Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi there Yvonne, this is called an Acral Lick Granuloma. There seem to be multiple causes of this ranging from:-
a. Boredom and frustration – not enough walks and mental stimulation and the licking helps to pass the time.
b. Stress – could be due to changes in home environment – we do not always realize how much this impacts on our dogs – even a new addition, or illness in family can start this off. What is hard to understand is that this behaviour, serves to actually calm the dog down as well, making it more difficult to stop. Plus, if we shout at dog while doing it, this can actually reinformce the behaviour. Attention to a dog is attention, whether negative or positive.
c. Dogs that already have a degree of separation anxiety often revert to this behaviour.
d. Could be allergy related.
e. A foreign body, such as a spinter of wood, thorn etc, could be embedded under the skin.
f. Could also be an indication of a sore bone or joint under the area being licked. The licking also helps to comfort the dog.
g. From a medical point of view, Hypothryoidism can play a part.
What I would honestly suggest is taking the dog to the vet for a full check up and also see if any of the above points apply and then take action accordingly. When one looks at a behaviour a dog is exhibiting, you always need to find the ‘root’ cause for the behaviour and then address thi.
Very often vets will resort to the dog wearing an Elizabethan collar to give the wound a time to heal. Some vets isolate the area by bandaging it, but unless the root cause of the behaviour is discovered and attended too, this often results in the dog starting to lick on the other leg instead! Thanks Scotty
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