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Obsessive Paw Licking by Frank Utchen, DVM
Front Legs

Question: Dr. Utchen my dog is licks one paw so much she has a sore on it, and I can't get her to leave it alone. Now it is bleeding. I've tried covering it with a sock, but she tears that off and keeps licking. What can I do to stop her? She hates wearing that collar thing.

Answer:

You are probably describing what we call an "Acral Lick Granuloma." These sores are frustrating to pet owners and veterinarians alike. Attempts to resolve this problem with antibiotics alone routinely fail, as do simple approaches like treatment with over-the-counter ointments and creams. The best solution we've found is the daily application of a liquid containing a form of cortisone called dexamethasone, plus a non-cortisone anti-inflammatory medication called flunixin meglumine, both dissolved in a liquid called DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). All 3 of those medications reduce inflammation and swelling, and the DMSO gets rapidly and deeply absorbed into the skin, carrying the other two medications with it. Despite the ineffectiveness of antibiotics when used alone, the above treatment works faster when antibiotics are used concurrently. 

A note of caution: sometimes a growth will develop on a dog's paw that goes unnoticed by a pet owner until the dog begins licking at it. This can be mistaken for a simple sore, when in fact a tumor is present. I would strongly recommend you take your dog in for a check up to determine the nature of the problem.

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