Why Are my Dog's Feet Itchy?
photo 2010 Tony Alter | more info (via: Wylio)
I have a wirehair dachshund who is diabetic and has skin allergies. He is constantly licking/biting at his paws (all four). I have checked each paw, as has his vet, and find nothing out of the ordinary. I know this time of year is hard on his allergies and I am at my wit's end as to what to do about it. The vet says to give him Benadryl, but I hate drugging him every day.
Because of the diabetes he cannot use steroids. I have recently added salmon oil to his diet to see if it helps, but it is too soon to tell. Any suggestions on what I can do?
Pets can suffer allergies that, just like human allergies, are very frustrating. Unlike humans, pets generally don't develop hay fever symptoms. Instead, they usually become itchy. Frequent sites of itching include the base of the tail, the groin, the armpits, the ears, and the tops of the feet.
There are three big potential causes of allergies in dogs. You should think about all of them.
1) Fleas. Is your dog on a good flea preventative? Remember that most dogs with symptomatic flea allergies don't have visible flea infestations.
2) Food. If your dog does not require a special diet for his diabetes, then consider a special hypoallergenic diet.
3) Everything else. This includes pollen, mold spores, dust mites, storage mites, cats, humans, mosquitoes, detergents and millions of other possible sources.
Conventional wisdom holds that dogs with itchy feet often suffer from grass or pollen allergies that act locally. That is to say, pollen on the feet makes the feet itch. Omega-3s (salmon oil) may help to reduce these over time (although the evidence is a little spotty on that). However, the simplest thing to do for itchy feet is to cleanse them after every jaunt outside. Use a moist washcloth with plain water, then thoroughly dry all four feet.
If two months of flea control, foot cleansing, and (if possible) a hypoallergenic diet don't control the problem, consider blood allergy testing. A blood sample can be sent to the lab, and an analysis performed to give you a better idea of what's causing the problem. Your dog could then undergo hyposensitization (allergy shots). Or, better yet, you may find that you're able to eliminate the source of the problem from his environment.