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Dog seems to be self harming

(23 Posts)
Smitten1981 Sun 26-Jul-15 16:40:31

Hello, I'm hoping someone can help. Sorry this is long.

I have a nearly 3 year old Bichon/shih tzu cross and she seems to have a problem with licking her legs and also scratching the side of her nose and the side of her ears until she bleeds and gets scabs. We had to give her a sponge down this morning as she'd mauled her shoulder so badly there was quite a lot of blood.

She goes to a groomer's regularly so her fur is well looked after but the noise she makes when she scratches is terrible, like a squeal. I'm not sure what the problem is but I think it might be more of an anxiety thing than a skin complaint.

I'm not sure it's separation anxiety as someone is at home with her for most of the day during the week. She's left alone Tuesdays and Wednesday's as I'm at work then but we leave at half 8, I come home for an hour at lunch and then we're back for 6pm. We leave her a treat ball to keep her occupied and leave the radio on. She goes out for two walks a day.

I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do to help her. We had a very good trainer to see her a year ago about her barking, took her to training and agility classes. I don't know what to do to help her anymore.

Has anyone got any advice as to how I can help stop her self harming?

W00woo Sun 26-Jul-15 16:46:05

Our dog does this as she has extreamly sensitive skin and is allergic to everything. She has daily tablets now and no more excessive licking or scratching (touch wood). Please see a vet. I am sure they will be able to help you like they did us.

Smitten1981 Sun 26-Jul-15 16:47:02

I was wondering if I should take her to the vet, I'll make an appointment first thing tomorrow.

Wolfiefan Sun 26-Jul-15 16:47:14

Could it be an allergy? My DM's dog mauls her own feet if mum walks her over certain grasses.

LimeJellyHead Sun 26-Jul-15 17:35:42

I sympathise. Skin issues can be some of the most difficult to diagnose and treat. I think it sounds like a skin issue or allergy. It may also become a habit as well which you may also have to break but for now you need to try to find out what is bothering her.

First check for the obvious like fleas or ear mites etc... And talking of those nasties, if you treat her with spot-ons or flea sprays or anything like that, try alternatives for a while in case any treatments or meds are making her sore or uncomfortable.

Get a really mild, itchy dog or medicated shampoo. Look online or ask your vet. I mention this because you say she goes to the groomer a lot and what they use on her might be too harsh or aggravating her skin. Ask them not to put anything on her like finishing sprays or perfume. Change your own washing powder to something mild or for sensitive skin for when you wash her bedding and don't use fabric conditioner for her stuff.

Then I would start cutting certain things out of her diet. If she is fed shop brought food, try ones that are gluten free or wheat free or sensitive etc... Then try cutting out certain meats or fish to see if it is any of those. And make sure her food is good and not full of cereals and fillers.

If she walks on grass areas, you might also want to consider a Medical Pet Shirt and maybe even boots for a trial period just to rule out a grass allergy. Where they lick and bother is not always where is hurting them.

I'm not saying don't go to the vet but I do think if you can give those things a try it would be better. A good vet is likely to make many of those suggestions anyway. With some vets you risk them prescribing your dog steroids without even trying anything else first. That won't cure the issue, only mask it. Steroids are also bad for their health even after just a few weeks of use. I am afraid many vets will offer that as a solution and I think that needs to be a last resort.

Good luck.

GraysAnalogy Sun 26-Jul-15 17:44:23

You need to rule out any skin conditions first before going to behavioural. Otherwise you risk trying to train the behaviours out of her, even though she's suffering physically. I know how hard this is for you, my adopted dog has absolutely terrible skin conditions and it took a lot of trial and error to get things right. Like you we saw him hurting himself, his skin would be red raw and bleeding.

We changed diet, mediated shampoos, avoided grass, removed irritants from the home like air freshners and things like that. Nothing worked.

He's now steroids long term (which will eventually make him ill) whilst we wait for the wonder drug Apoquel. I don't like him being on steroids but otherwise his life is a misery and I can't see him live like that.

I would go to your vet and see what they say. If you did have a short course of steroids and they worked, there's proof it's a physical problem not a psychological one.

Best of luck to you both

Smitten1981 Sun 26-Jul-15 17:56:24

Thanks everyone. That's all really helpful. I'll start with the vets and see what they say.

WeAllHaveWings Sun 26-Jul-15 18:33:07

After my BIL had a close bereavement we volunteered to look after his dog for a couple of months until he got settled (ended up it took 3 years).

