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Is your dog always licking things?

Discussion in 'Doberman Health and News Articles' started by strykerdobe, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    [​IMG]

    by Karen Shaw Becker, DVM
    [​IMG]
    A recent study has shown that ELS (excessive licking of surfaces) is a telltale sign of gut disease in dogs.
    If your dog seems obsessed with licking objects around the house, he might have a condition called “excessive licking of surfaces” or ELS. Dogs with this condition relentlessly and repetitively lick floors, carpets, walls, furniture, their owner’s legs, hands or arms, and even their own lips. It’s important to distinguish ELS from self-licking, which is usually caused by itchy, irritated or inflamed skin, hot spots, and/or acral lick dermatitis.

    Excessive licking behavior may seem harmless, so many dog guardians just try to ignore it. However, if your dog swallows enough hair or fibers from the objects he’s licking, it could potentially result in a serious intestinal blockage requiring surgery. Some people ask their veterinarians about ELS behavior, and are often told it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, holistic vets have known for years that animals who “air lick” or obsessively lick floors, sofas, carpets, etc. almost always have GI issues. Many GI problems cause nausea, and dogs can reduce this unpleasant sensation through licking behavior.

    A recent Canadian study showed that ELS is indeed very often health-related rather than behavioral, and that almost 75% of dogs with ELS had some form of gastrointestinal disease!

    Study links ELS to GI problems
    The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal Veterinary Teaching Hospital and involved 19 dogs with ELS, 16 of which engaged in the behavior on a daily basis. Ten healthy dogs were also involved as controls.

    The dogs received behavioral, physical and neurological examinations, followed by a thorough digestive system evaluation that included lab work, ultrasound, endoscopy, and histopathologic analysis of GI tissue samples.

    The results showed that 14 of the 19 dogs with ELS (74%) had GI disease. Identified disorders included:

    • Eosinophilic and/or lymphoplasmacytic infiltration of the GI tract
    • Delayed gastric emptying
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Chronic pancreatitis
    • Gastric foreign body
    • Giardiasis
    Treatment was started based on the diagnostic findings, and the dogs were monitored for 90 days. The researchers observed significant improvement in ELS behavior in ten of 17 dogs (59%), with complete resolution in nine out of 17 (53%).

    The researchers further observed that the ELS dogs were not significantly more anxious than the control dogs. They also noted that seven dogs in the study engaged in ELS behavior at home after eating their meals – the researchers suggested this might indicate nausea or discomfort triggered by eating.

    The study concluded that GI disorders should be considered in dogs who display ELS behavior. Hopefully, these findings will motivate more conventional veterinarians to evaluate dogs with ELS for potential GI conditions, rather than attributing it to behavior problems.


    Study treatments were conventional[​IMG]
    While the findings of this study are certainly important, the treatments administered to the ELS dogs were limited to drugs and commercial processed diets. The treatments were based on the dogs’ diagnostic test results and symptoms, and included:

    • Fenbendazole, a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drug used to treat giardia infections
    • Commercial (processed) elimination diets
    • Prednisone (a corticosteroid), sometimes coupled with cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant) for dogs with eosinophilic and/or lymphoplasmacytic infiltration of the GI tract (e.g., lymphoma)
    • Prokinetic drugs to enhance GI motility, coupled with canned food for dogs with delayed gastric emptying
    • Sulfasalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug, coupled with soluble fiber for dogs with irritable bowel syndrome
    • Manual removal of a gastric foreign body (a 12” nylon rope) in one dog
    • Five ELS dogs with no diagnosed GI abnormalities received elimination diets, antacids, and in some cases, anti-nausea drugs.
    The study’s aim was to determine if dogs with ELS have an underlying GI issue, and whether treatment of GI issues has a positive effect on obsessive licking behavior. The answer to both those questions is obviously “yes”, but I’m concerned about the use of drugs when there are safer alternatives, and I’m certainly no fan of commercial processed diets. My guess is most of the dogs in the study achieved only temporary relief from their GI disorders and ELS.

    When I treat a dog with GI disease, I always try to resolve the problem without resorting to the use of drugs. An exception might be in the case of an established, identified infection (e.g. giardiasis) that requires anti-parasitics or antibiotics because the infection was not responsive to natural alternatives.

    In my experience, overuse of antibiotics and corticosteroids like prednisone in veterinary medicine is the root cause of many of the GI issues we see in pets today. Their use should be strictly limited to situations in which no safer option is available or has proved effective.

    Unfortunately, many conventional vets continue to automatically prescribe these medications to treat disorders of the digestive tract; even worse, they often leave patients on these drugs for weeks, months or years, making long-term side effects almost inevitable.

    Alternative recommendations
    When dealing with GI disorders, whether related to ELS or not, I opt for customized anti-inflammatory diets of fresh, whole, organic, and non-GMO foods. Each diet must be tailored to the individual animal’s specific GI disorder(s) and symptoms. Working with a nutritionist allows you to create the perfect diet for your pet.

    Many people don’t realize that healing modalities such as acupuncture and chiropractic can also be very helpful in treating GI disorders. For example, holistic veterinarians are aware that many dogs with excessive licking behavior have hiatal hernias that can be managed with chiropractic care. In fact, a veterinary chiropractor I know gets dozens of referrals to treat ELS dogs diagnosed with hiatal hernias! H

    Homeopathic and TCM protocols (chosen on the unique history of each patient), in addition to nutraceuticals (and dietary intervention), can also provide good long-term solutions to this strange syndrome.

