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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33276
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Since my ***** *****/York Terrier Cross was spayed, we cannot

Customer Question

Since my ***** *****/York Terrier Cross was spayed, we cannot pet her, groom her, tell her off or even look at her without her spinning around and around after tail. she is now catching her tail and making it bleed. She is now frightened of other dogs when we go on our walks. Any ideas, suggestions with our dilemma.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Ann M. replied 3 years ago.
Hi there and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed, internship-trained veterinarian with 9 years of experience in general medicine and emergency and critical care medicine and I would be happy to assist you.
How old is she, and how long ago was she spayed? Have you tried anything yet?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Roxy is 4 Years old born 22nd July 2010, we have had her from 6 weeks old, she was a loving puppy loved to sit on your knee etc and could be stroked and cuddled.

Roxy was spayed on 1st August 2011 since then we have been unable to stroke/cuddle/groom or touch her by hand in any way without her being very aggressive with her tail by spinning around and around. She now is catching her tail and mutilating it, to the extent that it is bleeding and no fur on the tip of her tail. It is strange that touching/stroking her with your bare foot does not have the spinning reaction, only touching by hand has the spinning reaction.

Expert:  Dr. Ann M. replied 3 years ago.
Ok, and from my understanding, you have not tried any medications to help this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I have advanced training in canine behavior and am pleased to address your dog's behavior. Compulsive tail chasing isn't an uncommon behavior in dogs. In addition to a compulsive disorder, it may be due to a displacement behavior (i.e., in response to conflict or frustration - she's now afraid of other dogs on her walks but would like to socialize with them, for example) - an epileptic disorder, a psychotic or hallucinatory disorder, or acrodermatitis (inflammation of skin on an extremity). In some cases, the problem may have started as play behavior that was reinforced by the owner by either offering a treat or toy or by trying to disrupt the behavior with insufficient levels of punishment. If the owner displays anxiety or uses excessive punishment, additional conflict may arise.

The minimum data base should consist of a complete blood count, biochemical profile, urinalysis, fecal evaluation and, when possible, an electroencephalogram (EEG). The tail should be carefully evaluated for any evidence of foreign body penetration, trauma, or inflammation. Because it has been traumatized to the point of bleeding (self-injurious behavior) it needs to be cared for by her vet until all evidence of trauma is gone before behavioral reconditioning or psychotherapeutic drugs are administered. An Elizabethan collar or neck brace is recommended in order to prevent her reaching her tail and to facilitate healing. Amputation of the tail should be considered in some dogs and may be curative. A drug trial with an opioid or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) might be effective; however, for neuropathic pain, anticonvulsants such as gabapentin, or a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline might be more effective.

I believe that the inception of her behavior is unrelated to her spaying but, instead, coincidental. Once a medical etiology is ruled out by testing as mentioned above and her tail is healed, please consider consulting with a specialist veterinary behaviorist who will have the advantage of examining her behavior and the dynamics of that behavior in person. Such a specialist can be found here:

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.