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shelbysdad2 November 18th, 2009 04:40 PM

Dog constantly licking her leg raw
My Dog Shelby is a 11year old Lab/Shep mix. She has now for quite awhile been licking her leg in the same spot until it bleeds. I have taken her to the vet numerous times to correct this with no avail. Allergy meds, Anti-Inflammatory's, Steroids, Topical Creams.... nothing seems to work...

Please, can anyone help?!


Equla November 18th, 2009 06:32 PM

My cat used to do this. He seems to be allergic to a bunch of things and we don't have the dough at the moment to do an allergy test (if they even do that for cats). Anyway, we changed his food to an allergy formula and kind of had to wait out the healing of the hot spot on his neck.

I don't know if you have PETCO in your area, but I'm sure that any large pet supply store would stock just about the same things. Try an organic grain free food (I use Natural Balance, but there are a lot of different ones) and pick up some cast gauze (the stuff they wrap around an IV in the vet's office). Put some hot spot ointment (can get this at the supply store too) on the affected area and wrap the gauze around it. Hopefully this will deter from licking the area and let it heal. From there, try different foods and see which one keeps the symptoms from coming back. It'll take a little while to find the right food because changing them has to be gradual. We got lucky on the first try.

Casey (allergic cat) still has flare ups every once in a while, but not badly enough to cause him to lick obsessively. The hardest part was getting that big spot on his neck to heal. Because it was basically an open wound to him, and probably itched from being raw, he kept licking it. Just gotta keep him off of it. Oooh! If the dog keeps chewing on the bandage, spray Bitter Apple on it. Only do this if the dog is chewing on it. They really hate the smell and probably won't want it on them... only a last resort.

Hope this helps. Good luck and keep us posted on the progress.

bendyfoot November 18th, 2009 06:40 PM

if medical issues have been ruled out, it's very possible that it's purely psychological (canine acral lick dermatitis, which I affectionately call "crazy licking")...possible causes can be stress, boredom, or pure habit/obsession. We have a dog who will lick her legs raw if not monitored closely. We say 'Gracie, stop licking" probably a dozen times a day if not more. It escalates when she's stressed. In our experience the only thing you can do is monitor, distract the behaviour as soon as it starts, and try to keep the skin from getting to the point where it's raw, because once it's there it's even harder to stop: the skin at that point is now legitimately sore/itchy, so they want to can be a very vicious cycle and hard to can take days or weeks for the lesions to heal, depending on how bad they get.

From the web: ([url][/url])

[B]What is canine acral lick dermatitis?[/B]
Acral lick dermatitis is when dogs repeatedly lick at specific sites on one or more of their limbs, often causing significant damage. Large breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters are most commonly affected. Underlying medical abnormalities (e.g. arthritis, chip fractures, skin disorders) may initiate or contribute to the behavioral problem. The psychological condition arises when the pet is repeatedly stressed or anxious, and this leads to excessive licking. The area becomes raw and itchy which further stimulates the dog to lick and chew.

With acral lick dermatitis, treatment must be directed at both the behavior disorder and the skin trauma. Even with behavior therapy, treatment of the skin condition is essential. Medical therapy might consist of treatment with long term antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and preventing access to the area until the lesion heals. Behavioral management and drug therapy is much the same as for other compulsive disorders (see above).

shelbysdad2 November 19th, 2009 12:10 AM

Thanks!! I will try what both of you have suggested and update you..I am willing to try anything at this point, I hope it helps!

Thanks again!


rainbow November 19th, 2009 12:30 AM

What are you feeding Shelby?

shelbysdad2 November 19th, 2009 11:41 AM

I am feeding her Nutro Natural Choice Senior dry food, she has been on that for about 2 years, and before that it was Nutro Lamb Meal and Rice.

shelbysdad2 November 20th, 2009 12:37 PM


I have started to give her new food. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula, its a Holistic All-Natural food. Also, have added a Allergy Supplement, Allerg-Eze. As for the "wound", I am applying tea tree oil and aloe to the affected area 3 times a day. So far so good, more updates later!

