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ChristineLVT, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3307
Experience:  Licensed veterinary technician (B.S. Mercy College), 10 yrs in animal medicine and training
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I have a ten and a half month old male Maltese. He chews his

Resolved Question:

I have a ten and a half month old male Maltese. He chews his back paws and eats his fur. What causes this behavior?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  ChristineLVT replied 7 years ago.

Allergies, either to food, or an environmental or contact allergy, usually presents itchy toes and feet, and can spread over the body as well. It's very possible that the licking/chewing can irritate the feet and body a bit more than usual and it could turn to self-induced infection if not treated quickly.

I would start by soothing and disinfecting the toes by soaking in diluted chlorhexiderm or betadine in warm water (1 part solution to 10 parts water); if he'll let you, soak the feet for 5 minutes, or at least rinse if you can do that much. Sometimes it's hard to keep them still!

As long as he is healthy otherwise, you can try some benadryl (“diphenhydramine”) OTC as well, at a dose of 1mg per pound of body weight for the itching. (The dose range is 1 to 2 mg, with 1mg being safer and more common, but you can round slightly up or down to get easiest dosing with the tablets or capsules). Capsules are much easier than liquid, as you can hide it in a meatball of anything your dog likes to eat. You'll have to read the package to see how many mg are in each tablet/capsule. Don't repeat the benadryl more than once every 8 hours, and if not helping, then unfortunately a vet will be needed as it may have become infected enough to require oral antibiotics or your dog may need injectable, longer lasting steroid to control the allergies.

Since he is young, you may want to consider trying a novel protein diet (like a duck/potato, venison, rabbit or buffalo protein based food) but do know it takes 8 full weeks of strict new diet with no added treats or bones to get rid of the allergen.

Let me know if I can help further, and good luck!


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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I just realized that the area around his eyes is very red and irritated and he has managed to scratch and cut himself a bit is this due to the same allergy? I keep his hair up in a top knot to avoid getting hair in his eyes to avoid infection. It seems that he has more "guck" than normal around his eyes. I brush and clean his eyes on a daily basis. This literally has happened overnight. Is there something I can apply around his eye?

Expert:  ChristineLVT replied 7 years ago.
Possibly not. If it is involving his eye area and feet, there's a good chance he has mange. I would strongly suggest a skin scraping which takes only minutes from your vet. This way, the proper medication can be given.

For the gunk, use sterile saline (like that found in regular contact lens rinses) to rinse the eyes themselves out once a day, and wipe gently to dry the skin around the eyes with a soft cloth or cotton. Nothing is going to help around the eyes and may get in the eyes to irritate them further... it's best to get a real diagnosis, and hopefully this is what is going on with the feet as well- which will be quicker to treat and cheaper as well, than allergies.