Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Skycat Et Al: Foot Problems

Recommended Posts

I'm hoping somebody can give me some advice.


I've had an ongoing problem with the feet on my kelpie bitch. It started about eighteen months ago and basically takes the form of her licking her feet so enthusiastically between two individual toes on three particular feet that she's removed the hair between them and they're red raw.


The first time it happened was during late winter 2016. I'd recently bought a bottle of Gentian Violet spray as I'd read such good things about it on here so decided to try that which started to clear it up. Both kelpies were getting more on-road walking than usual at the time as Noggin was recovering from an RTA and I noticed that, because Scout always stepped off the pavement onto the road to wee, the camber of the road caused the wee to trickle in the direction of those three feet. Putting two and two together I presumed this was the cause, though I neglected to consider she was focusing on the space between two particular toes on each of the three feet. The toes got better but never completely healed.


Fast forward to last winter and they became worse again. This time I took her to the vets where I received the usual "probably an allergy: try our highly expensive dog food" answer. I said this was unlikely as she'd had the same BARF diet for ten years with no previous problems. They then did their usual 'treat the symptom' and gave me antibiotics and painkillers and hibiscrub. I also bought a "comfycone" to reduce her ability to lick her feet. Again the feet improved temporarily but not completely.


I took her back again last month and was given the same advice (and treatment) and also told that because she's quite a "sensitive" bitch it was probably hormone related and then when it reoccurred (which he assured me it would) the alternative was a tablet every day for the rest of her life to basically calm her down and make her less edgy. I hasten to add that if I'm making her sound neurotic this is not the case, she's simply more "bitchy" than the very laid back attitude of Noggin.


However, during my annual Devon holiday I visited Noggin's breeder and discussed the problem with her. I also added that I'd since remembered that the time it first happened was roughly the same time that Old Rusty was put to sleep and wondered if it was her reaction to this event. She was firmly of the opinion that the problem was physical not mental and that, as dogs are unable to say, "My feet hurt", licking an area is their usual way of letting us know they're in pain...like most kelpies she's particularly stoic. She suggested something along the lines of Joint Aid.


I've since been trimming back the nails on those toes as some research on the internet indicated that overlong nails can cause this too (something I've never need to contemplate before as kelpie nails rarely get to that stage).


She seems temporarily better, to the extent where I'm leaving off the comfy collar for longer periods until I notice her having a sly lick/chew. Does anybody have any other advice to throw into the mix and/or is there anything I could use on her feet to dissuade the licking. I'm thinking along the lines of the stuff you paint on kids thumbs to stop them sucking them? Somebody suggested manuka honey but my vet sensibly pointed out she'd find that appealing!


Thanks in advance.

Edited by Neal

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I truly sympathise with your ongoing problem. There's nothing more guaranteed to make us feel helpless than an issue that no one can diagnose. Two things spring to mind: firstly, the fact that the bitch has had the same diet for 10 years doesn't mean that the diet is appropriate. I've had lurchers apparently fine on a raw diet, then, when they get older, they reject one of the components. In two lurcher bitches I had the problem was, believe it or not, raw chicken carcases. Took them off chicken carcases and their skin problems went away. These were two unrelated bitches as well, and it happened at different times, years apart.

Thing is, and it's the same for humans, you can be mildly intolerant of a certain food, but without symptoms for many years. Over time, the gut, and whole body, become more and more unable to deal with the problem food, and gradually begin to show symptoms, which might appear totally unrelated to food, but have a certain food as their origin.

It's a really tricky thing to deal with.

Of course it might not be food. As the bitch is getting older it could be that she is suffering increasingly from joint problems. Unseen arthritic inflammation in her toe joints. As you said, dogs lick at what hurts them in an attempt to soothe the pain: just as we rub a sore spot on our bodies.


Thoughts: have you tried her on pain killers? Carprieve? May be worth trying her for a couple of weeks just to see if they make a difference. If they do, then, as it's an old dog with a more limited life expectancy, keep her on them. Not something I'd do in a young dog as long term use of even vet-prescribed pain killers can damage kidneys and liver.

You could try getting her feet x-rayed, from multiple angles, to see if there is any sign of arthritis, if you haven't done so already.

Also: just because your other dogs don't have a problem, that doesn't mean that there isn't something in the environment that is causing irritation.


In conclusion, having ruled out arthritic pain, I'd change the diet, putting her on a very basic cooked chicken and rice diet for 3 months and then gradually reintroducing additional types of raw meat one at a time.

Also: is she getting all the nutrients she needs? A raw diet is only as good as the variety it contains, and if the diet has been lacking, and for some reason the bitch's body is unable to process certain ingredients, she may even be lacking some necessary mineral or trace element. Modern farmed meat is so much less nutritious due to farming methods, depleted land, over use of highly processed animal feeds and antibiotics ... the list is endless, and may be responsible for many of our modern ailments. Have you tried giving her kelp powder and cod liver oil?


One more thought: you mentioned hormones, so I take it she's not spayed. Have you noticed the problems flare up after she's had a season? Hormone related issues can affect the skin if the dog has an auto-immune issue, and as hormones are at their most active, changing after a season, this is when you'd be likely to see a related problem. I'm not convinced on this one, though, but it's worth looking into if all else fails.

No conclusions I'm afraid, and no magic wand, but plenty to investigate.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the extremely detailed reply Skycat.


Sorry, I must've misled you with my hormones comment as she was spayed about eight years ago...ironically I remember reading a thread by you on here on the morning of her op and nearly cancelled it at the last moment!


Combining what you've written with the advice from Noggin's breeder I think the problem is most likely to be related to some kind of pain in her feet. She had some metacam earlier this year but stopped it fairly quickly as it always makes my kelpies very loose. Can I get the painkiller you mentioned over the counter in somewhere like Jolleys or Pets at Home or will I need to get it online? What do you think of the Joint Aid the breeder mentioned? I'll try this approach first and then maybe try the vet again for x rays if she's still in pain. I must admit that, considering she's a kelpie, she's never had feet anywhere near as robust as my other kelpies.


Thanks again, Neal. :thumbs:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did the pain killer help? Is so then that may well be the answer when things get bad as things like arthritis are usually cyclical, coming and going over time. There are lots of supplements on the market but alas they aren’t up too much, treating the owner rather than the dog.

If it is an allergy the feet bring the only area of symptom might well suggest an environmental rather than dietary cause although not guaranteed. I’d have a really good check in ears and muzzle looking for any signs of redness as these will often show problems with environmental irritants. If it happens same time each year I wold look to things like what ground are you on, are feet often wet/muddy as causative things to consider.

Whatever the cause with some dogs even a mild irritation will bring about and OCD type behaviour of licking that then becomes self-continuing even after the initial irritation has gone. With this type of case then reducing stress and breaking the cycle are the only non-pharmaceutical options and you seem to have that sorted with the muzzle etc .

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Sandymere.


I did consider it might be environmental at one stage as the first times it flared up were in late winter so I was considering it could be from road salt or similar but her most recent bout started in June/July...or was it just a continuation of the January/February flare up?


Knowing her as well as I have for the last ten years my money's on it being painful feet. I think I'll get a painkiller of some type, keep spraying the feet with gentian to help it heal in the meantime and put the comfycone on if I notice her starting to lick and see how it is in a month.


Edited to add: I remember getting some kind of high-powered fish oil with additives for Rusty during his last year as he was walking like Old Man Steptoe so I might try that again.

Edited by Neal

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.