Cheers :thumbs up


bendyfoot November 20th, 2009 12:47 PM

just be mindful that Tea Tree oil is not good for kitties, so if there's any felines in the house make sure there's no interspecies cuddling :lovestruck:

Otherwise, glad to hear you're on the right track! The crazy licking is such a pain!!!

shelbysdad2 November 22nd, 2009 07:57 PM

thanks bendy, but no cats here...strictly a dog household..haha

Equla November 22nd, 2009 07:59 PM

How is she doing? The hot spot will take a little while to heal, but is she leaving it alone now?

rainbow November 23rd, 2009 01:44 AM

Blue Buffalo is a better food than what you were feeding her but it is too grainy imo.

Hopefully, the tea tree oil and aloe will help her lick sore. Once it is healed try applying apple cider vinegar a couple of times a day .....that is the only thing that worked for my yellow lab.

shelbysdad2 November 23rd, 2009 11:19 AM

well, she has taken to the food, no problem with that, but last night she snuck away while I was asleep and got at her leg again. It was working well too. It seems it always gets to this point (where the scab is forming, and it must just itch too much) and then she gets it again...will keep trying.

bendyfoot November 23rd, 2009 12:47 PM

shelbysdad, you may need to consider an e-colar/cone and/or bitter apple. Our crazy licker will. not. wear. a. cone. She just won't (freaks out), but if yours will, a cone might be a good way to keep her from licking when she's not attended (right now we've got a shepherd who's chewing her toes when we're not around, so she wears her cone at night when we're sleeping). There are inflatable "cones" as well, which some dogs seem to take to better if a cone freaks them out (since it doesn't go the full length of the head, only the neck.)
You can also try a bitter spray/gel...I personally prefer the gel because it's easier to's alcohol based so will sting a wound, but I can apply it to the fur around the can also help deter. Once you get that scab healed she should be much less inclined to lick it raw again.

shelbysdad2 November 24th, 2009 01:19 PM

I have had a cone on her on 2 occasions for extended periods each time, but what she does is push up against a wall or the floor and bends the cone to get to her eh? haha. And the bitter spray does not faze her, she licks that like its an appetizer. Its been very frustrating to say the least, but I will continue to try and deter this. I will win! I will win! LOL

rainbow November 24th, 2009 01:59 PM

My lab will not wear a cone either ....he goes absolutely beserk. :rolleyes: And, our house is tiny and with him so big he is always crashing into things. :frustrated:

He was not deterred by any of the bitter sprays either. The only thing that worked was continually using the "leave it" command and using the apple cider vinegar. It will sting if you put it on a raw area so try dabbing around it first until it scabs over again. Good luck. :fingerscr

bendyfoot November 24th, 2009 02:37 PM

scroll down the page in this thread: [url][/url]

you'll see the inflatable cone alternative I was talking about...

shelbysdad2 December 1st, 2009 02:35 PM

well, you can add apple cider vinegar to the list of things that do not bother her, geesh! this dog is unreal! I may have to go with the inflatable collar, but her hotspot is just above her paw, I am thinking she would still be able to get at it. when she lays with her head forward, her paw is right there. Will the collar be able to keep her far enough out of reach?

shelbysdad :shrug:

rainbow December 5th, 2009 03:13 AM

I've never used one of those so don't know. :shrug:

Is someone home with Shelby all the time? You are going to have to watch her like a hawk and keep telling her to "leave it" every time she starts licking and then distract her with a toy or something. And, hopefully she sleeps beside you and you're a light sleeper.

I know you just switched her to Blue Buffalo but I would start feeding her a grain free food like Orijen, Acana Provincial or EVO. Acana Provincial is the cheapest of the three and is made by the same company as Orijen ( [url][/url] ) at their own manufacturing plant. A lot of dogs with allergies have benefitted by switching to a grain free kibble.

Maybe someone else will have some more suggestions for you. :fingerscr

rainbow December 7th, 2009 02:49 PM

How is Shelby doing? :fingerscr :goodvibes:

I seen these advertised in Dog Fancy magazine ....


