LICK SORES (Boredom Sores)
QUESTION: My 2 year old dog has started to lick himself continually in two spots. One front paw and a patch on his hind leg. He has licked these spots until they bleed. Bandaging them does not work because he just tears the bandages off. Bad tasting spray to deter it does not seem to help much either. He does it mostly when we are not home or are ignoring him. We both work and just do not have time for him. How do we stop this once and for all? The Vet says put him on a drug to make him more docile but we don't want to do that?
ANSWER: When a dog begins to lick themselves in a certain spot continually it can be awfully hard to stop them doing it. It is a type of Neurosis. They are often called "Boredom" sores. It is most common in large, short haired breeds that need a lot of exercise and work/play time with their masters. But I have witnessed it in many small breed dogs too, especially ones that tend to need a lot of attention. In fact, all breeds.
First thing is to make sure the dog is getting lots of exercise and things to do. And lots of time spent playing or cuddling with their masters. Both prevent the boredom that is usually the reason for this. Second is to consider that their may have originally been a small skin irritation there that first caused the dog to start on that spot. Regardless, now it is a neurotic habit.
Sprays that do not taste good sometimes work, especially if the dog is also given more exercise and much needed "hands on" attention that they are craving. Such deterrents must be reapplied several times a day!!!
Topical Cortisone relieves the itching but often the dog just licks it off. Cortisone can also be administered by injection directly into the sore.
I do not agree with keeping a dog drugged up to prevent it but in severe cases, it may be necessary. Speak to your vet about injecting Cortisone directly into the sores.