An acral (affecting a limb) lick granuloma is an open sore. Constant licking or grooming one area of the skin prevents healing. While it can affect any breed of dog, large breeds such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Dobermans seem more prone to lick granulomas.
Once thought to be psychogenic (mental rather than organic in origin), solely caused by boredom or stress, lick granulomas can be often due to itchy skin or mange, a bacterial or fungal infection, joint disease, trauma. The licking becomes habitual and sometimes causes more serious wounds.
The dog licks the area and in the process, rubs the fur off. The area eventually becomes a pinkish-red, shiny mass, thick and hard.
Treatment includes determining the underlying cause of the licking and treating the condition. Your veterinarian may use steroids, bandage the area, advise surgical removal, cryotherapy, acupuncture. If there is a secondary infection, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Lasers have been used successfully removing the diseased tissue and sealing the nerve endings. Using a laser also keeps bleeding to a minimum.
As lick granulomas can be one of the most difficult conditions to treat, behavior modification may be recommended. Your dog may require more exercise and/or interaction with you. If left alone often, your dog may need the company of another dog to overcome stress or boredom. If the problem worsens, it might be a good idea to consult an animal behaviorist if there is no underlying medical cause.