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Dr. Andy
Dr. Andy, Medical Director
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 30729
Experience:  UC Davis Graduate, Interests: Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Pain Management
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My Blk Lab is obessive chewing herself raw on one of here paws.

Customer Question

My Blk Lab is obessive chewing herself raw on one of here paws. She has done this since she was a puppy. They had her on generic prozac for over 2ys. but it really seem to help. (she was still chewing) I weened her off. now I took her to a different vet and he asked if I ever had her thyroid checked. I sad no, so he took blood and told me her thyroid was on the low side.(whatever that means) They put her on Thyro-tabs. .05 mg, she's been on it for2 months and she is still chewing. So I stopped them because I was told by someone that thyroid meds could ruin her liver or more. I don't know what to do. She is 4 yrs old and is very active and has been. I thought signs for thyroid meds would be an inactive and lethargic dog. She is not. He said the meds would maybe help her stop the obsesive chewing but cause the test came back low levels on the thyroid. What do you think is the problem and is it true that my poor dog may already be effected from being on this medicine?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 8 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
Dr. Andy :

Hello, I am reviewing your question now.

Dr. Andy :

Wow...we have a lot of stuff to correct.

Dr. Andy :

Let's start with the thyroid.

Dr. Andy :

I do not see younger pets often that I truly hypothyroid (that is, low thyroid hormone). When you do see them, they tend to be pets that are overweight, older, and pant at unusually times. So, why did the second vet say the thyroid was low. Well, you can have some borderline levels, and maybe the vet was trying to push for a diagnosis. However, many vets forget that if you take a "regular T4" thyroid level (which is what usually comes with a blood test), and you try to interpret it when a pet is sick or on medications, it can be "falsely" low. So, personally, your vet should have not started the thyro-tabs until they ran a test called a "t4 by equilibrium dialysis". It is very accurate and would have helped to confirm if your dog was truly hypothyroid.

Dr. Andy :

Moving on.

Customer:

I'm sorry I meant to say the generic prozac DIDN'T seem to help

Dr. Andy :

The paw licking. Now, I would tend to agree that it suggests a behavioral issue when only one foot is being chewed or licked. However, if there has been any licking of any other paws, and/or any history of ear infections, it is screaming to me that this problem is allergy related. Probably the #1 or #2 symptom of food and/or environmental allergies is feet licking or chewing. This should have been considered at least at some point.

Dr. Andy :

Next...the prozac...it helped but the chewing continued. That gives another vote for possibly a underlying allergy issue that was never addressed. I could be wrong.

Dr. Andy :

Next...the thyroid medication ruining the liver. I have never experienced that problem....ever

Dr. Andy :

They could be referring to the thyroid medication a CAT gets. That does the opposite effect and treats the opposite condition (hyperthyroidism).

Dr. Andy :

So, I don't believe your pet has in ANYWAY been harmed by thyro-tabs. If anything, long-term prozac use would have had more of a chance to cause a little harm.

Dr. Andy :

So, in summary, I too, still have no idea what is wrong. But, I am suspicious for an underlying allergy issue. Why not. No one has even chased it as a problem, and food allergies in particular can start at a VERY young age. So, I would consult a dermatologist next to see what they say. I wouldn't bother with any other general practice vets or they will just continue throwing random ideas at you.

Customer:

Alergic reaction as to what? and taking her off the thyriod med like I did wont mess her up in any way I hope?

Dr. Andy :

As a last resort. Steroids are a common treatment to tend to allergies. You can always do a trial run on a steroid and see if your pet responds.

Dr. Andy :

Well, I wouldn't worry about the thyroid. In fact, your probably better taking her completely off of it for awhile, and then let the dermatologist do the T4 by E.D. test to see if she ever was hypothyroid. If I had to guess. I say she is not. A guess.

Dr. Andy :

Allergic reaction to what? Tough call. Here's a bunch of my typical info I would give to a pet I know has allergy issues. It's worth a read for you just in case:

Dr. Andy :

 


So, to rule-out food allergies you need to do a diet trial.
Summary: The primary protein in most dog foods is lamb, chicken, or beef. The primary carbohydrate is rice or corn. So, we need to change both. The most popular alternative diets are Venison and Potato, Duck and Potato, or Fish and Potato. It is available in prescription formulas (i.e. Science Diet D/D) or you can find some similar foods at the big pet stores like PetSmart or PetCo. Just make sure that when they say Venison is the "main ingredient" they don't sneak in other stuff like lamb meal or fish meal. Those would be poor choices. A non-prescription option would include Dick Van Patten's brand called Natural Balance. Keep in mind, holistic or all-natural foods are not necessarily any better when trying to remove a food allergy. Chicken is chicken, and rice is rice. When you perform a diet trial, you must stick with the food for 2-3 months to see if there is any benefit. NO OTHER treats or human food can be given during this time period. Another option to really chase after food allergies as the cause of the problem, is to start a prescription food called Science Diet Z/D or Z/D ultra.


Here is some more information about food allergies:


 


Food Allergies


 


INFORMATION ON SCIENCE DIET D/D, Z/D, and HYPOALLERGENIC TREATS:


SCIENCE DIET FOODS


.


Also, definitely read about ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGIES (atopy). Some pets, suffer from both environmental and food allergies:


Atopy (environmental allergies)


 


If you want to actual diagnose what in the environment may be causing the allergy, you can do an allergy test. Now, you don't have to shave half the body and do the old grid test on the skin. There is now a rather good blood test that looks for allergies to weeds, trees, grasses!, molds, even house dust mites. You can read more about it here:


 


Testing for Environmental Allergies


.


VARL allergy testing


 


If your veterinarian does not offer VARL, they may offer a comparable company to perform the blood test.


 

Dr. Andy :

I think I have exhausted about everything I can comment on.

Dr. Andy :

I hope that helps.

Dr. Andy :

Dr. Andy

Customer:

Oh she had been on steriods before and it did work but I was told she coudn't be on them for long periods

Dr. Andy :

:)

Dr. Andy :

Not entirely true. Also, that should have clued the vet to possible allergies as the cause. There are alternative medications like Atopica (read below) or Temaril-P (a antihistamine with a very low dose of steroid( that can be used long-term.

Dr. Andy :

 


Atopica

Dr. Andy :

Well...I need to grab a bite to eat. If you want to review the info I sent so far, I hope that covers it all. I am very suspicious for food issues and possibly a environmental component as well.

Dr. Andy :

You'll need a really good vet, and ideally, a dermatologist to get this all sorted out for you.

Dr. Andy :

If you need more info, i'll reply just shortly after eating. Dr. Andy

Customer:

THANKS FOR INFO

Dr. Andy :

Your welcome. Tough question when you have had a lot of misdirection. Good Luck

Customer:

Thanks

Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 8 years ago.
Chat Conversation Ended

Your expert is gathering additional information and will be back with you shortly.
Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 8 years ago.

I also greatly appreciate positive feedback after you accept, if you have found the advice helpful or informative. Thanks

Dr. Andy