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My dog is eating the wall!! Paint...how harmful can this be for her??

I have a 6 year old beautiful Golden Retriever.  I just discovered today that she has been somehow gnawing at a little corner in the wall of my apartment.  I am most concerned about her ingesting the paint from the wall.  She has been having diarrhea, but i though ti was cause of a bug thats going around my whole neighborhood.  All the dogs were sick for a few weeks.  The vet put her on Metronidazole and it got better.  Then it came back....so another course of Metro.  Now, i am concerned that this may be a more serious thing from the paint or whatever else they put on walls.  It looks like she has only gotten though a few layers of paint.  No big hole in the wall.  She very cunningly did it in a spot where i wouldn't see it.  Behind the door where i hang my coats.  It is beneath a long coat I haven't worn in a long time, so i never saw it.  

Questions....How bad is this for her if she is swallowing paint chips?  Could this be causing the upset stomach?  What other problems can this cause for her health?  And why would she do this?  She is very smart.  Trained very well, and overall a great dog.  She has some anxiety...separation from me, new places, etc...  But, other than that she is a healthy happy dog!  Any insight would be greatly appreciated!!  Thanks!!
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82861 tn?1333453911
I think it depends on the paint and the wall board, and of course, how much she's actually ingested.  I had a dog once who did the same thing.  I was in the shower one evening and kept hearing these really odd sounds out in the hallway.  Turns out it was the sound of her first scratching down the wallboard and then ripping out chunks of it with her teeth!  I have no idea how much she actually consumed, if any.  My vet told me she probably smelled some kind of critter behind the wall and was trying to get to it.  Could have been anything from a mouse to a lizard to a cockroach.  That's how powerful dogs' noses are.  LOL!

It sounds like it's the separation anxiety that is causing her to developing this wall-chewing habit.  How do you treat it?  With exercise!  If you can possibly work in a 20 to 30 minute structured walk before you leave for the day, you will be working with Mother Nature.  Your pup will be good and tired, so it will be natural for her to relax and take a nap while you're gone.  There are also toys you can buy where you can hide treats in them to keep her mentally challenged when she's alone.  

Never forget: a tired dog is a good dog.  The more you get her out in the world, the more socialized she will become and the less anxious she will be.  How long is she left alone on a typical day?  Does she have a doggy door so she can get outside?  Another solution might be adopting another dog to keep her company.  I couldn't imagine having a one-dog household after seeing how much better my mutts do with another dog to play with.  

I know I sound like a broken record on this board, but you can't go wrong taking Cesar Millan's advice - the Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel.  You can either hire a behaviorist, or take the time to watch the show, read one or more of his books, or rent one or more of his DVDs to learn how to communicate with your dog and deal with behavior issues.  It always comes down to the humans not understand what dogs really need to be healthy and mentally balanced.  Yes, there is work involved, but it is so worth every minute of the effort. Anyone can learn to be a true Pack Leader - even children.  Once your dog understands and respects you as the Pack Leader, those anxiety problems will melt away.  You just have to learn what he needs and go from there.  With most people, it's mastering the Walk, which is so often ignored.  OK, I'll shut up now.  :-)
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Avatar universal
Thanks for the advise.  I am going to talk to my vet tomorrow about the pain issue.  She hasn't made a hole in the wall.  It looks like the paws were not involved at all.  I noticed a little irritation on her nose a few times here and there.  My vet dismissed it as her probably chewing at something like a toy and her nose was sort of in the way and therefore got irritated.  Now, i think its from her gnawing at the wall.  Imagine if the wall was made out of chocolate for a moment....it looks like someone took a few licks off a chocolate lollipop....sounds strange, but i don't know how else to describe it??  of course, it is not made out of chocolate, and would never give her chocolate!!  lol....

As far as her behavior goes....the separation anxiety isn't too much of a problem.  We live in NYC, so I make sure that she gets a lot of exercise.  My apartment isn't huge, so we are out a lot.  Also, my work hours are very flexible so when i am working, i can work from home a lot or just make sure i am only gone for about 6 hours.  she has a walker that she loves for when i am not around.  not that she cant hold it for 6 hours, but just so she can get out as much as possible.  when i am home, i play with her a lot and take her out often.  sometimes we just walk and other times we go to the local dog runs in the city.  she actually prefers playing with the other people at the dog runs over the other dogs!  but, thats a golden retriever for ya!!  they love people!  