    If you’re concerned your dog may have ELS and/or a GI condition, make an appointment with an integrative/holistic veterinarian for a checkup, including all appropriate diagnostic tests and a thorough GI evaluation. Once you’ve ruled a GI disorder either in or out, you can decide on the best approach to treating your dog’s situation.

    Is your dog always licking things?
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
  2. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    No kidding.

    Kaiser did lick floors when he was on kibble!

    I often thought there might be a dead body under the floor except that I had to remind myself that I saw the house being built and there was not enough room for dead bodies!

    I googled his behavior and the answer was supposedly boredom. How? We exercised him enough. Truth was that the kibble and the resulting cow pile poops were irritating him. Since switching to raw he became more calm and we haven't seen this behavior again...until...Sunday afternoon. Saturday night we went to see the new puppy and I forgot to pull out his frozen patties so they could thaw :facepalm:We ended up feeding him some kibble the next day which resulted in :poop:

    Might as well have let him fast except that I didn't want to see him poking at his food bowl requesting to be fed. I had no kongs ready and he was given a bully stick while we were away Saturday - Two in a row would have caused loose stools hence the decision to give him kibble. Even one meal of kibble was bad enough. Today his poops are normal again and there is no more floor licking.

    What a timely post. Also the one on cat kibble. @strykerdobe strikes again! :thumbsup2:
     
  3. GOD'S GRACE

    GOD'S GRACE Notable member

    It's been my experience once you switch to raw, you're better fasting while defrosting or run to the store...my research has also revealed the same...missing a first or last feeding never hurt me!! LOL, I don't think it hurts the dog either. It does keep him balanced...I could be wrong. :D
    :usa::dobe::cool:
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    You're right. We should have let him go hungry. It was just one meal and it would not have hurt him to wait a while.

    Also having to pick up those soft piles that stink so bad. I do not miss those days!
     
    • Empathetic Empathetic x 1
  5. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Our breed is known for excessive licking due to the OCD gene they carry. Same gene the blanket suckers carry. This is seperate from GI issues :)
     
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  6. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    Oh. Interesting. I only knew they were OCD about flank sucking. He probably just prefers blankets then because he always suckles on his more fluffy or thick bedding. He does not obsessively lick at anything else but I redirected it whenever he used to target the floors.
     
  7. Gelcoater

    Gelcoater Expert ThreadCrapper $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber

    I was going to say, if this story was the case Daisy had a gut issue her entire life?
    And Rocky too.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  8. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Yup :) Flank sucking and toy/blanket sucking is the same gene. It’s more typical for them to blanket/toy suckle. My girl Aria is a flank sucker who also has Pica (also the same gene). She also suckles on our arms. Her daughter Aoife only suckles on her fluff and tuff ball and blankets. My male, Archer will lick obsessively, especially if he’s trying to pacify himself.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
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  9. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    This is so fascinating :woot2:

    So does that mean Kaiser is already expressing his preference for blankets and that's what he'll stick to, or does this mean he may migrate to flank sucking later on in life? :scratch: He's now 17 months.
     
  10. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    Suckling on your arms? How does that work with all those teeth!

    I know Dobes have a tendency to eat grass but is that also considered to be part of pica? With his last incident of runny poops, his grass eating came back too which I found to be odd because he hasn't tried to eat grass since winter destroyed all the nice green grass. Now it's just dry and hard.
     
  11. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Such a terrible mom to not thaw that poor starving ribs showing dog’s food.:rofl::rofl:
    It is recommended to fast them every couple weeks or even weekly for a day.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  12. Tropicalbri's

    Tropicalbri's $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber $ Forum Donor $

    Bacall is obsessed with licking glass sliders. If I clean them she has to lick them.:facepalm:
     
    • Funny Funny x 4
  13. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    I just wouldn't be able to do it to my little boy :love: He's such a food monster!
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    Here he is at 6 months. Licking the floor where I was sure there was a dead body. He was obsessed with that spot. Doesn't look guilty at all right :rolleyes:
    image.jpeg
     
    • Funny Funny x 4
  15. GOD'S GRACE

    GOD'S GRACE Notable member

    Just a thought on licking and raw diets...."Are they looking for minerals, micro nutrients" ??? I know my past dogs would eat a little grass and chewing sticks, as well as lick my hands...Grace started licking and chewing the landscape this week when I switched her.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    Just throwing it out there. If he is licking your floors I would look for a non-toxic cleaner to wash them. There is always some residue left.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber

    I think it can go either way. I've read yes they are looking for other nutrients. Our guys at certain times of the year just bite small chunks of grass with dirt attached to it and eat it.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  18. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    It seems that Dobes will graze on grass as a habit but I do think it represents something missing from their diet. I give Kaiser some form of green veg as a topper. But he still does eat grass.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Kaiser2016

    Kaiser2016 Active Member

    I did switch over from Swiffer stuff to Dr Bronners. It's a peppermint scented formula which is all that Costco carries.
     
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  20. strykerdobe

    strykerdobe Hot Topics Subscriber


    Awesome! Your on it!

    Dr. Bronner’s is CERTIFIED [​IMG] Our products are certified to the strictest industry standards. Support truth in labeling! No greenwashing hype!
     
    • Agree Agree x 2

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