Stop licking your paw little buddy. No, really.. stop.
February 5, 2014 12:19 PM   Subscribe

My dog, aka the world's sweetest corgi, won't stop licking his paw. He's been wearing the cone of shame now for six months. What are we or the vet not thinking of? What else can we try?

It all started with a granuloma on his paw that was irritating him. So the vet removed it and patched him up and things healed up nicely. The cone was put on till the paw healed. And yay, it healed! And then we took the cone off. He started licking his paw again. We came home from work and he had licked his paw RAW. Bloody raw. Back to the vet we go... After some lab work, an x-ray, and a diagnosis of nothing physically wrong, the cone went back on and started him on some anti-anxiety and anti-bacterial creams. Several weeks later he's all healed up and the cone comes off! And the licking instantly begins, so the cone goes back on.

- We've tried clove oil... that worked for a week until he suddenly decided he liked the taste. Cone went back on.

- Pepper Oil... check. Cone back on.

- Supervised increasing time with cone off. Check. Obsessive licking of paw begins. Cone back on.

- Anti-anxiety meds, salves, creams, x-rays, physical exams, bloodworm. Check, check, and check. Obsessive licking continues.

What are we or the vets not thinking of? The only time he's not interested in licking his paw into a bloody pulp is when he's eating or being taken for a walk. If it helps he's an 11 year old male Pembroke Corgi. What do we do? Is he going to have to spend the rest of his life wearing the cone of shame?
posted by matty to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We are struggling with the same issue with a 13 year old beagle, although in his case he licks to a point of irritation, but not to a point where he bleeds. We've given up. We tried all the same stuff you did. The Vet thinks it might be the early stages of doggie Alzheimer's, and given some other weird behaviors recently I suspect she is right.

When he starts to lick we immediately distract him, which seems like it helps for a while. But it sounds like your dog is more neurotic about it than ours. Before it got brutally cold it seemed like he would be too tired after a walk to bother with his paws for a few hours, so you might try that if you live somewhere not buried in snow right now.
posted by COD at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2014

He can wear a long sock. A sock with a shoe on the end, that goes all the way up his leg, and be fastened over his elbow or knee. That way, at least he will not have to wear the cone.
posted by cairdeas at 12:36 PM on February 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Have you tried anything for allergies? Either environmental allergies or food allergies?
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:37 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Aww, poor little guy. I would attempt to go cairdeas' route and cover up his paw in whatever way you can. I wonder if he'd be amenable to some self-adhesive wrap, or if he'd just shred it off and get at his foot anyway?
posted by phunniemee at 12:38 PM on February 5, 2014

Also, I checked your list, and one thing I didn't see on it was anti-histamines. My dog chews because of skin allergies, but he always starts with the same spot on his body when he is having an allergic reaction. Might be worth a try.
posted by cairdeas at 12:38 PM on February 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

When my dog went nuts on his paw we tried lots of things too. Turns out it was fleas and specifically a flea bite in a sensitive area between the pads. We only ever saw fleas after giving him a bath with flea shampoo, and even then there were only like 4 dead fleas in the water. A fews days later the chewing stopped completely.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:42 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

A rich full life might help. I have a dog who enjoys a nice paw when she doesn't have enough to do.

Training - any kind. Teach your dog to impersonate Joan Crawford if that's your interest. Just be calm and thoughtful about it. Use just raw activity like ball chasing for being amped up.

Brain Games are good. This is a random link. Plenty of stuff out there. Frozen Kongs frozen in blocks of ice are good (albeit not great for teeth and messy.)

Good luck. This is the worst. Try not to beat yourself up. At least your dog stays in the cone of shame.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

My late, great chow mix had horrible bouts with hot spots and also licked his paws. Nothing seemed to help until I mentioned it to someone at the pet store, who suggested I try eliminating chicken in addition to his grain-free diet. The food I tried was Merrick Buffalo and Sweet Potato Recipe and it completely eliminated both problems.

