Itchy dog feet…

I think Kathy’s comment under Trick or Treat deserves attention, so I’m reposting it here. Here’s her question: 

Please, could you offer some advice on itchy dog feet?  When the 3 amigos paws are vet checked, they are treated for yeast or allergy.  It isn’t bacterial.  But the problem keeps returning…is there something I can add to their diet or a safe, home remedy topical treatment?
Thanks a million!

16 Comments on “Itchy dog feet…”

  1. lhasalhady says:

    All three have itchy feet? Is it seasonal or all the time? What are they eating? Do you add any vitamins? What does the vet prescribe? Does it work?

  2. Kathy says:

    Our vet has me moving all 3 dogs to a special diet for allergies and have been using Pyoben, medicated shampoo for their feet…I can’t tell if it’s seasonal yet as this is the most itching I have seen from early fall until now. Tess does have allergies. Sophie was checked yesterday–no yeast! But still itchy…I have not given them any vitamins except the supplement Omega 3…nothing has changed in our household environ…suggestions for shampoo/conditioner/yogurt/supplements? Thanks!

  3. Are you referring to the pads on the bottom or the top of his of his paws. Road pays a lot of attention to this. When I tell him to stop, he looks at me and continues. I can hear his teeth grinding when he does this. He has no redness or anything on his feet, he does not have fleas etc.
    Any suggestions??

  4. Julie says:

    Because all 3 dogs have itchy feet I would say it is enviormental-not allergies. Do you notice them licking, biting scratching other body areas, especially the inside hind legs and around the head? Any ear infections?

  5. lhasalhady says:

    My thoughts on itching…

    I live with an itchy dog, my husband’s Labrador retriever Eli. According to one source, this is not uncommon in middle-aged retrievers, particularly Labs and Goldens. I groom a number of itchy dogs. While Eli is itchy year-round, he is itchier during pollen season, again in August and after the hard freeze arrives, itchiness greatly subsides. Some of my grooming clients exhibit the same scenario. Others, not. Earlier this year, I spent a lot of time educating myself about itchy dogs and possible solutions. There are a lot of resources on the Veterinary page within this website. Start by scrolling to the bottom of the page and reading the last two paragraphs. Then reference pertinent articles and websites on the left. Soon, you’ll discover what I’ve concluded. It’s a crap shoot!

    From my experience, adding raw meat to the diet helps. Eli’s symptoms subside noticeably, unless it’s pine pollen season or August, when meat makes up the majority of his diet. The Apsos’ apparently healthy skin does better, as well, when meat is added to kibble. Eli gets one Benadryl tablet mixed in with his meal.

    Kathy, I advise adding raw meat to your dogs’ diet. There are now a number of products on the market. I feed Oma’s Pride. Alma, how’s Roadie doing on Blue?

    Eli is bathed every other week in either olive oil soap (Katy, I’ll be trying your I Love My Dog! Sunflower Shampoo Bar on him next week) or very, very diluted Head and Shoulders. I tried a number of products; these two work the best for him.

    On the Veterinary page, I mention my dislike for cortisone (prednisone, prednisolone, steroids; all the same drug category). I am referring to oral drugs. Topical cortisone is of benefit. Here’s some products worth a try, found at:

    A fast, effective aid in the relief of trouble spots on the skin of dogs, cats and horses. Dermagard Spray is to be applied and left on for continued residual effectiveness, Cools, dries and protects irritated skin. Soothes, helps promote healing and provides temporary itch relief.

    Amazing medication kills fungus spores picked up in weeds that cause summer itch, mange, eczema and hot spots. The most frenzied itching is relieved instantly. Open sores heal over. Scales disappear and hair grows back.

    Produces immediate, dramatic results in the reduction of inflammation of the skin and the relief of itching. Dermagard is a rich topical lotion to be applied and left on for continued residual effectiveness, soothes irritations and helps heal abrasions.

    A super gentle, protein rich conditioning shampoo that reduces inflammation and irritation. This rich medicated shampoo stops itching and soothes the skin while moisturizing and revitalizing the coat. Formulated to work with Dermagard Medicated Spray and Lotion for maximum effectiveness.

    I have used both the cortisone spray and sulfadene, brought in by clients, for use on their dogs. Both seemed to provide temporary relief.

