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Friday, 25 November 2011

What is wrong with my Maltipoo?


I have an almost three-year-old Maltipoo weighing 15 lbs.

In August he started licking the air excessively. It then turned into constant licking, swallowing and gurgling in the belly, almost like he was going to vomit and more severely during the night.

He has been to the vet twice and has been on: Pepsid AC, Prilosec, tums, plain yogurt in food, benedryl and another medication from vet for motion sickness.

Nothing has seemed to work. He is healthy in every other way, he eats, poops, and plays. He is a bit anxious as he barks at every dog, person he sees through the window.

Could he have acid reflux? I am looking for another suggestion for this problem as I am fearful he is damaging something internally.

Any help would be appreciated.

Anon, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

I can understand your worries as you have an otherwise normal dog who is exhibiting strange behaviour which has not improved with treatment.

It sounds as if your vet is thinking along the lines of gut pain and discomfort, given the things you have tried, and the signs you describe do sound like acid reflux and colicky pain. I wonder what you are feeding him and how often? Dogs with acid reflux often fare better on frequent small meals so that there is always something for the gut to be digesting, especially offering a little food as you go to bed to keep it occupied overnight. There may also be an element of food hypersensitivity, triggering bowel pain and spasm – that could be investigated with a food trial under veterinary supervision.

Further investigation is possible, such as blood tests to check his general health and rule –out other causes of nausea. An endoscope could be passed into stomach under general anaesthesia to examine the lining of the stomach for ulceration, for example.

I would certainly take your dog back to your vet, not least because he will think that your dog’s problem is all sorted because he has not seen you again. It would also be interesting to know whether his weight was stable or whether he was losing weight.

Have you thought of trying a Dog Appeasing Pheromone collar for your dog’s anxiety?


  1. It could be stress. Try giving your dog something like a Kong toy, stuffed with treats, and see if that helps to break the cycle.

    Another thing I'd try is to switch to a bland diet for a few days - say rice with chicken or fish. (Don't confuse the issue by stuffing the Kong with regular food during this test).

    Look for dedicated message boards where you'll find large numbers of people with an "air licking dog". There's even a Facebook Maltipoo group where the topic gets a good airing (no pun intended).

    If you can satisfy yourself that there are no medical problems, obvious or otherwise (blood tests might be a good idea), then it's more than likely a behavioural issue, and a change in your dog's exercise regime might help.

    Wishing you all the best.

  2. Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I will continue to search focusing on digestive area. I did change from fish with potatoes to fish with rice recently in a dry dog food. I do see a slight improvement, but he is still licking his paws and bed during the night. The exercise outside is an issue due to ticks and a yard that is not fenced. I will try longer walks and see if this may help. Thanks again.

  3. Persistent swallowing and retching suggest a disorder with the upper digestive system which is probably diet-related. A high-quality hypo-allergenic type food should be helpful. Burns Pet Nutrition has a number of foods which should be helpful. You are more likely to succeed with the professional help we can offer via our Nutrition Team rather than trying different things on your own.
    Best wishes
    John Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition

  4. I used to have a Golden Retriever who through most of his life had episodes similar to this. In fact it would become so bad at times that I thought that he may be going down the bloat route, because he would also start pacing and his stomach would swell and make the most awful noises. On top of the saliva and trying to vomit, he would also gulp in air, and could not stop. It would always start to happen about 3 hours after eating a meal. I am sure that it was diet related, so would suggest that you look at other foods that are not dry completes, as in hindsight I feel sure that these were to blame. I think that it was when the digestive process of these hard foods got well under way, that the problem started.

    A friend introduced me to Homoepathy, and this was what always worked for him. The remedy that I used was Mercurious Solubilis (Merc. Sol). If you have never used homoepathy before, then finding a homeopathic vet, may be very useful and bring tremendous relief to your dog.

  5. I am wondering what type of food you give your dog....I am using Evo fish and herring or something like that (kibble). I am also giving him a digestive enzyme and it has helped a bit ( prescribed by vet). How much of the wet food if that is what your using do you give your dog?