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Curbing dog's anxiety may lick the medical problem

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By John Ross
Sunday, March 4, 2001
 

Dear Dog Talk: I am writing to you for help with my Brittany. He has what the veterinarian calls lick granuloma on his left front leg. Nothing that this veterinarian or any other vets have suggested has worked.

I thought maybe you have had some experience with this dreadful problem and can offer me some advice on getting him to stop licking the area and allow it to heal. I have three other Brittanys, and he is the only one with this problem.

Dear Licked 'til it Hurts: I don't know what the veterinarians have suggested to you. While this condition is truly more of a medical problem, there is an aspect of it that has to do with training.

In one of my favorite reference books, 'Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook,' by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M. and James M. Griffin, M.D., the authors discuss lick sores, which are also referred to as 'boredom sores.' The authors explain that these sores can occur in dogs left alone for long periods, without company or something to interest them. They also point out that this condition is common among bird dogs, which include the Brittany.

To get even more information, I had a telephone consultation with my longtime friend and medical adviser, Dr. Chuck Noonan. Known as the 'Animal Doctor' of Weston, Conn., Noonan agreed that boredom and anxiety are most often the reasons that dogs begin licking their legs or feet. He also explained that two other factors complicate the condition. One is that bacteria often infect the sore. The other is that by constantly licking, the dog sometimes pushes hair follicles into the sore, creating 'hair splinters.' This also can cause infection.

Noonan said that he sometimes finds lick granuloma an extremely challenging condition. He attacks it in various ways, including treating the infection with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. But unless you can stop the dog from the licking the sore, it will never heal. In order to do this he suggests an Elizabethan collar, a bandage and sometimes even a basket muzzle.

In more extreme cases, Noonan has prescribed anti-depressant drugs in order to curb the dog's anxiety. He also recommends vigorous exercise along with a 15-minute daily obedience training session. He said that once the sore is healed, regular exercise and training could even eliminate the need for the anti-depressant drugs.

Mention these ideas to your veterinarian. Perhaps there's something here that he or she has not tried. I hope you can lick this problem.

Dear Dog Talk: I have a question regarding my two collies and my very muddy back yard. Because Prancer and Cinnamon love to chase each other in the back yard, there is very little grass remaining intact. What I am left with, especially this time of year, is mud.

I have put down some wood shavings in the really bad areas, but even with this, they roll in it and track it into the house. Someone suggested fine gravel, but wouldn't that hurt their paws• Grass just isn't durable enough for this duo. Mulch would get stuck between their paws, I think. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Grass-less: I've had many dogs and many torn-up, muddy back yards over the years - but never a great solution for this problem. I think that the guy who writes the weekly landscaping column in your newspaper might be more qualified to answer this question. I can only help you train your dogs to wipe their feet at the back door before they come in (only kidding)!

One thing that you might investigate is 'pea stone.' I know that many kennels use it, and it does not seem to bother dogs' feet. Rolling out sod might work, too. It seems to me that a thick, healthy 'prefab' lawn, with good drainage, could stand up to your dogs' rompings - but only your landscaper will know for sure. He's really the professional to call for this problem.

John Ross writes the Dog Talk column for the Tribune-Review. He has been training dogs professionally for more than 25 years. He is the author of 'Puppy Preschool: Raising Your Puppy Right - Right from the Start!,' 'Dog Talk: Training Your Dog Through a Canine Point of View,' and 'Why Does My Dog Drink Out of the Toilet• - Answers and Advice for All Kinds of Dog Dilemmas,' all published by St. Martin's Press. The books are available in all major bookstores. You can mail your questions to John Ross at P.O. Box 1062, Norwich, VT 05055 or e-mail Ross at dogtalk@nantucket.net'>'>HREF='mailto:dogtalk@nantucket.net'> dogtalk@nantucket.net .

 

 
 


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