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Dog Health Advice & Tips for Pet Owners

by Geoff Works •

Preventing the Lick: Understanding Dog Lick Granuloma

Licking is part of your dog’s natural behavior. They often lick themselves for grooming or out of boredom. However, excessive licking can be a sign of lick granuloma. This condition, otherwise called acral lick dermatitis, can be physical or psychological and in some cases both. Lick granuloma could lead to skin irritation if left untreated and get worse over time. Once your dog keeps licking the affected area, the skin becomes inflamed and infected, triggering more licking and irritation. In this blog, we’ll be looking at the signs, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of lick granuloma in dogs.  Acral Lick Dermatitis: Commonly Affected Breeds While all dogs can be affected by lick granuloma, it’s often observed in large breeds and middle-aged or older dogs. Among these breeds include: Akitas Boxers Dalmatians Doberman Pinschers English Setters Great Danes Golden Retrievers Irish Setters Labrador Shar-Pei Weimaraners Note that both males and females are equally affected by the condition. While the breeds mentioned above are more prone to lick granuloma, every dog can still suffer from it. Causes of Lick Granuloma As previously described, acral lick dermatitis is self-inflicted due to numerous physical or psychological factors. Your dog will obsess over a certain area in their body to the point that the hair falls out and the skin underneath reddens and becomes inflamed. The cause of that obsession could be rooted in the following: Skin allergies Skin trauma like bites, lesions, bruises Fungal or bacterial infections Skin mites Skin cancer Cushing’s syndrome or hyperadrenocorticism Sharp splinters stuck under the skin Peripheral neuropathy Nerve impingement Stress and anxiety Lack of physical activity  Symptoms of Lick Granuloma The most common sign of this condition is a reddened or inflamed area in the skin with a patch of hair loss. The affected areas can be found on the legs, wrists, ankles, and between the toes. It can also occur in multiple locations at once, depending on the severity of their behavior. Once observed, it’s best to take your dog to the vet to determine the exact cause of the lick granuloma. Diagnosing the Cause of Acral Lick Granuloma Your vet will conduct an initial checkup to evaluate the condition. They’ll ask when the behavior started, your dog’s usual diet, the surrounding areas where you live, previous injuries, and the like. These questions will help your vet rule out other possible causes like fleas and food allergies. After that, your dog will undergo any of the following tests to narrow down the causes of lick granuloma further: Skin scraping Skin biopsy Blood work X-rays Allergy tests Neurological tests Orthopedic exams Behavioral evaluation Once the cause has been identified, your vet will recommend a treatment program based on the current condition of your dog. Possible Treatments Ointments  The treatment will mainly focus on the skin of the affected area and the main root of the behavior. This may include topical ointments, steroids, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications. The ointments should prevent the dog from licking the area. A buster collar is a typical choice for dog owners. Other options include a leg sleeve so your dog’s movements aren’t restricted. Diet and Medications If your vet suspects that the granuloma is due to an allergy, your vet can prescribe various medicines and subject your dog to a specific diet. Antibiotics and antihistamines should also be expected to address allergies and skin infections. The prices will depend on the prescribed medication, your dog’s size, and treatment duration. If the cause is psychological, there are also drugs geared for such treatment. Naltrexone is a common example as it can help with compulsive behavior like lick granuloma or chronic tail-chasing behavior. This drug will help your dog calm down and prevent them from injuring themselves even further. Lick Granuloma Home Remedies Apart from ointment and medications, there are also home remedies for lick granuloma. One of these is Manuka honey that has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Aloe Vera and chamomile are also options for treating lick granuloma. However, these can be toxic to your dog if given in large doses. It’s best to talk to your vet first before you start using this on your pet to avoid worsening their condition and encountering other possible complications. How to Prevent Lick Granuloma  Similar to most illnesses, addressing the problem as early as possible is the best way to stop its progression. When you notice that your dog has been obsessively licking its legs or other parts of the body, keep an eye out for it. If the licking persists, it’s time to consult your vet. Having your dog undergo exams will help rule out the cause and address the problem before it spirals out of control. You’ll also want to clean your surroundings to get rid of any fungal or bacterial infestation that could worsen the condition. Having a clean environment will help prevent other factors that contribute to causing lick granuloma and other ailments that your dog might get. But if an extensive examination has been conducted but the exact cause hasn’t been identified, the trigger may be stress and anxiety. Your best bet is to have more physical activities for your dog to distract them from the obsessive behavior and dedicate their energy to healthier means. Keeping your dog active also prevents the onset of other physical complications while keeping them happy. Your vet will help you create a specific program for your dog that will then be evaluated in the coming weeks. In the meantime, it’s best to address the skin irritation caused by the lick granuloma as soon as possible using the treatments mentioned above. Preventing your dog from aggravating the affected area from excessive licking will help the wound recover fast and healthy.

