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Canine Behavior/Chewing on feet occasionally

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Question
I have a 7 year old female Brittany Spaniel. I've noticed her chewing on her back feet and front feet/wrists in the past. She recently started doing it again. I'm assuming her feet are bothering her, I feel like she's in pain maybe its arthritis? She runs around and stuff like usual, she's very happy and playful but she is getting old. Maybe it's allergies so her feet itch? Her vet gave me cortisoothe shampoo a few years ago for allergy in her skin but it's expired now. Is that something I should purchase again? I will be taking her to the vet sometime in May.

Answer
Thank you for your question. At 7 years old, your dog is only just reaching her middle age as the Brittany Spaniel has a typical lifespan of between 14-15 years.

As I am not a vet, I cannot diagnose your dog, nor could a vet without an in-person exam. But, since this dog has a history of allergies that manifest as itchy feet (quite common manifestation, actually), it is very possible that she is experiencing seasonal allergies.

Do not use any expired medicated shampoo without consulting your vet. I would strongly encourage you to see your vet this week, rather than waiting until next month. If she's uncomfortable, you and licking/scratching as you've described, then you should be speaking with your vet today to see if they can prescribe either a topical or oral or injected medication. They may wish to give her a cortisone shot to bring the itch down completely and then follow that with an oral low dose medication to be taken for a few weeks or through the summer. Or they may prescribe another medicated shampoo.

Keep in mind that frequent licking/biting can open the skin with small sores which can make her vulnerable to Staph and other skin infections. So you shouldn't wait as she may need antibiotics or anti-fungals as well as anti-itch medication.

Again, I cannot diagnose your dog, nor can a vet without an actual exam. But I wouldn't ignore this issue. If this were my dog, and the itching had been going on daily for 3 days, I would be at my vet getting it looked at. Better to err on the side of false alarm than miss something treatable until it becomes more serious.

Good luck. Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist
http://GoodDog-DogTraining.com

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

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IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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