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What does it mean when dog licks her bottom and chews toe nails?

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What does it mean when...

What does it mean when my dog licks her bottom and chews on her toe nails all the time?

Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 8 minutes by:
9/19/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 33,761
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Licking her anus is likely to indicate an itchy anusitis (inflammation of the iris) and chewing on her itchy extremities are signs of a more general allergic dermatitis such as atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollen, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.) and, less commonly, food intolerance.

Environmental allergies (atopy) are usually initially addressed with prednisone as well. In some dogs an over the counter antihistamine such as clemastine (Tavist) at a dose of 0.025 - 0.75mg/lb twice daily or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) dosed at 1-2mg/lb twice daily (maximum dose of 50 mg at any one time) may be effective. Antihistamines, however, aren’t reliably effective. Adding fish oil to the diet at a dose of 20mg/lb daily of the EPA in the fish oil might synergize with antihistamines to provide better anti-pruritic action. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are anti inflammatory but may take 8-12 weeks to kick in. The new oral immunotherapy using the cytokine antagonist oclacitinib (Apoquel) is likely to revolutionize how we address atopic dogs and should be discussed with her vet. Oclacitinib works as well as a steroid without a steroid's adverse effects. The new injectable immunotherapy with the monoclonal antibody IL-31 should also be discussed with her vet. Please note that atopy, at least initially, should have a seasonality to it while a food intolerance should cause pruritis regardless of the season. Chronically atopic dogs may be pruritic year round.

Food intolerance/allergy is addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that her immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from her vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra. (I prefer the hydrolyzed protein diets because it avoids the possibility of my patient being intolerant to even a novel protein.) A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago

My dog has a bad smell from her ears.

Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago

It's common for ears to become "reactive" as another sign of either atopy or food intolerance. A reactive ear becomes inflamed and secretes more wax than usual. That wax becomes rancid and smelly and usually contains a heavy load of yeast (Malassezia). These ears can be irrigated by her vet and then an ointment or solution prescribed that will reduce the inflammation and kill the yeast (and bacteria) that have overgrown. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago

Do you have over the counter ointment I can use?

Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago

You can alternate an over the counter ointment containing either miconazole, clotrimazole, or terbinafine found in the foot fungus section of your local drug store with an over the counter hydrocortisone-containing ointment every 6 hours. You should fist thoroughly cleanse the ears with an over the counter ear wash for dogs found where dog supplies are sold.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago

I feed my dog table food sometimes. Is it okay

Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago

I do too. It's OK as long as the rest of his diet is mainly dog food.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago

Okay and thanks.

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