The separation anxiety isn't a problem when she is left alone in the apartment mostly.  Other than this new thing with the wall, she doesn't bark when i am gone.  she isn't destructive to the apartment in other ways at all.  She is ok if she is alone at home.  She is also ok if we go somewhere and I am with her.  If i leave her with people she doesn't know, she is not a happy camper!  She barks, gets nervous, shakes, etc....  She is ok with my family members, but still would rather have me around.  So its basically that she is ok alone at home, or if not home, must have me by her side.  Now, i know goldens are people dogs and looooove their owners, but i think this might be a bit more than that.  

I think it also could be because of our history together.  I got Bella with my ex boyfriend.  We were very serious and going to get married.  Needless to say, we broke up.  So, Bella lived with my ex and I from puppy to 2 years old.  When we broke up, he wouldn't let me see her for about a year...a little less.  Its a long story as to how and why this happened, but she lost me very suddenly.  Then the ex and i agreed to share custody.  Bella would spend 3 weeks with him, than 3 with me, etc....  She was very happy.  Then out of nowhere the ex decided he didn't want her anymore.  Now, this is a very disturbed man, but she loved him.  So, he dissapeared.  I kept a very close eye on her to see how she was handling it.  Spent a lot of extra time with her too.  She seemed to take it ok.  Now she is just with me.  

Other than the anxiety problem, she is such a delight.  I couldn't ask for a better dog!  I love her so much!  I would love to get another dog to keep her company, but  my place is too small for it now.  I have never watched the Dog Whisperer, but many people have told me to watch it.  I think i will.  I am always up for learning more and new ways to communicate with her!  Bottom line...she is my baby, and I would do anything for her!
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Avatar universal
I loved everything Jaybay suggested except for the Cesar Milan tip.  :/  These days, dog behaviorialists implement Positive/Humane Training (such as Dr.Patricia McConnell, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Ian Dunbar, and many others..).  Cesar Milan uses punitive methods that are extremely controversial  (eg, look up on the internet when he strung up a Siberian Husky by the neck ...:/)  Many think that he's abusive, actually, and his view  of dog training  "its all about being Alpha to your dog" are totally off the mark, and have mislead the public in a big way, and harmed countless dogs as a result.   Certified Animal Behaviorialists, who study the psychology and mind of animals for a living, have disproven the "Alpha" theory again and again- its basically just another way that humans justify using coercion and punitive force over an innocent animal.  Dogs learn best through positive and humane training techniques, and learn to love you and trust you this way/not fear you.   BUT- all that to say, you sound like an awesome dog owner already, and your dog, sounds like a big sweetie.  :)   Probably smelled an animal in the wall, like Jaybay suggested, or maybe he was just bored.  My Husky (another smart dog) fixates on tiny things (her latest is a 6 inch square on the back porch- she's obsessed over it...who knows why! ;))- maybe they obsess over inconsequential things, just like we do... (i.e, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. ) ;)   BTW, awesome book to read by Dr.Patricia McConnell: "For the Love of a Dog".  She explains how dogs 'think'/view the world, and even relationships, differently than humans.  She doesn't believe that dogs do anything malicious or premeditated; they are just living in the moment.  All her books are fascinating. Take care!
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462827 tn?1333168952
This thread is 6 years old! Very doubtful if anyone is still following it!  The Golden would be 12 by now.......Karla
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It may be old but new dogs do same things so good to get input.  I have a puppy that has  4 spots now where she has stripped the paint off the wall.  I am not sure about lead in the underlying layers but the top should not be.  I am reading to see if there is something else to consider.
Hi merigreene.  Oh my, puppies are adorable but little trouble makers.  Lead pain is often very old.  How old is the place you re in?  

Also, my dog found cords to be something she was interesting to chew on and the edge of one of my rugs.  I got this bitter apple flavored spray at the pet store and sprayed it on.  I would consider something like that sprayed on the wall area and any like it (corners for example if that is where she is doing it).  I also crated my pup until she was trust worth if I wasn't home.  Dogs actually like their crates.  We still have ours up and leave the door open always and she goes in there for naps on her own. It's her safe hang out. :>)  Then make sure you provide lots of appropriate chew items for her so she isn't tempted by other things.  
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