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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I have a 5 1/2 year old male maltese/toy poodle. For as long as I can remember his always licks his front paws and bites his front toenails. It's become a nighttime ritual that I can't seem to break. The vet hasn't really been too helpful. She said he might need more mental stimulation. He's on Natural Balance Venison and Sweet Potato and he gets walked 3 times a day.

He is definitely a high energy, high strung dog.

However, now the paw licking has turned into a wound on his right front paw. It's red, swollen, and he has a sore. I'm taking him to the vet this afternoon.

I have not been able to find anyone else who has a dog with this problem. I hoping someone here can help me. I'm at my wits end with this.

Thank you.
 

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Sandi-- w/Kitzel (Kitzi) & Lisel (Lisi)
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Ask your vet to check for fungus around the toe-nail bed---it is often responsible for excessive licking/biting. Hoping you find a solution!
 

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Paw licking can often be caused by allergies. If you suspect allergies, switch to a grain free food and grain free treats, build up to the place you can double the recommended dosage for some good essential fatty acids without causing soft stools. You are doing this to help reduce the inflammation in the body. You may even need to rinse his feet when you come in from outside if you are suspecting a pollen type of allergy. Once you have the allergies under control it can also become a habit. My oldest Malt Zoe is a nervous little girl and started to paw lick due to allergies at the same time I opened my store and had her there with me. She was very stressed with all the people coming in and other dogs, so it's just not a good place for her to be. That's why she goes to my parents during the work day. Her allergies have never manifested again after that first flare up. However it has caused the habit of chewing her nails. Also because she is more of a 'high-strung' dog, I think this does contribute to the habit. She has a very active schedule so for her it is not a lack of exercise or boredom. If you think boredom might be playing a part his paw licking/nail chewing behavior, you might want to add puzzle games and teaching him new tricks or basic commands using only positive reinforcement. I like the 'capture' method because they have to really think about what they did to get the reward. This really wears them out mentally.

This is what I'm doing for Zoe that I've had the best results from.
During extremely stressful or high anxiety times, I have a Thundershirt for her and use my Animal Essentials Tranquility Blend. I have her daily on my HerbSmith's Calm-Shen. I have built her up to where I'm giving her double the recommended dosage of Essential Fatty Acids and I also took her to a veterinary acupuncturist for a few treatments. The acupuncture was more for some chronic discomfort she was having but also helps tremendously with stress and anxiety. She is chewing her nails much less then ever. But it's still a habit. So when I see her or hear her chewing them, usually at night when going to sleep like a baby with a pacifier, I talk to her to get her attention in a happy voice. Scolding or correcting will only make her more stressed. Once I've distracted her so she's no longer chewing her nails, I give her a chew toy that I've found to be her favorite. She only gets it at night when we are in bed. In fact, I even put it under my pillow when I make my bed so it won't ever get lost and she can't find it and chew on it during the day. She happily chews on it until she falls asleep. This is what has helped us the most. Hope maybe something that works for us might help you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He is currently on a Limited Ingredient Diet by Natural Balance and he gets an Omega 3 vitamin every day. I did buy a puzzle game for him (one of the wooden ones where they have to move the parts to get to the treat), however I need to be more consistent with playing the game with him.

This is what the vet said yesterday. His paw is infected. They shaved the fur and cleaned the wound. I feel so bad for him. He is on Cephalexin for two weeks. Does anyone have any experience with this antibiotic? I might start a new thread about the drug. And he has to wear a cone for two weeks. I can only take it off of him for meals, water, and walks. As soon as I take it off he's on the paw, especially now since it's irritating him. It's so sad.

Another thing is this is the third vet who wants me to try an anti-depressant on him. I can't remember the name of it. I kept trying to explain to them that he is not an anxious dog at all and never gets stressed. But, she said that the drug might correct the behavior especially now that he's actually hurting himself. I really don't want to go this route so any natural alternatives will be appreciated.

Thanks for your replies!
 

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Everything I suggested is a natural alternative. I see a vet who practices traditionally and holistically. The Calm-Shen would be something I would really recommend. My vet studied Chinese herbs and suggested putting my Zoe on her Shen-Calm. I told her I had already put her on my Calm-Shen but if hers were a pharmaceutical grade, I would switch her to that. After checking she said they were very similar and to keep her on what I had her on. Also you need to double the Omega 3 dosage. This is standard holistic vet protocol.

You will also need more then one game. They get bored with the same on over and over and once they figure it out, it's not as much of a challenge. I have 5 games we rotate between right now.
 

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A friend of mine has the same issues w/a schnauzer....and it discolors the dog's hair everywhere it licks. It too is a nervous dog....the owner put the dog on grain free for ages & eons with no amelioration. I bet it's a nervous habit/disorder in that case....might well be in your fluff's case too. Hmmmm.
 

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Hunter does his and while originally it was allergies (he is on grain free, limited ingrediant food and his feet get wiped often in both spring and fall) it became a habit and one that he does at night or in the morning or when he's feeling anxious. We simply cover the foot with our hand if he is near us (on the bed or couch) and talk to him and engage him in another activity such as rolling around on the bed or cuddles or any other activity he enjoys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hunter does his and while originally it was allergies (he is on grain free, limited ingrediant food and his feet get wiped often in both spring and fall) it became a habit and one that he does at night or in the morning or when he's feeling anxious. We simply cover the foot with our hand if he is near us (on the bed or couch) and talk to him and engage him in another activity such as rolling around on the bed or cuddles or any other activity he enjoys.
I'm definitely going to have to step it up and be more assertive with him after his foot heals. I, too, use wipes on his feet and even wash them at least twice a week.

Thanks for all of the other tips. I'm definitely going to research the Chinese herbal meds.
 

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Luna does this - it is a learned/behavior/habit. I've tried breaking it but she just likes to do it.

For some dogs its a nervous habit, others due to allergies or infections.
 

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My friend's dog Not a Maltese does the same thing. That dog was always at the vet and on antibiotics for almost 6 months. The place where she took him was state of the art kind of place.
Her husband made her go to a good old fashioned vet. The poor dog had an issue with his paw to the point that he might very well have chewed his paw off. It was only one paw and food wasn't the problem. This was an issue that would not go away. Dog was put on Prozac and left his paw alone.

Hope this helps.
 

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Does he lick his paws & chew at them more at certain times of the year?
It could be allergies that get worse at certain times of the year.
It might be allergies & OCD,but that would be for your vet to determine,
as I noticed in your other thread.
My Coco has allergies, however in late August to October, they are the worst, perhaps ragweed.
Last year her allergies snuck up on us, as she was only one year old then, and she was put on a steroid.
This year a week ago, I started her with loratidine (Claritin) NOT CLARITIN "D": Which contains pseudoephedrine, toxic for dogs.
As soon as I saw her start to chew this season, I sprayed her paws with alcohol free bitter apple.
And started her on Claritin. Next season I will start the allergy pills earlier, to avoid using any bitter apple at all.
But as she is only 2, we are still determining her allergy overload seasons.
My goal is to avoid steroids this season.
And the bitter apple was just a quick fix for 3 days until her Claritin started working, as chewing can lead to infection.
 
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