Is This A Form Of Canine Self-Mutilation?
Dog World|March 3,2017

I AM NOT often shocked into silence, but when a veterinary nurse working in emergency care in the US told me this story, I was not only shocked into silence, but actually broke out into spontaneous tears!

Julia Robertson

For everyone that knows me, when I am working with my dog clients, I am an emotional person, due to the amazing responses and reactions I receive from the dogs I treat, but this reaction was sadly so very different!

The story was told to me by an obviously traumatised veterinary nurse. She recounted a case of a dog who was brought into the emergency care centre, with half his front foot chewed off; he had chewed off half his own foot!

Nothing within his clinical care had made any impact on a condition that would ultimately cause him to self-mutilate to such a hideous extent. To me this pattern of behaviour is common with so many dogs that I have seen (not to that extreme, I hasten to add); indicative of referred neural pain, originating in the neck/shoulders.

Twice in recent history, I have suffered similar referred neural pain, originating from my neck, then tracking into my arm. During this awful and unforgettable time, I too, would have gone mad with the pain and probably tried to deflect the excruciating agony in much the same way (had I not been able to get hold of the correct treatment, which for me was deep tissue massage). Selfmutilation in the form of incessant licking and chewing is a complex reaction to extreme pain, but by creating a controlled additional pain (by licking and chewing), the body will produce a hormonal response, which helps to moderate pain.

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