Why does my dog insist on chewing (licking, biting or scratching are variations of the same problems) after bedtime? During the day, activities distract pets so while these behaviors are present, they don’t appear to be as severe. Once the pet relaxes for the evening with all the distractions absent, the skin reaction intensifies to the point it may appear the chewing is obsessive. Now it has advanced to distracting your sleep.
There are multiple reasons for this chewing behavior. Clues are found by where on the body they chew.
• Legs and feet: most common area of involvement. Most of these patients suffer from environmental allergies or atopy. Non-prescription products and shampoos offer little to no relief unless they are mild cases. Antihistamines also are ineffective. They offer relief by drugging your pet and not treating the problem. Newer products such as Apoquel and Cytopoint are effective products if a good dermatology protocol is established. Marley is one of our poster children for atopy.
• Lower back, tail, or back of rear legs: several possibilities. The most common is fleas or flea bite allergy. You may not see any fleas because the dog is destroying the flea during his chewing. Over the counter products such as shampoos, soaps, and topicals such as Frontline and generic Frontline do not work. Other possible causes are anal gland disease, food allergies, lumbo-sacral disease, or arthritis at tail base.
• Back of head and neck: generally related to an ear problem. The vast majority of ear problems are yeast secondary to atopy or environmental allergies. Other causes are food allergies.
• Face and muzzle- atopy the majority of the time (environmental allergies). Other possible causes are dental pain.
• Generalized or entire body- commonly associated with mites, bacterial skin infections, yeast infections, or a combination of three of the above problems.
Proper identification of the problem is important to resolving the pet’s chewing. This requires diagnostics by your veterinarian, sometimes multiple tests at different appointments. One shot will not fix it! Therefore, do not become frustrated and stop medications or ask Dr. Google. Your pet deserves better because they love you unconditionally. Treat the skin and get some rest!