Dog disease: Acral lick dermatitis in dogs

Dog disease: Acral lick dermatitis in dogs

Acral lick dermatitis in dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Acral lick dermatitis in dogs is a condition brought by the pet himself when he excessively licks a portion of the skin.  It is the result of chronic or compulsive licking. Also known as lick granuloma, it usually causes skin inflammation which will eventually lead to skin thickening.  At least half of the cases of acral lick dermatitis (ALD) are associated with anxiety-based behaviors such as separation anxiety or noise phobia.

What causes acral lick dermatitis in dogs?

The disease is more common in middle-aged or very large dogs.  This does not mean, however, that it cannot be acquired by any other dog, small or young.  There are several reasons why a dog acquires ALD.

Some believe that the licking stimulates the production of endorphins, which provides the sensation of well-being.  The dog will soon associate this sensation of pleasure with excessive licking.  There can be, of course, another cause for licking such as ticks, mites, arthritis, trauma, or some neurological disease.  

Experts attribute acral lick dermatitis in dogs to some psychological factors too.  These include boredom, separation anxiety, and stress.

What are the symptoms of acral lick dermatitis?

Before making a diagnosis, it is important to determine what is the cause of excessive licking in your dog.  You must first note that your dog is licking excessively on a given portion of his skin.  This part of the skin becomes thick, red, and irritated.  It is also important to keep track of the times that your dog started licking and how often.  The veterinarian will probably ask this question before starting treatment.

What is the treatment if my dog has acral lick dermatitis?

Unfortunately, acral lick dermatitis in dogs is pretty difficult to treat.  It will usually take from 6 to 12 weeks for it to completely heal if a bacterial or fungal infection is causing it. This is why it is important to take your pet to the vet as soon as you see any abnormal licking behavior.

The most challenging part of the treatment probably has to do with dealing with the underlying psychological cause of the behavior.  Usually, the veterinarian will use a mechanical method to avoid the constant licking.  These methods might include a muzzle, a special collar, or bandage.

The veterinarian will usually start with antibiotics, oral corticosteroids, and a mechanical or topical barrier.  This deterrent barrier is not with the purpose of healing the condition but to allow the medication to make an effect on the patient.

In Dogalize we love pets as much as you do. This is why we have updated information on how to better care for your dog and avoid him getting infected with conditions such as acral lick dermatitis in dogs.