How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?
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Chamomile and green teas are well-known for their soothing, anti-inflammatory effects in humans—but they work just as well for dogs, too.1 If your dog is dealing with hot, itchy patches of skin, try giving them a soothing soak in a chamomile or green tea bath.
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There is a long list of possible causes of this problem. In many dogs this is purely a behavioral issue related to anxiety, boredom or stress. Dogs with joint pain like to lick over the painful area to alleviate pain. Skin allergy or infections, skin foreign bodies predispose dogs to Acral Lick Granuloma as well. Finally, low thyroid hormone level is believed to play a role in developing Lick Granuloma.
Treatment is often long, and close cooperation between the owner and the vet is required. The effort should ultimately be directed to identify and treat the underlying cause.
Food allergies are very common in dogs and can present with itching and licking all over the body rather than on just one spot. Common food allergens include ingredients such as wheat, corn and soy products, however dogs can be allergic to almost anything! Starting a food trial of an allergen-friendly diet from your vet or pet store that avoids these common ingredients may help. The food should be switched over a period of 7-9 days and then given about a month to decide if it is helping.
Small skin infections or yeast in the skin can also cause itching, however this itching is often more specific to a certain area of the body (such as the toes, or base of the tail). Your vet can perform a skin scraping of the area to be cultured at a lab to look for any yeast or bacteria. If they are present, a medication given either orally or placed on the affected area can clear up the infection.
In some cases, licking and chewing can actually be due to a boredom or anxiety behavior. Dogs may lick one spot obsessively to the point of creating sores or wounds in the area. Stopping your dog from licking and chewing either through the use of dog booties, no lick strips, T-shirts or even Elizabethan collars can break the habit and give the area time to heal. Licking and chewing can also cause the spread of bacterial infections so should be deterred even if not behaviorally caused.
It is best to have your sister bring her dog in to have the legs looked at. Your vet can check for any signs of infection, allergy or even external parasites and provide treatment for relief. If there is no apparent cause, your vet may also recommend a blood test to check for internal illness as the cause.
Until you can get to the vet, it is best to prevent the dog from licking or scratching at the area. An Elizabethan collar (cone) is best to stop the behavior and allow the legs to rest some until they can be examined. If there is any dirt or debris in the area, a warm clean washcloth can be used to keep the area clean and prevent secondary infection until it can be examined.
Other causes such as allergies, cuts and scrapes, or even external parasites can cause redness as well. Ticks and fleas are common in wooded and brushy areas, so making sure your pet is on a preventative for these is important.
If the rash appears to have any cuts, scrapes, open sores, hair loss or spreads, then making an appointment with your vet is best. Your vet can take a sample of the area to look for any more serious infections causing the redness.
While the cone or covering the area with long socks if on the forearm or foot is a traditional method of breaking the habit, there are new products out called “no lick strips” which can be applied onto a bandage over the affected area. These strips utilize a minor form of positive punishment- when the dog licks the strip he gets a minor electrostatic shock or bad taste in his mouth, deterring him from continuing. The strips have had good success with use when compared to just using an Elizabethan collar.
Treating any underlying stress or anxiety can also help to decrease licking behaviors. Calming medications and treats, removing the stressors, providing a safe place for your dog to “hide” during stress or anxiety, or even using calming pheromones can all help with stress reduction.