by Geoff Works •

by Justin Girdler •

8 Dog Physical Therapy Exercises for Recovery & Mobility

Dogs recovering from injuries or surgery often require physical therapy. This complementary treatment helps minimize pain, improve mobility and function, and promote overall health. Your veterinarian will include this step as part of your dog’s rehabilitation plan. Learn more about different canine physical therapy exercises and how each one can aid in your pet’s recovery. 8 Common Types of Dog Physical Therapy Exercises Listed below are the most common types of veterinary physical therapy methods that your vet can recommend: Heat Therapy Heat therapy uses heat to penetrate deeply into the tissues, increase blood flow, and provide pain relief. You can use a variety of heating agents such as hot packs, heat wraps, and towels soaked in hot water. Doing this ritual before exercising your dog will help reduce pain and muscle tension. It’s also beneficial to dogs with spondylosis, chronic inflammation, and neurological conditions. Pros: Reduces pain Starts up the healing process Improves tissue metabolism and flexibility Decreases muscle spasms and blood pressure Cons: Requires extreme caution with heat levels Needs at least 72 hours to apply after injury Potentially worsens swelling when done too early Cold Therapy Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy is the method of applying a dry, cold source to the affected area, to alleviate pain. It can include ice packs, frozen rice bags, and cold compression devices. Cryotherapy is typically given to dogs after surgery to reduce pain and swelling. It also decreases inflammation due to fracture repairs, osteoarthritis, and tendon and ligament injuries. Pros: Decreases blood flow to the affected body part Relieves pain Reduces swelling and muscle spasms Speeds up the healing process Cons: Works best when used immediately Only effective up to two weeks after injury or surgery Massage Therapy Massage therapy belongs to the manual types of dog physical therapy. It uses hand movements to release tension from the muscles and joints. Instead of focusing on one area, it promotes healing throughout the whole body. And just like in humans, massages put your pups at ease. All in all, it’s a rehabilitation tool commonly used for dogs who suffer from joint and muscle injuries. It’s best to perform these motions with guidance from your vet.  Pros: Reduces pain and swelling Relieves anxiety and stress Improves blood circulation Keeps muscle in good shape Cons: Best done by a professional massage therapist Can intensify pain and induce muscle spasms if done incorrectly Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises The passive range of motion (PROM) exercise uses movement for the joints through the available range of motions without placing unnecessary stress on the muscles. It typically lasts for 15-20 minutes several times a day. This series of exercises is ideal for any dogs who have lost their full range of motion. It also works best for stabilizing CCL injuries and helping dogs with fractures, surgeries, and soft tissue injuries to the extremities. Pros: Relieves pain Prevents tight muscles and joints during the acute rehabilitation phase Improves blood flow and lymphatic flow Increases production of synovial fluid to maintain cartilage Promotes lubrication of the joints Cons: Requires dog to be relaxed and willing Doesn’t prevent muscle atrophy Doesn’t improve endurance or strength Laser Therapy This form of canine physical therapy uses light waves to penetrate the skin and repairs tissues from within. Each light wave has specific wavelengths depending on the tissue that needs healing. For example, lower wavelengths work best for the skin, while high wavelengths dig deeper into the bones and muscles. Dogs with chronic arthritis, traumatic injuries, surgical incisions, and tendon and ligament injuries can benefit from this therapy. Pros: Reduces inflammation Relieves pain Promotes the wound healing process Generally safe for pets when performed correctly Cons: Requires specialized equipment under the care of a professional Causes thermal burns if done incorrectly Can damage the retina permanently if performed without protective goggles Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) TENS therapy is a form of electrotherapy used for acute pain and inflammation. It sends gentle waves of electrical currents to the affected area to help reduce aches. As they get used to the tingling sensation, your dog will feel less pain than before. Pros: Aids in pain relief Improves range of motion Accelerates the healing process Prevents muscle atrophy Can be combined with other pain relief methods Cons: Requires special equipment and supervision from a professional Acupuncture This form of veterinary physical therapy has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine. It uses needles to aid in alleviating pain. It improves overall healing by targeting energy imbalance in your dog’s body. This way, your pup can heal on its own. Veterinary acupuncture often works for dogs with joint inflammation and arthritis. Dogs with hip dysplasia, chronic back pain, and spinal cord issues can also benefit from this method. It’s generally safe for dogs of all conditions. Pros: Improves blood flow Brings more oxygen to the blood Stimulates healing Provides pain relief Cons: Not a cure for disorders Requires a series of visits to work Needs cooperation from your dog Hydrotherapy Hydrotherapy stands out from other types of dog physical therapy because of one unique element: water. In this method, your dog performs exercises while partially submerged in water. This environment allows them to work their muscles without adding stress to their bones and joints. Hydrotherapy is ideal for patients suffering from neurological and orthopedic disorders. Dogs with fractures, CCL ruptures, arthritis, and related conditions can also enjoy the benefits of this method. Pros: Works for multiple muscle groups with minimal strain Increases muscle mass and strength Improves range of motion Reduces pain Cons: Needs pool and specialized equipment Requires willingness from your dog Choose the Right Method for Canine Physical Therapy Physical therapy plays an essential role in the rehabilitation process, and help your dog heal better. Thus, it needs to be tailored based on your dog’s disorder and goals for recovery. With the help of your vet, your patience and support are crucial to ensure that your dog successfully recovers and regains overall health. Find more information to support your dog’s health in the Lick Sleeve blog.

by Justin Girdler •

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