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Lick Granuloma in Dogs

A tan dog licks its paw while laying on a cement floor

Does your dog constantly sit and lick a certain spot on their body or leg? You may notice small sores start to develop in these areas. These areas are called a lick granuloma and cause your dog to excessively licking themselves in a certain spot. These are usually harmless spots on your dog, but they can cause a few issues.  

There are many things that you can do to help stop your dog from licking at these spots, and these areas to fully heal.

What is lick granuloma in dogs? 

A lick granuloma is a spot on your dog that your dog is constantly licking at.  These spots usually look perfectly normal at first, and as your dog continues to lick and bite at these spots can cause them to have an infected area.  

A lick granuloma is also known as “acral lick dermatitis.”  These usually occur on the lower leg, usually to the point where a sore appears and starts to bleed. This condition can be both physical and psychological in nature, make it very difficult to diagnose in some cases.

Causes of lick granuloma in dogs 

There are many different reasons that your dog may have a lick granuloma.  These reasons can be broken down into two main categories:

Physical Causes:

  • Allergic reactions: If your dog has an allergic reaction, they can develop a lick granuloma. These allergies can come from external environmental components like grass, as well as food. This can cause your dog’s skin to develop itchy spots. Your dog will constantly lick and bite these spots until a lick granuloma develop.
  • A wound: If your dog has a wound on their skin, this can lead to a lick granuloma. This wound can become infected and can lead to discomfort and itching. If your dog constantly licks this area, it can form a lick granuloma. These can commonly occur after surgery and will commonly lead to your dog having to wear a cone of shame.  
  • Skin Trauma: If your dog has a small cut or puncture, they may lick a certain area to help keep it clean or lick stitches after they have had surgery. This area can form a lick granuloma.  
  • Joint pain: If your dog has joint pain or arthritis in a lower leg, they may lick this area until they get a lick granuloma. The excessive licking will lead to an infected area, which can cause a lick granuloma to develop over the sore spot.

Psychological Causes:

  • Anxiety: if your dog has anxiety from a change in their environment, separation anxiety from being away from a favorite loved one, or any other forms of stress, it can cause excessive licking. This licking is a way for them to calm their selves down and help relives their anxiety, but it can lead to a lick granuloma.  
  • Lack of exercise: The lack of proper exercise will create destructive behavior in your dog and may lead to not only damaged property but also issues like licking, panting, and pacing. If your dog continues to lick their feet or legs, they can easily and quickly develop a lick granuloma

Diagnosis and treatment 

If you notice any sores on your dog’s leg, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. They will want to discuss several things, from the home environment and the owner’s interactions with the dogs.  

They will also want to fully examine your dog as well as run some diagnostic tests such as blood work, x-rays, and cytology of these areas. This will help figure out if this is a lick granuloma or something more serious.  

The treatment for a lick granuloma will be different depending on what is causing these issues. Many times, your dog will end up wearing a cone of shame. You will have to break the itch lick cycle and allow this spot to heal.

There are many things, such as arthritis medication, topical medications, and laser therapy, that can be used to help decrease the itch cycle. Many times, topical ointments and oral medications are uses.  

For your dog’s comfort, you can try topical applications of various ointments such as CBD oil and coconut oil. These are highly recommended over the counter products that you can use to easily treat a lick granuloma at home.

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Prognosis of Lick Granuloma

While your dog having a lick granuloma will not be deadly, it can be a headache that you have to deal with for a long time. Many dogs will need lifelong therapy and treatment for these issues. Lick granulomas can be very time consuming to constantly have to treat and can cause other skin issues that would require your dog to constantly see your vet. By being aggressive with treatment early, your dog can quickly and easily recover from a lick granuloma

Lick granulomas can be very frustrating to treat. By looking for early warning signs that your dog has an issue is the best way. Once you have determined what is causing the lick granuloma, you can quickly and easily start your dog on a treatment. Many times, using ointment or CBD oils to these areas will quickly and easily stop your dog from licking their legs and allow these areas to fully heal. With time and consistent treatment, your dog can quickly return to their normal healthy, and happy life.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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