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Dog licking other dog's ear.

Species: Dog
Breed: pit bull
Age: 1-2 years
My roommate's pit/lab mix Champ is moderately obsessed with licking/chewing on my pit Blanche's ears. At first we just thought it was a dominance thing and didn't really see it as a huge problem. However, recently he has gnawed so hard that he broke the skin, and licks at the scab every day so it is unable to heal. This happened right before I left for a short 3 day vacation and when I got home yesterday it is still an issue. I will be taking them both to the vet next week to make sure there isn't an underlying health problem like ear mites, but until then do you have any advice to keep Champ from licking at the wound until I can get them to the vet? I figured an E-collar is out because champ would still be able to access her ears, those seem to only defend against self licking. All of my attempts at bandaging and covering it have failed as she manages to wiggle her way out. Would it be safe to use a licking deterrent like bitter apple on an open cut? What about tea tree oil? Is my only option to separate them until she is healed?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Well that's a frustrating issue, isn't it!

I can tell you that almost every time when I have seen a two dog household where one dog wants to lick the other dog's ears obsessively, it is because there is some type of medical issue with the other dog's ears. Usually the problem is some type of infection as opposed to ear mites. For some reason, infected tissue is very attractive to dogs and they do want to constantly lick it.

So, the good news is that once you get Blanche's ears sorted out medically then Champ shouldn't be so obsessed.

There are a couple of things that you can do to discourage Champ from doing this until you can get to the vet.

The first is, indeed using bitter apple. However, I wouldn't put it directly on the open area. Bitter apple is primarily alcohol based and would really sting on an open area. But, when Champ is licking the ear, he is probably licking a lot of healthy tissue as well. Try dabbing a little bit of bitter apple on non-broken skin three times a day. He'll soon get the idea that this is not enjoyable.

The second option would be to give some type of negative stimulus like a very loud noise every time you see Champ going near Blanche's ear. The problem with this though is that it will likely scare Blanche as well and that's not fair.

You're right, an e-collar or a bandage is not likely to be very effective.

Hopefully you can get her to the vet soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.