I have no idea if there is a medical connection, I just know it worked for my dog and hers.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:54 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you checked for any other sores or things that could be causing him pain on the rest of his body?

When my dog begins to lick her paw obsessively, it's usually because there's another part on her body that's hurting her. She has very sensitive skin, so usually it's something itchy or a cyst that burst.
posted by cyml at 12:55 PM on February 5, 2014

Thanks for the feedback so far! I'll give the vet a call and see about the possibility of allergies and anti-histamines. We'll also try the diet suggestion.

Self-adhesive wrap: Lasted about an hour.
Flea dip: The little one gets a flea bath every 2 weeks. He's also on Heartguard.
Rich full life: He gets a nice walk twice a day, but I'll try to give him more to focus on than just his paw!

Other parts of body hurting: he had back surgery about a year ago because of degenerative disc disease, but he'd healed up before the licking began. I've checked every inch of him, but it won't hurt for the vet to give him another exam.

Again, I appreciate the feedback. We're willing to try anything as it's just miserable for him and us both.
posted by matty at 12:59 PM on February 5, 2014

Walking is fun for a dog. But it's not much work. Corgies are, in my experience, smart and fierce and want to show what they can do. I have seen Corgies on cattle.

Phone linking is sketchy so I respectfully ask you to do some Googling for ways to make the dog think, solve problems, and learn self control.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The one staring at me is the one with the bad paw, the other one just uses me.

I am but a corgi pillow...
posted by matty at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

I've heard a lot about paw licking in connection with yeast infections.

Perhaps you tried to cover that with your cream treatments you mentioned above. My dogs get yeasty ears and they do dig in them, and stop as soon as they are treated.
posted by Lardmitten at 1:19 PM on February 5, 2014

Coming in to second allergies. Our dogs licks his skin in two particular places and we have to keep an eye on him or he will develop a sore.
posted by michellenoel at 1:19 PM on February 5, 2014

Sounds like classic grass allergies to me. I have a dog that does it all summer long, my other dog does this all winter long as the cold, snow and ice bother his feet. My grass allergy dog goes on steriods from time to time when the licking gets too bad or gets benadryl. It might be any easy way to see if it's an allergy of some sort to talk to the vet about dosage and try him on benadryl for a week or so.

Have you tried booties or a sock on his foot to stop him licking it?
posted by wwax at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried dog booties?

If it is snowy and cold, salt might be causing him to lick his paws. Of course it dissolves when he licks it, so you might not see it. In addition, if he has any irritation from licking, he is going to want to lick more as dogs have this 'if something is wrong keep licking it' idea.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2014

Oh my gosh, that stare, "fix me, Dad, fix me, Dad, fix me ..."

Could it be environmental? Do you have carpets or use a chemical cleaner on your floors at home? Maybe try the antihistamine route, and changing something to do with your floors?
posted by thinkpiece at 1:24 PM on February 5, 2014

I had a friend with a dog that would lick its tail raw, turns out the dog was allergic to something in her food. Once the dog was switched to a grain-free food the licking stopped, though she did develop some wicked gas (the dog, not the friend).
posted by carnivoregiraffe at 1:25 PM on February 5, 2014

My corgi i had when i was growing up did this.

Despite the vets most valiant checks, he had a tiny piece of glass embedded in his foot. Eventually it pushed out(MONTHS later) enough to be noticeable, and the vet managed to make a tiny cut and yank it out.

Not that this is necessarily your issue, but worth thinking about maybe?
posted by emptythought at 1:37 PM on February 5, 2014

I have a corgi she stares at me just like that. They can get bored and anxious very easily so you need to keep them active and distracted. I would go with the suggestions of more exercise and playtime. Does he get things to chew on? Pig hoofs are very popular here but they do stink.
posted by Requiax at 1:39 PM on February 5, 2014

What is this dog eating? Because obsessive paw licking to me means stress* or allergies.