The dog, a Doberman, was around 3 years old when it came to us with recently developed skin problems, lots of scratching, dry skin, scabs/bleeding which he was treating with various soothing shampoos (he was a bit skint/vet adverse/fed the dog crap). We took to the vet and he was prescribed antibiotics/steroids to clear it up and was advised to feed a special diet (with absolutely no treats) and within a month he was almost clear and stopped scratching.

LetThereBeCupcakes Mon 27-Jul-15 11:13:58

My Dad's cats do this - turned out to be a food intollerance. What are you feeding?

Smitten1981 Mon 27-Jul-15 22:43:38

We've tried the lot over time. Science Plan, Royal Canin, Pro Plan, Bakers & Chappie out of desperation when the expensive stuff didn't get eaten. None of it makes any difference.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 27-Jul-15 23:31:12

Have a look at the allaboutdogfood site. All those foods you've listed, even the expensive ones, are poorly rated.

If you can't do raw (I can't either) Look for a good quality food that's grain free, with good protien sources.

Then try different protien sources (some dogs don't tolerate chicken well) to see if that helps. We use millies wolfheart and it has different protien sources you can try (all recipes have no grain or chicken), there are other brands of similar quality you can try.

GraysAnalogy Mon 27-Jul-15 23:59:43

Look into hypoallergenic foods too, they don't have to be expensive. Also we had to switch to fairy washing powder because even hanging clothes out that were washed in anything different made his itching worse.

We've never got to the bottom of his allergies because it seems to be so many different things so it's medication for us sad

Adarajames Tue 28-Jul-15 00:06:35

Definitely try and cut wheat and all other grains of you can, from his diet. Also sugar beet/beet in foods can trigger problems.
I've switched dogs to raw feeding, including salmon oil, and it's been almost miraculous how quickly skin / ear / itching issues have cleared up, and have gained a shiney coat too. Introducing wheat once more took us straight back to he problems. Raw feeding is easy and can done more cheaply than using these so called vet prescribed special diets which are ridiculously expensive, and pretty crap to be honest!

Bibitybobity Tue 28-Jul-15 00:18:51

Bichon breeds are notorious for skin conditions. Mine goes thro phases of nibbling and licking with no obvious triggers. Thankfully we've never needed steroids yet. I'd check with the vet as anxiety licking is rarely as destructive as you describe

CarmelasFridge Tue 28-Jul-15 00:38:19

I knew this would be a Bichon! They're Hot Spots, not self harming! A bugger to get rid of. I use Johnson's Anti-scratch spray and the odd dab of Canestan cream. He often gets ear mites too and the Johnson's Ear Drops clear them up.

Little fluffy divas...

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 28-Jul-15 07:47:16

As wings said all of those foods are red flags IMO. Try burns (they do a sensitive one - Pork & Potato flavour) or James Wellbeloved. You can try putting a little warm water on them and letting them soak for a bit to encrouage her to eat it.

Smitten1981 Wed 29-Jul-15 20:52:11

Thanks all that's very helpful. I'll reassess the food and rule out mites, hopefully. I'll have a quick hot spot Google too!

Adarajames Thu 30-Jul-15 11:45:10

I git a fab natural oils spray for when had itchy foster dogs, arromesse, also make a horse one! Bonus is it smells fab too grin

Smitten1981 Thu 30-Jul-15 20:56:23

Ok so the guys at Pets Corner recommended this food. Hope it helps...

TooMuchRain Thu 30-Jul-15 21:26:59

I'm not an expert at all but my lovely dog has had some problems and it could be worth asking your vet about possible abnormalities with the mast cells, they regulate histamines

GraysAnalogy Thu 30-Jul-15 22:20:02

It's good that it's grain free, lots of dogs are allergic to that. Chicken is also something quite a few dogs with allergies can't tolerate though. But hopefully it'll be good! We have a hypoallergenic one, it's good and he doesn't fart anymore but didn't stop the itching.

Have you tried giving her piriton? it's licensed for dogs

Slippersandacuppa Thu 30-Jul-15 22:26:48

Sorry, haven't RTFT but our puppy did the same scratch/squeal thing. She's a rescue and came with all sorts of fleas and other parasites but this was different. I took her to the vet and they said it was fox mange! We do have foxes around her and, since being treated, she's been fine. Our other dog has grass allergies so has regular malaseb baths. Both are fed Symply wet food.

Good luck

Jellykat Thu 30-Jul-15 22:48:35

My dog did this, and as others have said it was an allergy to bites, and foods too high in Protein.
I changed the spot-on i used, and only fed him 'Burns' with low protein, which solved the problem for years after.

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