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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My elderly dog has suddenly started licking our stone hearth

Resolved Question:

My elderly dog has suddenly started licking our stone hearth particularly in the evenings after his meal.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that your pup George is licking your stone hearth, especially after his evening meals.
Is this a completely new behavior for him or has it just worsened over time?
If this is a new behavior then dogs will often lick when they have a bad taste in their mouth but that should not last long. They can also lick when they have something caught between their teeth or on the roof of their mouth.

Have you looked at his teeth and gums and on the roof of his mouth?
Has his appetite increased or decreased?

Dogs will often lick when they are feeling nauseous or have gastroesophageal reflux to try and settle their stomachs. Has he had any vomiting or excess swallowing behavior along with his licking?

Metabolic diseases that increase appetite such as diabetes or Cushings Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) may cause dogs to lick things that they normally would not.
And metabolic diseases that cause stomach upset like kidney or liver disease, hyperlipidemia, or pancreatitis can cause licking.

Anemia can lead to pica or eating or licking non food items.

Ideally he would see his veterinarian for an examination and have some blood tests done to make sure there are no health problems behind this behavior. Your veterinarian will want to closely examine his mouth and teeth. As far as blood tests I would start with a complete blood count and biochemistry profile to look for anemia and underlying metabolic organ disease.

If this has been a long term problem for him and his blood tests look normal this may be a form of obsessive compulsive behavior related to anxiety or early senility at his age. You might wish to discuss training to change his behavior and medications to reduce anxiety with your veterinarian. They can be as simple as DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) which is a synthetic analog of a calming pheromone that bitches produce when they are nursing, and most dogs find soothing, to a homeopathic drop added to his food or water like Bach's Rescue Remedy to prescription medications like fluoxetine or amitriptyline. DAP and Bach's Rescue Remedy are available online or at pet stores if you want to try them.

For now in case this is related to nausea or reflux to try and settle his stomach you can try either:
1) Pepcid-ac (famotidine) at one half of a 10mg tablet per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight every 12 hours.
OR
2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at one half of a 10mg tablet per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight every 24 hours.
Either of these will reduce stomach acid and should help settle his stomach. You can use these for several days if need be or even long term as they are very safe medications.

You do want to mention this behavior to his veterinarian at his next veterinary visit even if he improves with the acid reducers as they will likely want to run some blood tests to look for any possible developing problems.

If this is a new behavior it may help to feed him a bland diet as well as giving acid reducing medications. A homemade bland diet consists of 1/3 boiled, lean hamburger (or chicken) and 2/3 boiled rice. Give small meals several times a day. Feed the bland diet for several days, then start mixing in his regular diet and slowly convert him back. If his symptoms get better and then come back with a return to his regular diet then discuss using a low irritant diet like Hills i/d or Purina Veterinary Diets EN with his veterinarian.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15127
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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