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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

11-Year Old Lab OCD

Chocolate Lab Licking Lips
my 11yr old yellow lab, Stoli, is OCD. He is licking his front legs to an out of control problem. He has had to be confined to the cone head device to prevent his licking himself to very bad open wounds and the minute it ever comes off his head to go to walk etc. I can hardly control my very obidient dog to get him to refrain from just going full force at those sores. The cone reduces him to almost 23 hrs of sleep/depression per day. It breaks my heart but bandage only attracts him. we have been through several skin treatments and if they help the sores will be right back upon removal of cone. i have even considered having to put him down rather that see him so demoralized by his cone restraint which seems to be my only way to stop that damn licking himself to death! i hope you may have some advice or perhaps your thoughts about such a final decision as euthanasia.

Medical problems such as obsessive licking are usually difficult to handle for dog owners because it is nerve-wrecking and makes you worrisome. However, if your Stoli where one of my Lab Brats, here is what I would do:

1. Check your dog food. A good portion of skin allergies that cause such behaviors is caused by an allergic reaction to the dog food. Sure, your pup may have been on the same dog food for years but just like humans, dog's bodies change. Labrador are especially prone to food allergies so I would recommend slowly changing out the current dog food you are using with a dog food that is of high quality and does not contain any chicken in it. Now I like the Holistic Select® Senior Care® Formula but that contains chicken meal as the first ingredient so I would put my dog on the Holistic Select® Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon Meal Formula. Actually both of my Lab Brats are currently on the latter because they have very bad skin reactions to chicken and will scratch themselves to death if they were eating a chicken-based diet. For further information on this topic, please read this article: Labs and Dog Foods. Remember that it could take a few weeks for you to see any results from changing the food as new skin needs to grow.

2. Bandage any sores that currently exist and spray the outside with Bitter Apple spray. You can pick up the spray at any pet store and a small amount should work on top of the bandage. Once he gets his tongue on it, it will taste horrible and should stop him from licking it any further. Of course, speak with your vet on how to properly clean and bandage the current wounds first before doing so. Many veterinarian offices will offer free advice over the phone so there is no need to bring your pup in.

3. Wash your Lab's bedding in hot water with allergen free soaps such as All Free. You will also want to add some Nature's Miracle into the wash to get out any dog stains and odors. It should be hot water and the his bedding should be washed weekly.

4. An oatmeal bath does wonders! When you can tell his skin is very dry and he is uncomfortable, give him a light bath with Oatmeal dog shampoo. Make sure there are no perfumes or additives in the shampoo that may upset his skin. Normally you can find them where the puppy shampoo is located.

5. Make sure he has plenty of clean water throughout the day. Just like humans, water replenishes the moisture in the skin of dogs. If he doesn't drink a lot of water, just drop a couple of bits of kibble in the water and he will drink up half the bowl just trying to fish them out.

These suggestions are what I would personally start with if it were either my Dakota or Cheyenne having this problem. From all my research and everything I have heard other Lab owners say, most skin allergies can be combated with dietary and environmental changes. Please don't give up hope on Stoli and please keep us up to date on how he is doing.

Lab smiles,

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