There are many different reasons why a dog would want to lick their paws. Allergies, injury, arthritis, etc. After trying to deal with my own dog's obsessive licking habits, I began to wonder if she could have OCD. OCD is short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is generally a condition that is attributed to humans.
|Photo via Sarah J.|
Can Dogs Have OCD?During my vet tech days, I learned that it may be possible for dogs to have OCD. Although in dogs, it is called "Compulsive Disorders". According to PetMD, Dog Compulsive Disorders are behaviors of a dog that are exaggerations of normal dog behaviors. Dogs exhibit these behaviors for longer amounts of time and the behaviors are repeated out of context for a situation.
So, yes - this sort of thing really does exist and it's usually behavior related. Perhaps caused by anxiety, stress, boredom or maybe even frustration. One of the most common things a dog with a Compulsive Disorder will do is lick themselves. And in many cases, this excessive licking can cause self-trauma. I've seen many dogs give themselves a "Lick Granuloma" this way.
What I Know About Lick Granulomas on Dogs
Lick Granulomas are hard to "cure". In fact, the article about Lick Granulomas on PetMD is titled "Acral Lick Granuloma: A Dermatology Nightmare". There are so many different treatment methods and options, but it usually takes more than one try to fix the problem from my experience. And sometimes it can take several weeks or months.
|A Lick Granuloma on a dog's paw.|
Every dog is different, so I think this may be why lick granulomas are such a hard ailment to fix. And not every dog will be licking obsessively due to a Compulsive Disorder. The cause of these lick granulomas could be caused by any number of things. Here's a list:
- Allergies. Some dogs are allergic to grass and/or pollen which causes itchy skin.
- Separation Anxiety. A lot of dogs experience separation anxiety when their owners are away. Some find it comforting to lick themselves excessively.
- Boredom. A dog can easily get bored home alone for extended periods of time. It's best to avoid this situation, but if not possible you can offer your dog something to do while you aren't at home.
- Foreign Body. A tiny splinter or thorn could have gotten stuck in your dog's paw, causing them discomfort and leaving them wanting to constantly lick that area.
- Arthritis. Senior dogs can get arthritis which causes discomfort, commonly in the feet and legs.
Things You Can Try at Home for Lick Granulomas
First of all, you should take your dog to the vet and get them checked out first. The tips I'm going to share here are just simple things you can try at at home for lick granulomas once you've completely gotten tired of listening to your dog's slurping noises. It's not fun, but you do really start to feel bad for them and want to help.
- Wipe your dog's paws down with a damp cloth after going outside. This might help remove some of the allergens they've picked up outside.
- Feed your dog good food that they aren't allergic to. Dogs can be allergic to ingredients like chicken or grains in their food which can cause itchy skin.
- Don't leave your dog home alone for extended periods of time. If you can help it. And if you have to...
- Give your dog something to do while they are alone. Give your dog a toy or stuff and freeze a KONG. Feed them out of a puzzle feeder. Hide treats around the house. Leave a radio or TV on for them to watch and listen to.
- Be active with your dog. Your dog can get bored while you're at home too. Make sure you play with your dog and are active with them.
- If all else fails, you can try to physically restrict their licking. Some people might need to resort to some sort of E-Collar (Elizabethean collar or cone) or dog booties so that a dog just isn't able to lick themselves.
Thankfully, my dog's Lick Granulomas finally went away and she doesn't have them anymore. This was several years ago, by the way. She still likes to chew and bite her nails every now and then, but this behavior has dramatically decreased.
I just wanted to share a little about this topic because I don't think many people know what they are in for when they first notice the problem. It's easy to become frustrated with your vet with this kind of diagnosis, but just know that it's almost never easy. Hopefully, these tips can help someone. I'd love to know your own experiences with dog lick granulomas as well - feel free to share in the comments!