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Dr L Simmon
Dr L Simmon, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1340
Experience:  Veterinarian MVB MRCVS
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My Shih Tzu always licks his paws causing sores that often

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My Shih Tzu always licks his paws causing sores that often need treatment due to sore, he also seems to of late 'dart around' as if he sees things that aren't there. I'm worried he may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, he is extremely averse to even moderate noise and he gets visibly very frightened, It really is rather severe and long term. When there are fireworks, he seems to have panic attacks. Our vet gave us something - a newly licensed med - for emergencies for the noise, like a nondrowsy benzo or similar. Is there anything else we can give him to calm him down. All the anxiety sprays and storm vets etc are non-effective. Thank you for your help.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
SILEO (dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel)
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Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Please do find me an expert
Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda.
I am sorry to hear your Shih Tzu has got this problem which must be very distressing for both you and him.
I would wonder it the paw licking is anxiety related or something else. Certainly, many Shih tzus are prone to allergic dermatitis (atopy) which is a common cause of paw licking. If this behaviour started between the ages of 1 and 6 I would wonder if it were a primarily dermatological issue. For some, allergy blood tests can provide an answer.
Similarly, with any licking/itching/chewing of the skin it is always wise to double check his external parasite therapy e.g. Advocate is up to date. If the skin is bald/thickened/irritated it may also be worth performing some skin tests e.g. a skin scrape or culture to determine if there is an underlying infection.
With regards ***** ***** around' there are certain health issues that can be linked to this. For example, we can see this in dogs with impacted anal glands, so these should be checked. Similarly, any source of pain from e.g. and ear infection or joint disease (arthritis) could be the culprit.
What age is the dog? If he is senior, we would want to check his blood pressure. we would also consider 'doggy dementia' which would get worse with time and can cause a range of symtpoms including anxiety, vocalisations, pacing, circling etc.
With regards ***** ***** phobia, this is a very common issue. While it can be hard to treat it is not impossible. It takes time and we need patience and consistency. For most, it is a matter of building confidence and desensitizing them. The Dogs Trust have a wonderful advice sheet:
If not already on them, given his symptoms I would recommend daily natural calming supplements such as Nutracalm/Yucalm that go in the food and can have good results if used long term.
I would also use an Adaptil collar or plug-in to help him around the home.
Sileo is probably the strongest medicine licensed that we can give to dogs at home who are not being supervised by a vet or nurse so I would not recommend anything stronger as it would simply not be safe.
Rather than aiming to sedate, it's better to try and address the problem at the source (though certainly Sileo can help short term).
As well as the calming medicine described above and the desensitization programme discussed by Dogs Trust, I would recommend we rule out any underlying health issues as mentioned.
It is also always a good idea to ensure his mind his kept busy and active throughout the day with food puzzles, interactive toys, scenting games etc. This does wonders to reduce anxiety as the mind is othereise occupied.
On top of that, training commands should be used frequently and he should be rewarded when they are followed. This builds confidence.
Ensure his exercise needs are being met and as well as walks, we want to encourage sniffing, licking, chewing. This can be achieved with stuffed Kongs, chews, licki-matts etc. Hiding treats in the home and garden and playing 'find it' is great fun for them.
As a final note, a good canine behaviourist is worth their weight in gold and I would strongly recommend one who can come to the house and give tailored advice.
I do hope that this answer has been helpful and please do not forget to rate the service by selecting the stars at the top of the screen so I may be compensated for my time. Even after rating we can continue the conversation. All the best, ***** *****
Dr L Simmon, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1340
Experience: Veterinarian MVB MRCVS
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