What is the definition of lick granuloma as it relates to a compulsive behavior in dogs?

Lick Granuloma is excessive paw licking or chewing. Although frequently caused by infection, it is also often a behavioral issue caused by stress or boredom.

Here’s exactly how stress is connected to lick granuloma: Stress increases blood levels of cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone), which raises blood pressure, heart rate and prepares your dog for the appropriate response. In small amounts, cortisol can be a good thing. But when it’s released relentlessly, it will disrupt normal functioning of your dog’s immune system, either allowing normal levels of bacteria to get out of control, or causing your dog’s body to over-react to normal irritants, resulting in an allergic response. In effect, your dog’s immune system has turned on itself. This same feedback loop is believed to be related to dozens of other disorders such as eczema, asthma, arthritis, heart disease, even tartar build up on your dog’s teeth.

Emotional stress may also cause your dog to deal with nervousness or depression by exhibiting a number of behavioral responses, including obsessive licking or paw chewing. A major component to any treatment program must include eliminating or decreasing stress, and finding other ways for your dog to expend energy and lower her cortisol levels.

If you think your dog has lick granuloma, you should:

• Take her to the veterinarian for diagnosis. This may include skin tests and biopsies. Your vet will recommend a treatment plan for your dog that may include antibiotics and topical medications and collars, since it’s important that your dog not have access to the affected area.
• Engage in regular exercise, play, extra attention: If it’s caused by a behavioral issue resulting in boredom, giving your dog plenty of exercise and attention can discourage this behavior.
• Conduct training sessions: It provides intellectual stimulation and she was genetically selected to want to please you. Your dog will do anything for you and feel good about herself for learning more ways to make you happy, or earn her a hug or a treat.

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