Not sure how well they would stay on though. :shrug:

shelbysdad2 December 8th, 2009 07:08 PM

Thanks Rainbow! I will look into those strips and see if they are available in my area! If not I will see about ordering them online.
Shelby is the same, still leaving it for a few days then gets to it when i leave the house, its impossible to watch her constantly 24/7. It takes 5 minutes of her to be alone and bam! its raw again. She is not getting it at night anymore, she is in my room with me every night now. Thanks for your help and concern...
lets see what happens with these strips!

shelbysdad :fingerscr

rainbow December 8th, 2009 07:23 PM

I just have a feeling that those strips will not stay on. :shrug:

Are you the only one at home or is someone else there that can watch her when you can't? Or can you get someone to come in to look after her or take her to someone? :fingerscr

Equla December 8th, 2009 07:23 PM

[QUOTE=shelbysdad2;853228]I have had a cone on her on 2 occasions for extended periods each time, but what she does is push up against a wall or the floor and bends the cone to get to her eh? haha. And the bitter spray does not faze her, she licks that like its an appetizer. Its been very frustrating to say the least, but I will continue to try and deter this. I will win! I will win! LOL[/QUOTE]

I've been hearing a lot of people saying that bitter apple doesn't even work. We tried spraying it on the palm trees out back so the dogs would quit eating the bark. We set the bottle on the table out back and forgot about it. Came out a couple hours later and they had eaten the bottle!

Have you tried the cast gauze? It's the stuff the vet wraps around an IV to keep the animal from chewing it out. Same stuff that goes on a broken arm after the initial white cast. The stuff I always see in the pet supply stores is hot pink. Pretty tough stuff. Sucks that it won't let the wound breathe, but if you can't watch her (like while at work) it might be something to try instead of the collar.

cassiek December 10th, 2009 12:02 AM

Shelbysdad2, I can truly sympathize with you! :sad: My one dog has had terrible allergies for [B][I]years[/I][/B] and it has been a losing battle. We have done steroid pills, injections, supplements, shampoos, sprays, all types of dog food with novel proteins (duck, fish, etc.) and [B][I]nothing has worked![/I][/B] Sigh, it's so frustrating! :wall:

I actually joined this forum to learn more about raw, & I have switched all my dogs in an attempt to help with the poor little guys allergies! :sick:

I would defaintly try a grain-free and poultry-free dog diet, as that seems to be what most dogs are allergic to. Orijen is grain-free and they have a fish diet which is also high in omega-3's which is great for the skin. You can also pick up a bottle of liquid omega-3 dietary supplement at most vet clinics and give a few squirts in his food (I cheat and use Shopper's salmon and fish oils pills instead - much cheaper!) :2cents:

I have heard lamb seems to work with many dogs with allergies... didn't work for my guy but maybe worth a shot? :shrug:

I know you can also test for allergies at the vet clinic... I have thought about it, but most of the vets I have talked to have said its not very conclusive and allergies are usually to multiple things (some of which you can't control very easily!). :wall:

Good luck and keep us posted!

shelbysdad2 December 18th, 2009 11:14 PM

I checked out the anti-lick strips, and after some research, found out what ingredients they use to stop the licking. well, it was cayenne pepper, lemon, oregano, and some type of oil( forget which now) So, I thought i would try a home version of that with cayenne and bitter spray. What I did was spray the bitter first, then sprinkled the cayenne on top of that so it would stick. Didn't last 5 minutes! I tell ya this dog is unbelievable! Nothing, and I mean nothing fazes her. :wall:

I really believe now that its just habit and not an allergy. She won't do it when i'm around, only when I'm asleep or away from the house. She's smart, she knows when to do it. I would be inclined to think it was an allergy if it was an all the time thing, but it isn't.

I'm going to wrap it, and wrap it, and wrap it, It'll look like a cast, haha. not tight of course..

Anyway, the struggle continues...
All for now, thanks for tuning in and we'll see ya next time on the licky my paw show.

Purpledomino December 20th, 2009 01:27 AM

My Great Dane occassionally gets into these lick-fests with resulting hotspots, and I know how once they start it's hard to stop. I think the only real way to stop it is to find some way to physically get them to keep off the spot they are licking, like an e-collar...anything I topically put on the hotspot would just get licked off.

Abby also hates the e-collar, so I fashioned something out of a thick towel that I duct taped around her that she could not reach and lick.
I got the idea from foam type cervical collars that they sell for dogs for this reason, and you have to have a thick enough towel that the dog cannot really look down and twist his head.

It worked wonders for my dog, and it is soft enough and comfortable for her to sleep in. Just wrap a thick folded towel around her neck, and duct tape it to secure it. As long as it is not too tight (check of course) and cannot bend down her head it might work. You may have to remove it so she can eat and drink, so just watch her. Good luck!

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