  6. Kathy says:

    Debby and Julie, Wow–thanks for all the insight and great approaches to making our dogs much more comfortable. I was feeling that their nutritional needs coupled with seasonal changes were the primary factors in their persistant itch. I was at a point of seeking a nutritionist for input and you have given me a wealth of valuable info–thanks!

  7. Debb this might be a duplicate. roadie is doing fine with Blue. He does not like the vitamine that are in the dry food. He politely spits them out on the floor. I have to mix them with the can food which I have from Blue for him not to detect them. His stool is fine from the change.
    I am putting drops in his one ear for the earmites. He eats twice a day in the morning and something when I eat my dinner. I let him out about ll:00 p.m. before I get in the bed. He lets me know when he has to go out by barking, one time at 2:00 in the morning (smile) He does not pick at his feet all the time, but when he does he grinds his teeth, very annoying to me (smile)
    I haven’t taken him to vet a s yet for a checkup but as of now he doing okay. I groom him every other day, groomer once a month. His hair is getting long, and I see some black coming in on his back. The picture of Zeke are pretty, Are they going to mate Sadie with him?


  8. lhasalhady says:

    Sadie had an ovariohysterectomy (spay) before she left Julie’s. So, no, she won’t be mated with Zeke. This scenario, for our dogs, is standard procedure. Just like Roadie, Sadie was shown to her Championship, bred to produce the next generation, neutered and placed in a forever home. This is ideal, allowing us to continue our work as breeder/exhibitors, making a (hopefully) positive contribution to the Apso gene pool and then placing the dog so that he/she can live most of his/her life as someone’s pet.

  9. Katy Widger says:

    Good comments from everyone on the itchy dog feet, so I’ll check in here, too. Sadie came to live with us about ten days ago, and I noticed her itching right away. Zeke doesn’t seem to itch much at all. After discussing it with Julie, her opinion was that it was the dryness, and of course, Sadie moved from humid MN to extremely dry, drought-sticken NM, so that is the logical cause. I bathed her yesterday and used some anti-itch collodial oatmeal conditioner on her, and it seemed to help. Not as much itching. I also changed her diet over the past ten days to a completely raw one. I am feeding Primal, rotating between chicken, beef and lamb. I also give raw, skinned chicken necks in the AM and green tripe and raw goat cheese (a teaspoon or so) along with either sardine fish oil or cod liver oil with their Primal dinner.They get a fresh, cooked egg to share every AM also. They also get a small bowl full of raw goat milk kefir (like liquid yogurt) as a mid-day “snack”. They lick their bowls clean, and cute little Sadie now comes over to the ‘frig to ask for her meals! I had “itchy” dogs in the past, but when I moved them to a raw diet, the itching went away. I think, for my dogs, it was grain allergy from their dry kibble, even though it was good quality. A lot of dogs can’t digest grains. But environmental situations should be looked at, especially household cleaning chemicals on floors, carpets and outdoor toxins on lawns, especially. These guys are so close to the ground, that everything they come into contact with either clings to their feet and hair, or goes up their nose.
    A side note about Zeke and Sadie. Yes, Sadie was spayed before arriving here. Zeke is not yet neutered, and I am not certain that I am going to neuter him. But I have no intention of ever breeding him, not only because of the agreement I have with Debby, but because the world doesn’t need anymore excess dogs and I wish for only those people like Debby and Julie to be the ones to accomplish this task. I am holding off neutering Zeke because I’m not yet convinced it is in his best health interest to do so, at least not as a puppy. I have control over him to the point that there will never be any “accidents”. I have plenty of time to further investigate the “evidence” and make a decision that I feel will be the best for him in particular, and not just for dogs in general. I fully support Debby and Julie in the way they are running their show and breeding program. I thank God for them and what they are doing, truth be known!

  10. Hello Kathy, I read your last comment. I have started giving Roadie and little ground raw meat with his meals. I also put a little olive oil in his food each morning. He is not scratching as much, but occasionally with start bitting at his feet. He has not fleas so it is not because of that. What is Primal and where do you get it.
    I feed him Blue dry mixed with the can Blue. He like it but does not like the life source vitamins that are in the dry food. He politel drops them to the floor… I have some goat cheese that I was going to make some biscuits from the Oprah show. I think I will give me a taste of that and maybe cook him an egg sometimes.