Bordeom is stressful.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Possibly anal glands need emptying? Though I know you've said you've checked everything. But it's such an odd connection you might not think of it.
That's one of just many links that come up if you google paw licking anal glands
posted by sianifach at 2:45 PM on February 5, 2014

I know you said you tried clove oil and so forth, but have you tried a spray on liquid bandage? This stuff is our go to solution for when our German Border Terrier (TM) begins to eat her feet.

It does two things, it sprays a protective coating to help the wound heal and it tastes nasty to keep them from chewing.

Seriously, I accidentally got some of this stuff in my mouth and I honestly had no idea you could puke out of both your nose and mouth simultaneously. It was hell.

Our girl can goes from chewing on her foot like it's made of rawhide to a sample lick and then to staring at you with hate in her heart because you made her foot taste like death with just one spray.
posted by teleri025 at 2:48 PM on February 5, 2014

My parents had a soft coated wheaten terrier that would incessantly lick its paws and whimper for years. They tried everything. What finally worked was an oral anti-fungal medication. Both they and the dog were thrilled.
posted by funkiwan at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2014

Gold bond in the green can. Great for hotspots and licking.
posted by meeshell at 6:12 PM on February 5, 2014

1) Vetericyn as a stopgap treatment

2) I bet dollars to donuts this is a food or environmental allergy. What food is she currently eating? I'd try something like Brothers Complete or another grain-free novel protein dog food, like Duck or Venison or Fish only. Our dog goes into paw-eating and skin-scratching mode with lots of high quality dog foods that have chicken or potato in them. Right now he's on Orijen 6-fish and doing well. If you post her current food, I'll help you locate another option!
posted by barnone at 6:16 PM on February 5, 2014

3) What kind of shampoo/conditioner are you using?

I would stop with whatever flea shampoo you're using. It might be drying out her skin and making it worse. Virbac makes a number of amazing shampoos and leave-in lotions. There are different options, and if you go to the Virbac website they can help you choose which ones to try, and you could ask your vet if any of them are better for her situation.

Sometimes our dog gets a bath at the kennel, even though I tell them NOT to, and I can always tell because he gets itchy. A bath with this stuff calms it all down.

4) Distraction. Get a kong, fill with his food and peanut butter and yogurt and a bit of cheese or carrot peels, and freeze. It'll take him awhile to dig it all out, and that may get out some of his "must lick something" anxiety.
posted by barnone at 6:22 PM on February 5, 2014

My Corgi was an obsessive licker too, although more of the floor than her feet. She also had mega-allergies so would get obsessive about creating hot spots. She was on allergy meds (Hydroxyzine) and occasionally a dose of Temaril P. Has your vet thought about allergies?

Also you said he gets a flea bath, but is he on flea prevention? Heartgard is only for heartworms. Ideally the dog should also be on one of the newer flea preventions like Comfortis, or you can get a combo flea/heartworm like Trifexis.
posted by radioamy at 8:14 PM on February 5, 2014

My cairn had a long history of hot spots on his hips. It was a nightmare. He lived on steroids and every flea, dry skin shampoo and conditioner available. He never had any evidence of flea activity on his body. No fleas, no flea dirt.

The Vet decided that any bite by any insect would set him off. He is on Comfortis at the dose right above his weight range. It is a miracle drug for us. None of the other flea meds worked like this does. He has not had a hot spot in over a year. He is also on a grain free chicken free food but it was the Comfortis that solved the problem.

Good luck.
posted by cairnoflore at 10:53 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's always one of two fixes at our house:

Calming salve on the paw with a sock over the paw and a little masking tape around the top of the sock to keep it on.

The sock is a lot easier to deal with than the cone - for us and for the dog. You'll have to do a little adjusting to get the feel for how tight the tape needs to be - tight enough not to fall off but not so tight that it's uncomfortable enough to worry off.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2014

How are things going? Let me know if you need other detective help. I've been down this path with my dog and many other dogs, and am happy to offer my tips.
posted by barnone at 8:08 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, we switched out his dog food and started a round of steroids per the vets recommendation. After 14 days on the steroid, he's still licking! Next stop... Benadryl.
posted by matty at 12:42 PM on March 8, 2014

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