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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have had a problem with my dog two years. he shuffles

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I have had a problem with my dog for over two years. he shuffles along on his bottom, scratches violently at his mouth, back legs tremble and constant licking of one front paw and one back paw. these symptoms seem to happen in a 2-3 week cycle - then he seems to be his normal self for a few days. I have noticed stress or excitement will trigger the symptoms.
I have now seen 5 top local vets and the Neurology Consultant at the Cambridge Vet.College. So far, I have tried changing his diet to anti allergy science food for two months. I have tried changing our walking route. He has been given steroids, prednisolone (not sure of spelling). He has had x-ray done of head/teeth and latest was an expensive MRI of head/neck (where he scratches violently) - no obvious problem was found.
Majority of the Vets appear to suggest that my dog has an allergy problem. Having tried food, bedding and walking changes, the next step would probably be expensive blood tests to ascertain what may be the allergy. However, researching the internet, I found quite a few dogs that were allergic to metal. Thinking I may have found the answer, I changed his metal chain collar for a nylon/plastic one and his food/water bowls to plastic or ceramic. I am now looking for wet dog food in non metal containers. (he does have Bakers meaty munchies for his evening meal). My question is - once I have 'de-metalised' his life - how long will it take for the symptoms to disappear? If no improvement after this time? then I must try blood tests...unless you can find another answer for this mystery problem?!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
I am sorry no one else chose to assist you with this issue. To directly answer your question, when a food switch or a potential allergen ingestion situation is present, it can take 6 weeks or longer to see improvement after the allergen (you suspect metal) is removed from his environment.
However, I should point out that if your dog was allergic to the metal collar, I would expect to see a contact dermatitis type reaction such as a rash or hair loss in that general area.
I should also mention that thyroid issues can cause a dog to lick and chew at paws and become "itchy" so I do hope that a thyroid panel was done.
Check for any changes in cleaning supplies such as laundry detergents, carpet shampoos since it does seem like areas that contact the floor or ground might be affected. If you changed areas before this started such as moved, then there may be some thing present in the new environment that was not present in the old.
Allergies are tricky and a dog can even develop an allergy to something they were not allergic to previously. Many are even allergic to things like pollen and different types of grasses much like humans are. Allergy testing can definitely give you a good idea of the underlying cause for the issues your dog is having and allow you to remove them from his surroundings.
In cases where the allergen can not be eliminated such as pollen and grass, a desensitizing shot can be developed to lessen or even eliminate the symptoms. I'll be happy to discuss this further wit you as well.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

thank you for your reply. You have given me a new avenue to try with thyroid issue - I don't think my vet tried this. would thyroid issues "come and go"? the symptoms show for about 3 weeks and then he is ok-ish for about a week before licking, bum shuffling, leg trembles etc start again. You mention that a metal collar would normally create rash or loss of fur if he is allergic. the collar is a very loose choke-chain and would only come into contact when he laid on it.

he has these symptoms regularly throughout the year - this makes me think that is not pollen/grass related with winter season being dormant.

When he has what my vet calls an "episode", he has violent scratching at the left side of his mouth; just prior to the episode, excitement (or stress) seems to trigger something that seems to cause pain at this place in his mouth. This is the only place he scratches. I usually grab hold of him and stop the scratching when I can - it takes a few moments for him to respond to my care. I just wish I could have my healthy happy furry pal back as he was - loved walks - now it is an effort for him to keep up with my slow pace...!

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Depending on the underlying cause of the thyroid problem, the issue might seem to come and go as the hormone levels fluctuate. It is a difficult subject so let me give you a site that discusses thyroid issues and treatment.
Since it does seem to have a cycle, look for things that might be going on right before a "cycle" starts. It could be a simple as a monthly medication, washing of the pet bed or blankets or even shampooing carpets or having an exterminator that comes in monthly. So try and think of all those little things as well. Often once the cause is identified, the owner is wondering just how they missed it. It might even be something someone else is giving him if there are others around such as children or well intentioned neighbors tossing a treat.
If the vet thinks there is even a remote possibility that he is experiencing any seizure activity, I'd get a ct scan to rule out growths. The unexpectedness of the attacks and the mouth pain seem unusual but still could be related to a thyroid issue.

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