  11. lhasalhady says:

    As administrator I’m able to check the blog’s stats, which include how many hits the blog gets each day and some of the topics that bring surfers to the blog. Over the months, almost daily there’s at least one hit on Itchy Dog Feet; often many more. I may have forgotten this topic, if it wasn’t for periodically checking blog stats.

    When I came across the following in ‘ask dr. kevin’, in the September/October 2008 issue of AKCfamilydog, I knew it was appropriate to share it here. Dr.Kevin Fitzgerald is a local veterinarian at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver and is featured on Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets, along with a weekly segment on a local TV station. He’s also well-known in our area for his stand-up comedy and is considered one the ‘most-eligible bachelors’.

    The question:

    Two of our readers have similar questions. The first writes, “I have a Labrador who won’t stop chewing on his feet. At first I thought it was from rock salt, but winter’s over and he still chews his feet raw.” The second says, “I have a wonderful, healthy Maltese who’s 9 1/2 years old. The problem is his contant licking. His vet suggested putting BenGay on his paws, but he’s used to the smell now and he keeps licking all the time.”

    dr. kevin’s response:

    Foot chewing may be annoying to both you and your dog but, more importantly, it can also be very injurious and may even border on self-mutilation. This behavior can result from any of a variety of underlying causes, such as mites, autoimmune disease, contact dermatitis, interdigital foreign bodies, warts, tumors, or simply trauman. But one of the most common causes of a dog’s licking or chewing his paws or feet is allergy or food hypersensitivity.

    Allergies are some of the most frustrating disorders for your veterinarian to treat. Although not many animals (or people) die of allergies, few get totally better. We are still very much in the infancy of our understanding of all the pathways that lead to the development and outward signs of an allergy.

    If other causes of the dog’s chewing cannot be demonstrated — if no mites are seen, no warts, no contact dermatitis, and so on — then the presence of allergies should be suspected. Your veterinarian can perform tests that will help narrow down and confirm the source of your dog’s problem. The investigation may involve biopsies, food trials of novel protein (e.g., fish and potato, rabbit and rice), skin testing, and medication. Your veterinarian also may refer your dog to a specialist, such as a board-certified dermatologist, to work up the foot chewing.

    Although most allergies can never be cured, the majoirty can be managed. The bottom line is that with the help of your veterinarian, your dog can be made more comforatable. Medication, special diets, and hyposensitization are all avenues that your veterinarian may explore. Don’t let your canine friend be miserable: Get your dog’s foot chewing and paw licking examined and treated.

  12. lhasalhady says:

    Because this topic continues to bring lots of hits on the site, this is obviously a huge problem for dog owners. Recently I was contacted privately about a Lhasa Apso named Lilah She’s had swollen red feet most of her life. Her owners have some luck using steroids, but when treatment is stopped, her feet swell back up. I decided to tap into Katy’s wealth of knowledge:

    Hi Debby,

    Here’s my two cents:

    If it was a yeast infestation, it would not be red and swollen, at least not in my experience.

    Sadie still has some yeast on the upper pad on one of her feet, and it is yellow and crusty and itches, but is not red or swollen.

    Since Lilah has been this way since she was about a year old, and numerous vets have told him that it is an allergy, I would think that would be his best approach.

    She could be allergic to something in the household, floor cleaner, carpet cleaning chemicals, fabric softener, air freshener, especially those plug in kinds, etc. She could be reacting to chemicals sprayed on the lawn. She could even be allergic to the carpet itself. Are they using any commercial flea treatments? Does the woman wear perfume?

    All these things are potential allergens for little dogs and people, too.

    Dogs, for the most part, are not designed to eat carbs, especially corn. Check her diet and make sure they are no perservatives or “unpronounceable” chemicals in her food. She could certainly be allergic to something in processsed food, any number of things, including the protein source.

    They need to do some detective work and find the common denominator in her reaction.

    It’s something that’s been present pretty much her whole life, sounds like.

    If Lilah were my dog, I’d immediately eliminate any chemicals in the household, especially those she might come into contact with on floors, bedding, etc. Clean everything with hot water, steam, quit using fabric softener make sure no chemicals were used anywhere she walks or lays down. And I’d definitely put her on a very restricted raw diet, like Primal or Nature’s Variety Lamb, for a while. She’ll eat raw, especially if they warm it gently on the stove (not in the microwave, which disrupts protein molecules in a dangerous way).

    And, I’d advise them to take her to a holistic vet who understands food and contact allergies and could encourage them and advise them on a wholistic approach to treating her.

