How to Cover a Leg Sore on a Dog
4-Year-Old Labrador Retriever Mix Refuses to Stop Licking her Front Leg!
Mercy was a peaceful, calm dog. She stepped on the scale at the vet’s and obeyed any request such as “sit!” or “Gimme paw!” But the 4-year-old Lab mix would not stop licking the top of her left front leg!
Lick Granuloma Obsession
Day and night, when she wasn’t running and playing, she was laying in a quiet corner, under the dining room table, or next to the bed, just licking and licking. She obsessed about one particular oval, grey, raised, bald spot on the top of her left forearm. Over the years, that spot grew thicker and bigger. First, there was just a tiny red spot and the licking. But after a few months, all the hair fell out. Now, several years into the thing, the licking is constant. These spots are called “lick granulomas.”
Treatments That Sometimes Work for a Lick Granuloma
Mercy’s family tried everything they could think of:
- Bitter Apple spray
- Triple antibiotic cream
- Hot sauce
- Vitamin E and Aloe vera
- Squirting water at her and saying no!
- Antidepressant medication
Still, Mercy licked obsessively at that one spot.
What Are the Possible Diagnosis for a Sore, Bald Spot on a Dog’s Leg?
There are different diagnosis for a lick granuloma that can all look the same as Mercy’s sore. Certain skin tumors, arthritis, insect and spider bites, drug reactions, non-healing cuts, and obsessive-compulsive behavior can all contribute to a non-healing sore. You really do need a veterinarian to guide you aggressively and decisively in the beginning of the problem.
Decent Lick Granuloma Treatments
There are treatments that work better: prescription strength antibiotics that penetrate well, appropriate antibiotics given for 1 month or longer without missing a dose, talented application of acupuncture, cold Class IV laser therapy.
“Honestly, people watch these sores grow. I believe people hope they will resolve on their own. The sores don’t seem that bad at first. The problem with ‘wait and see’ is this: we see a deep, scarred, difficult problem in a relatively short time,” says Doc Truli.
As the lick granuloma sore festers over months and years, the original cause and cure become lost to us. There is so much scar tissue and raw nerve endings that the original cause barely even matters anymore. So what can be done?
Surgical Excision of a Lick Granuloma
In Mercy’s case, we performed surgery to excise the diseased, damaged tissue. The surgery went well, but can you guess the massive post-operative nursing care problem?
Did you guess the problem is the stitches and the healing process itself?
Question: How do we keep a dog who caused a problem by licking, from licking the surgery site before it can heal?
Answer: Be very, very creative!
Companies make Dog Leggings. You can google them and find many fine products. The problem is this: dogs come in all shapes and sizes and the leggings must be custom-made to have the right fit. So you pay…what? $60? $80? and then your dog chews them to bits the first night while you are sleeping! (Okay, maybe, but for that kind of money, do you want to take the chance?)
How to Make Leggings to Cover a Sore Spot on a Dog’s Front Leg
Voila! Doc Truli invented dog leggings you can make from stockinette. This gauzy material comes on a roll for use in covering the leg underneath a plaster cast. It is a tube of material, lightweight, and easy to cut. Many veterinarians and medical supply stores carry this stockinette.
Here’s what you do:
- Drape the stockinette over your dog’s back, from paw to paw and over the shoulder. Cut a length about 10% longer than that.
- Fold in half, find the midpoint and cut along one edge to fillet open the stockinette. This opening will be large enough to make two legs on either side, but small enough not to droop at the armpits.
- Roll up one side, which should still be shaped like a sock, and have your dog step into the stocking, then bring the stockinette up over the shoulders, and bend the other front leg to step into the second leg of the “leggings”
- At this point, I usually discover I made the whole thing way too short (hence the extra 10%), or I’ve cut the center hole part waaaay too small (general, it’s about 50% of the stockinette) I make the center cut larger until I can get the dog’s second leg into the stocking.
- Now you’ve got a cover on both legs (you probably only need one leg covered, but you need both sides to anchor it and hold on the body. )
- Tie the stockinette over the shoulder to the collar or harness, or, if you’re an engineer, replace the collar so that the mid-point of the socking is held to the collar. Otherwise, it tends to drop and loop back toward the middle of the dog and the legging parts get loose.
- For extra strength and snazzy looks, give the ends of the leggings a preppy cuff by folding the stockinette two or three times.
- Replace as needed to keep clean and comfy.
So there you have it, a dog leg cover that does not chafe or pull. I have not yet had a dog rip it off, because it doesn’t bother them. Now the stockinette leggings cover the incision and allow the proper time to heal without lick interference!