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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28538
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My dog came home last night and started chasing s tail and

Customer Question

My dog came home last night and started chasing his tail and nipping at his front paws. He was chasing his tail about every 15-20minutes and this went on all night. The only thing I can think of that is different at home is that I sprayed my roses with Deer Fence before he came in. I am wondering if he got it on him and doesn't like the smell or maybe allergies?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: Buddy and he is 11 1/2-we adopted him not quite a year ago and he has always chased his tail somewhat but usually just in the morning when we are getting ready for the day.....
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Buddy?
Customer: He is on thyroid meds and does have skin problems associated with that....
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Buddy is exhibiting a classic sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs - mood/behavioral disorders characterized by repetitive, invariant, patterned behaviors that are exaggerated in intensity, frequency, and duration given the inciting stimuli (i.e., expressed out of context). The behavior interferes with health and well-being. A genetic predisposition is suspected but anecdotally, certain syndromes are more commonly associated with some breeds: for example, tail chasing in German shepherd, bull terrier, Parson and ***** ***** terriers. Risk factors are stressful or traumatic events or a lack of a daily routine or a change in a well-established routine. His feet nipping is likely to represent behavioral transference - in this case, his feet substituting for his tail.

You mentioned that this occurred after he came home. Where had he gone and could it have been traumatic for him?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He goes to work with my husband every day and he does have a new employee that started yesterday but.....Buddy is a cattle dog and I have read they are prone to this. That being said-his former life was very sedentary & when we got him he was very overweight/obese.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Yes, that breed is certainly "high-strung" and prone to this type of behavior. The new employee might be incriminated. It can be a challenge to identify and eliminate trigger events/situation in these patients. If possible, these pets need to be redirected to an alternative and incompatible behavior such as licking food from a toy instead of chasing and nipping and then calmly rewarded for any spontaneous calm behavior. Treatment, if necessary, usually is a combination of behavioral and environmental modification and psychotropic medication. Please continue our conversation if you wish.