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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21245
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My Maltese terrier has his right leg lifted up and is chewing

Resolved Question:

My Maltese terrier has his right leg lifted up and is chewing away at his foot. I have showered him, bathed the foot in salty water but he continues to chew at it.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
How long has Oleg been chewing?
Can you see any redness, sores, inflammation, or pus between the toes and pads?
Any odor?
Any recent injuries, trauma, or wounds on this foot?
Could he have walked on fresh salt/grit when on a walk?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
24 hours. No to all but the salt/grit................the road outside was gritted the other night when it was freezing and yes, he has walked on it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He is perfectly happy otherwise and still wants to go out for walks but as we speak, he is constantly licking this foot - he's stopped licking the left one.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you,
Now salt water bathing is a good start since it will help flush away irritants and bacterial lurking. That said, his continued behaviour tells us that it is irritating and causing him discomfort despite your treatment thus far. And if there has been gritting in your area, then this is quite likely our trigger since this will notoriously cause inflammation/irritation of the paws in dogs.
Now since dogs are their own worst enemies in these cases, we’d be best to block access to this foot. We can do this by placing an e-collar (which you can get OTC at most vets and pet stores) to block him from any more chewing. Alternatively, if he is amenable, you can try covering the foot with a sock (since this will protect but also is breathable to let this dry out).
Next, we'd want to consider applying OTC hydrocortisone cream to the skin he is chewing. This will reduce inflammation and the discomfort driving him to chew. This can be applied 2-3 times daily after you salt water bathe and pat the skin dry. Of course, if severely irritated, then we do sometimes need to use injectable steroids from their vets to halt the irritation reaction.
Finally, just since allergies can be another trigger for this type of behavior, I'd note that you can consider treating with an over the counter antihistamine. Most commonly we use Piriton/Chlorphenamine ( 4-8mg every 12 hours) can just be enough to reduce that allergic irritation. We do like to keep the dose low to start since it can cause drowsiness (just like people). And of course, these shouldn't be used if your wee one has any known health issues or is on any other medication without speaking to your vet first.
Overall, this sounds most suspicious of an irritation/inflammation situation that he is now self-traumatizing. I am glad to hear there are no signs of infection but we need to block his access and break this cycle to keep it that way. Therefore, I would suggest the above at this point for Oleg. Of course, if his signs persist, then we'd want to follow up with his vet. And if his paws are sensitive to the grit (and if the weather gets chilly again), then we may need to think about booties (which you can get online or at most pet stores) for his walks during the winter weather.
All the best,
Dr. B.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much. In the first instance I will go down the "sock" route, I have some human finger bandages which will fit his little foot and if no better by Monday I will take him to his vet'.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome,
That sounds like a good plan of action, especially if you can fit the sock safely to his foot to keep him from taking it off (as some will).
Best wishes to you both,
Dr. B.
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