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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ASK THE VET: Help My Dog Stop Licking

by Jacki Bert, DVM
© Alan Boyko
Hot Spots are a Common Skin 
Problem for Many Dogs

Hello Dr. Jacki:

I have been told by a couple of vets that my dog may have something akin to OCD in humans. He cannot stop creating hotspots, and there seems to be no reason for them. We did allergy tests and tried many topical skin treatments. I spent a lot of money to get no help, but I do understand the doctor did his best.

The first time this diagnosis came from a doctor out of state. He suggested more exercise and that possibly Perkins is anxious. I guess exercise helps anxiety just like it does for humans. So I started him on a more vigorous walking regimen, even though he was 12 at that time. He is doing well physically even now, except that he is slower. I suppose I will be too when I am that age.

Anyway, the exercise didn't help. It is now two years later and my dog is still wearing a lampshade. He is pleasant, perky, friendly and easy going. No signs of anxiety except from fireworks. That really sets him off. Since Perkins shows no signs of leaving us yet, I'd like to try another suggestion. My poor vet is at a loss for words; I can't blame him. Can you offer any ideas?


Dear Agnes….sounds like an ordeal!!  If a full bloodwork panel was not run, then that would be the first place that I would start.  Also, were radiographs taken of the area where the ‘hot spot’ occurs?  Sometimes dogs and cats lick to ease a pain that is lying below the surface… arthritis. 

A true hot spot is an allergy of sorts and dogs can be allergic to the outside pollens, the food that they are on, and definitely to fleas.  If you have exhausted these considerations, I would suggest finding a veterinary dermatologist in your area and setting up an appointment.  Hot spots are treatable. 

If instead, it is a lick granuloma, then that can be different.  Still could be related to allergies or even to underlying arthritis but once the licking behavior starts, it doesn’t seem to stop.  Hence the obsessive compulsive diagnosis.  There are meds for this, but really it doesn’t hurt the animal, so it is best to occupy him as much as possible. Maybe even put a bitter tasting substance (bitter apple) on the bandage around the granuloma and keep your fingers crossed.  I hope it works!! 

Dr. Jacki, DVM
ASK THE VET on All Things Dog Blog
For more information on Dr. Jacki and her practice, you may find her at  4 Paws House Calls. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog and your specific questions.
Dr. Jacki's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian. 

Be sure to stop in at Critter Minute to read Carrie's latest guest post: Managing Your Multiple Dog Household. 

Also, Xena has some thoughts on Dr. Jacki's idea from this post, over at my dogs' blog,
 5 Minutes for Fido. Hope you can stop in for a visit.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Jacki for nearly a year of fine medical advice for our readers.  You can return and view her posts at any time. The link will always be available in the header or sidebar, with her archives there for your reading. 

Dr. Jacki's busy practice and growing family needs more attention now, so we bid her fond farewell. 

Watch for an introduction to your new ASK A VET Columnist, coming soon.


Hot Spots on Dogs said...

Having been around dogs all my life, it seems that the ones that get the sores have thick hair. Clean the spots up fast because they can spread quickly!

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