    I use a Shark Steam Cleaner for my floors (hot steam cleans and disinfects amazingly well). We have no carpet, just tile. I use cider vinegar for fabric softening in the washing machine, and only use fragrance free detergent. No pesticides or chemicals on the grass.

    We do this for our own health as much as for the dogs. But especially, keep the floors free of any chemicals. They walk barefoot on them all the time.

    I am still continually treating Sadie for her yeast to keep it under control. In addition to her raw diet (Primal and Nature’s Variety, tripe, raw skinned chicken necks) I give her my raw goatmilk kefir for the probiotics it contains and grapefruit seed extract daily, to continue to fight the yeast. She gets no carbs at all, not even in treats.

    For what it’s worth,

    Lilah’s owner : I want to thank you for following up on this with your friend. She offers new ideas that we had never heard before. Hopefully by using some of her advice we can heal Lilah’s feet.

  13. Gina says:

    I had a Lhaso Apsos before and he constantly chewed on his feet and it wasn’t fleas my animals get ther monthly advatage I have two Shitz Zu now and they do the same thing I’ve bought special shampoo from the vet that was supposed to help but it didn’t and I tried alot of different ones I even added vinegar to their bath water still itching anyine have any home remedy remedies because I can;t afford anythig elese and I hate buyibg diffent types of shampoo and getting no results

  14. Kathy says:

    Hi Gina,
    Itchy feet can be related to allergies, yeast, obsessive compulsive behavior, and a whole host of other causes/contributing factors. And it sure sounds like you have tried many remedies without resolving the mystery. Here’s my 2 cents: try adding a scant teaspoon of unflavored, lowfat yogurt once a day to your dogs’ diet. Milk products can cause distress in some dogs, so go lightly. And give foot baths once a week maybe providing some relief–just use regular doggy shampoo if you have already tried the vet prescribed type and thoroughly dry their paws. It’s a frustrating problem but hang in there and give your pups a hug!
    Best luck!

  15. Pam says:

    My 7 year old Lhaso “Joey” has only had the itchy feet problem for the last couple of years. We live in the same house, with the same flooring, same carpet, same yard and plants, etc., so I was baffled at “why” he was so itchy all of a sudden. FIrst thing, I changed his dog food to an allergy-free”no grain” formula. I also made sure he doesn’t get carbs or other human/dog diet hazards. But, still his itchy feet problem continued to the point I’m afraid he’ll chew his poor little feet off! One day I was thinking about my husband’s itchy scalp and how Selsun Blue shampoo helped HIS problem, soI tried soaking Joey’s feet in this solution for about a minute per foot, rinsing thoroughly afterward. It really seems to help a lot for about a week, and then I need to soak his feet again because the itching comes back.

  16. Amanda says:

    I have a foot and body chewer. I had him allergy tested by my vet, as his condition seems to approach a quality of life terrain that I do not want to approach with my little guy. He only had a strong allergy to fleas, nothing else, foods included. Though I have tried many different foods leading up to getting him tested. I live in a dense urban environment where contact with fleas is constant. I rotate his flea prevention to keep it working as best as I can, but managing the symptoms he has to the inevitable flea bites, is where my battles are won and lost. I bathe him in baby shampoo as it is hypo allergenic, tear free, and soap free, yet costs very little. I then rinse him in baking soda water, which maintains the natural Ph of his skin, and also costs very little. I am forced to bathe him more than I feel is good for his skin, due to many environmental factors including the terrifically high level of pollen and fleas, constantly present in south texas. While I occasionally resort to vet meds and benedryl, the bathing rituals are my best defense. Secondarily, keeping his coat short aids this endeavor almost as much as any other factor. I simply can not keep all of the allergens away from his skin when his coat is thick. I always feel badly when I wait to long to shear him, as the amount of dead skin and irritated spots on him never cease to amaze me. I feed a quality diet, and am mindful of his treats. Eggs, and oils are always great, and he loves fresh veggies. I would say that, at times, I still find myself on the losing side of this battle, but typically only when I am not practicing the things I outlined with the diligence I have come to recognize they require. I elected to have the allergy test, as food trials are so lengthy a process and so easily interrupted, often without owner knowledge, as your pet simply consumes something containing the omitted ingredient from the floor or sidewalk without your notice. I hope this information helps someone with their own companions.

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