on for long periods of time. Living in different parts of the country does not mean there are not allergy issues either--some dogs are allergic to things that could exist most anywhere (e.g., types of grasses, weeds, mold).
Cone of shame to break the habit. An allergist to look into the allergy issue. Some dogs have OCD with licking, but since that's harder to treat, I would look harder into allergies first. Don't forget that environmental allergies are much more common than food allergies, and need to be treated differently. Changing the food won't work if the dog's allergic to pollen or dust.
Could he have mange? One of our dogs had terrible itching before we realized she had mange and started her on ivermectin. She also seems to have a corn allergy, and gets itchy unless she is on a no corn food such as Taste of the Wild.
It's not an environmental allergy...we have lived in central IL, South Dakota, Virginia, and now SoCal and he has had the same problems. I firmly believe it is OCD and has escalated to the granuloma stage because of stress from DH being gone for an extended period of time and me being gone for four days. He does not have mange, fleas, or ticks.
He has been on food from Purina O.N.E. to grain-free Blue with no different results other than price tag. They are currently on Nutro Lamb & Rice because its the only food that makes a difference in our GSD's dry skin. He is a good, healthy weight and gets exercise. I've never caught him laying down at the barn where I work, licking his leg. I've only caught him when he's laying on his bed at night, with nothing else to do because the dummy ignores his chew treats.
I'll start with the Tea Tree Oil suggestion, then into doggie prozac. DH is deploying in January for several months, so I'm thinking that will be a big help in Dutch coping with him being gone for so long.
Years ago my Min. Schnauzer licked her paws when resting, and the second I changed from Milk Bone dog biscuits to another brand she stopped. I really mean within 24 hours. I certainly felt guilty about that one.
But since you've changed treats, and chews as well as foods, then I suspect you're right and it's a stress thing. I think any kind of skin problem or allergy would have been diagnosed by now, and that what's left is the stress issue. I hope the tea tree oil or prozac works.