It’s normal for dogs to groom themselves but it can become troublesome. But I thought only cats were susceptible to over-grooming. Sadly, that’s not always the case. If you’ve noticed your fur-baby obsessively licking a spot or two it may lead to a possible serious problem. Before you can treat his obsessive grooming, you need to know why he’s grooming himself excessively.
Skin Irritations and Infections
Fleas are always an irritant for pups. If your furry buddy is allergic to fleas, this could cause him to not only scratch but lick or chew his flea bites. Other sources for his excessive grooming can be hot spots, hives or the mange.
It may come as a surprise to learn that your pooch can contract the same bacterial, fungal and viral infections that we can. Generally, canines are affected with ringworm disease or yeast infection.
If you believe he’s suffering from one of these irritations or infections, it’s vital that you make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.
Has your four-legged friend been injured? If so, cover it with a bandage so he can’t lick the area and call your veterinarian. While it’s true that grooming the wound could trigger blood flow and encourage it to heal, saliva holds many bacteria which may lead to an infection. If you’re not sure he’s injured, his over-grooming should point it out; once it’s discovered you need to apply a bandage and get him to your vet as soon as possible.
If he tries to chew, scratch or lick the gauze, you should buy a cone protection collar. This collar will prevent him from grooming his wound.
If your buddy is licking because of itchy skin, he may have an allergy. Like us, he could be allergic to anything from pollen or grass to chemicals or even his food. Allergic reactions in dogs are often expressed through the skin. If you discover that your furry friend’s grooming himself after being exposed to an allergen—say, after being outside—notify your veterinarian; they will run tests to find out what the allergen is and treat it with antihistamines or steroids and ointments. If your vet can isolate the allergen, they might suggest giving your pooch allergy shots which will get rid of the problem for good.
Your pup, like people, can have emotional problems. He could be prone to excessive licking if he’s stressed out, bored or going through separation anxiety. If his grooming becomes a serious issue, your vet can identify it and prescribe medication for your fur-baby. If the problem’s left untreated, it could turn into a bad infection called a granuloma.
Pain and Lumps
Not all your dog’s excessive grooming has to do with skin problems. He could be suffering from a strained muscle or joint pain. If you see him grooming a particular area of his body, like a leg or hip, he may have pain there. Obsessive grooming provides him with a brief anesthetic feeling once the saliva evaporates. But, as you know, this isn’t a good fix for his pain; never give your beloved pooch any human pain relievers without consulting your veterinarian first.
Likewise, he’ll over-groom an area, like the back, that contains a lesion, lump or sore. These could be signs of a more serious problem, and warrant a vet check for sure.
Of course, properly grooming your pooch -just the right amount – is the ideal we all strive for. If you’d like some help keeping your adored pet the best looking (and smelling) on your block, contact us for a grooming appointment.