Because your dog has had ear problems and is licking at all of his paws, the most common cause of these type of symtpoms would be atopic dermatiitis (canine allergies).
Unfortunately, most dogs do require steroids and antihistamines to remain comfortable. For some dogs this period is only in the warmer months, but for many it is an all year-round problem. Most of my atopy patients are well-controlled on a drug called Temaril-P, which is a combination of an antihistamine with a small amount of prednisone.
There are other treatment options that do not involve chronic use of steroids. One that is easy to try is a straight course of antihistamines. Different dogs will respond differently to different drugs, so it may be the case that several antihistamines must be tried before the right one is found. The most common ones used are benadryl (diphenhydramine) and chlorpheniramine. Many dogs will not respond to antihistamines alone, and another modality must be added. The most common is to use a special shampoo designed for allergic dogs. Because allergens that affect dogs do so by landing on the dog's skin (instead of being inhaled, as they do in people), the allergies can be decreased with frequent shampooing with an appropriate product, such as Histacalm. Your vet can recommend an appropriate product for you.
Another option is allergy testing, either using a blood profile or intradermal skin testing. With either of these tests, the dog can be evaluated for sensitivity to specific allergens, and then a unique "vaccine" is made for the dog to treat these. The animal is usually given gradually increasing amounts of the allergy serum over the course of many weeks to months. This is called hyposensitization therapy, and has the least side effects of any allergy treatment. This works in about 67% of dogs.
There is a new drug available now for allergic dogs called Atopica. This is designed specifically for veterinary use. It can be very effective, and does not have the negative side effects of using long-term steroids, however, it is also quite expensive. If you are interested in trying this, you should talk to your veterinarian about ordering you some.
I am attaching a client information handout that I use in my practice that discusses atopy in more detail. I hope that you find it useful. Click Here
I hope that this information has been of some help to you, and that your dog feels better soon. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.