Please help our poor, sad dog.
February 24, 2011 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Any idea what is causing my dog to chew her back feet, all of a sudden?

In the last couple of weeks, our 11 year old female lab has started licking and nibbling the edges of her ankles and rear feet. They are now raw and bleeding. She's been on thyroid medication for about 3 months without noticeable side effects (but I've read that itching can be a side effect). We carefully dry salt residue from her feet after walks. We'll be taking her to the vet soon but can't imagine what he'll do apart from putting a bucket on her head. She's had hot spots in the past that he's treated with an antihistamine injection. Is this likely to be the same kind of thing?

Anybody else have any experience with this situation?
posted by bonobothegreat to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Licking feet is a often a sign of an allergy, so yes, an antihistamine may help in that situation.

Dogs can be given low doses of Benadryl. But be careful with that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yup. Allergies. Just took my golden to the vet for the same thing. She got a small cortisone shot, antihistamine pills, anti-yeast pills, and is supposed to take 50mg of Benedryl twice a day.
posted by cecic at 8:52 PM on February 24, 2011

2 milligrams of benadryl per pound for dogs- though if you have never given your dog benadryl before, please go see a real veterinarian and have your dog checked out.
posted by TheBones at 9:01 PM on February 24, 2011

Actually, diphenhydramine is pretty safe for dogs. Their bodies process it a lot better than humans do. But if she's at the point that she's already broken the skin and is continuing to dig at it, I doubt it's going to provide much (if any) noticeable difference.

If it were my dog, and if she'll tolerate it, I'd toss some neosporin (or, ideally, Animax, which you may have around from her previous hotspot issues) and try to wrap the spots in something. Socks with masking tape or whatever MacGuyver-esque contraption you can figure out to keep her from picking at those sores, but at this point you're probably looking at minimizing the size/bleeding than you are preventing a bacterial infection (which she probably already has). Get her to the (non-emergency) vet at your earliest convenience and they'll likely hook her up with a quick-acting steroidal shot and a round of anti-bacterials. Most of the time, that will knock it out.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:04 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

My olddog has arthritis and has licked the joints of his feet, ankles and knees bald and raw. Only after starting pretty intense anti-inflammatory meds has the hair grown back, but he will still worry at them occasionally.
posted by lilnublet at 9:06 PM on February 24, 2011

if it's bad enough that she's broken skin, something may be in there - one of our dogs keeps getting grass seeds stuck in his feet :( they work their way in, and then the vet has to look for it. Once they've been able to find it with just local anesthetic, once they had to put him out entirely.
posted by ansate at 9:10 PM on February 24, 2011

Dogs who have anxiety chew their feet sometimes.
posted by grak88 at 10:05 PM on February 24, 2011

Yes, could be an allergy, but my dog once had a slight cut which led to an infection and he just wouldn't stop licking/chewing his foot. Bringing him to the vet, they gave us a topical spray that took care of the infection and within a day, he had stopped licking/chewing.
posted by rich at 3:37 AM on February 25, 2011

My dog had the same thing - he was on antibiotics for a while along with some generic benadryl (as an aside, you can find that stuff (diphenhydramine) at Sam's for about 4$ for 400 tabs. I was amazed!) and it seems to have helped a great deal.

The vet was fine with us giving him 2 tabs 2x a day (he's just under 50lbs) and it's calmed the itching down quite a bit.

Nthing seeing a vet to make a proper determination but this seems to be fairly common.

Good luck!
posted by Mysticalchick at 5:51 AM on February 25, 2011

First see vet.

My 12-year-old dog was constantly licking her hip/legs on one side to the point of leaving the spot she was laying in soaking wet. We thought she was incontinent. Two days worth of pain more licking...she was in pain. FWIW, our vet prescribed tramadol.
posted by teg4rvn at 7:12 AM on February 25, 2011

I don't disagree with things said here, but it's worth it to check the quick and easy first: Are her nails too long? How about the hair in between her pads?
posted by cmoj at 8:52 AM on February 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the spectrum of opinion here. She's been stiff for a while but groaning more as of late, so maybe some general pain medication is in order. The nail length may be contributing as well, so we'll shorten them some more.

We'll ask the vet.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2011

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