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How can I help treat my dog's air-biting tic?

Fluffy Shih Tzu looking up at the camera.

Who's biting air? (Photo: Flickr/Robert Nunnally)

How can I help treat my dog's air-biting tic?

December 04, 2012

Q: My recently adopted Shih Tzu has an unusual tic. He looks up and bites into the air as if catching a flying bug several times a day.  How can I help him?

A: This is a known behavior. It is either neurologic or behavioral. To decide between the two it is suggested to start the dog on anti-convulsive drugs, and if that doesn't work then go to a behaviorist and try to retrain, also using drugs of the MAO inhibitor class.

So that means veterinary help, because you cannot get the medications without a prescription.

If you can video these episodes it would also help your veterinarian. It could also help to have a camera set up to know if he does this when you're not at home. Do not pay any attention to him when he does this, so you will not inadvertently reward him, if this tic is behavioral.

-- Answer from Denise Colgrove, dog veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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