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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 32866
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My dog is a Bichon Frise and after breaking down she "eats

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My dog is a Bichon Frise and after breaking down she "eats "one of her toes taking the skin completely off . Is there anything we can do ?
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I believe that many vets - including myself - were puzzled by "...and after breaking down..." Would you please clarify for me what that phrase means?

In general, a dog will excoriate herself to the point of ulcerating the skin when an underlying disorder either is causing that area to itch or is painful. Treating that underlying etiology, then, is how we would stop Rosie from "eating" one of her toes.

I'll await your reply and try to be more specific once I hear from.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

By breaking down I mean "in season or in heat" that's what we call it in Scotland.


Look forward to more information from you.;

Thank you! The things I learn on this site...

I don't of any connection between a heat cycle and a dog traumatizing her skin to that extent. Is it always the same toe? How many cycles of heats and her damaging herself have you witnessed?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.Yes it is always the same toe and it has happened three times in succession now .This may seem silly but she also seems to go into a state of depression .

The fact that she has a behavior change and the same toe is involved suggests an obsessive-compulsive disorder called acral lick dermatitis (extremity-excessive licking-inflammation of the skin). Causes of such licking are multifactorial and although environmental stress (e.g., boredom, confinement, loneliness, separation anxiety) may be a contributor, other factors are usually more important (hypersensitivity to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, or dust mites; or food), fleas, trauma (cut, bruise), foreign body reaction, infection (bacterial, fungal), demodicosis (mange mite), hypothyroidism, neuropathy, osteopathy, and arthritis.

Rosie's vet will need to determine the underlying cause. It's important to treat for secondary bacterial infection with long-term antibiotics (minimum 6-8 weeks and as long as 4-6 months in some dogs). I've cleared these lesions with antibiotic therapy alone. Topical application of analgesic, steroidal, or bad tasting medication every 8-12 hours may help stop the licking but response is unpredictable and often disappointing. Behavior-modifying drugs may be beneficial in some dogs. Alternative medical treatments such as cold laser therapy or acupuncture have been helpful in some patients. Finally, mechanical barriers such as wire muzzles and bandaging might be of value but many dogs will chew through hard casts to reach these lesions.

This is a frustrating condition for owners and vets alike. The first order of business is to see if Rosie's vet can find an underlying cause and treat that specifically. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Dr. Michael Salkin and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a few weeks for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.