Do you have a dog that licks everything or licks excessively? This behavior is called excessive licking of surfaces or ELS. Many dogs presented with excessive licking are diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and are treated with antidepressants. However, studies have shown that many dogs with these symptoms have a gastrointestinal disorder and not a behavior problem.
The licking behavior is thought to be a manifestation of nausea and pain. Blood work, examination of a stool sample for intestinal parasites, abdominal ultrasound and obtaining biopsies of the intestinal tract may be tests that are required to make a specific diagnosis. Inflammatory bowel disease, delayed emptying of the stomach, chronic pancreatitis, intestinal parasites and intestinal foreign bodies are a few of the diseases that might be diagnosed with this disorder.
Treatment of this disorder obviously depends upon the results of the tests. Dietary change to a prescription diet, antacids, deworming, and anti-vomiting medication can be used in dogs where a diagnosis has not been made. In one study, significant improvement in frequency and duration of ELS was observed in 10 out of 17 dogs.
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