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Dr. John
Dr. John, Small animal veterinarian, ER vet
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1205
Experience:  significant surgical and medicine background, currently working as emergency clinic veterinarian
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My dog has been constantly scratching and licking his paws

Customer Question

My dog has been constantly scratching and licking his paws for the past month or so also seems he has dry mouth or at least what i think is dry mouth. Last time he had this about 6 months ago the clinic I take him too gave him a shot of steroids and it seemed to help but i don't think steroids is good either. I think he may have food alergies so i took him off of pedigree and tried the supposedly better brands Blue Buffalo and wellness, he didnt sem to like those at all so I made the mistake of giving him canned food for a couple of days and now he won't eat dry food other then the occasional hard treat. Even went back to he pedigree food that he ate for 6 years.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.

Dr. John :

Thank you for your question. When did this problem first start?

Dr. John :

Also what part of the United States do you live in? Have you ever moved to a different climate?

Dr. John :

Are you there?

Dr. John :

I'm not seeing any answers from you, so let me try question and answer chat.

Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
Were you answering the questions in the chat session? If so, they weren't showing up. Please answer my questions here and from there I may have additional questions and then can proceed with my recommendations.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
i was in chat and answeing your questions did you get them?/

live in ohio and have never moved itching for about 2 months

clinic will just pump him with steroids is that safe??
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
Strange, the answers were not showing up on my screen. There are two main causes for allergies - atopy (pollen, grasses, house dust mites, etc - similar to human allergies) and food allergies. Food allergies more typically affect feet and anal glands, whereas atopy typically affects the body (however this is not a rule). Additionally, atopy has typically developed by 1-2 yrs of age and food allergies can develop at any age. Given your pet's history, I would agree that food allergies would be more likely. My recommendation is trying a novel protein diet (must be something your pet has never eaten before, such as lamb and potato). The diet must be guaranteed hypoallergenic - examples of these include IVDD and Science Diet z/d ultra. The diet must be given for 3 months minimum and NO other animal protein can be given at this time (including beef flavored heartworm prevention, etc).
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
If your pet's symptoms resolve, then the original food should be given again. If symptoms return, food allergy has been diagnosed and the hypoallergenic diet needs to be given indefinitely. If the symptoms don't resolve, the condition is not a food allergy. It is critical that your vet treats any concurrent infections during the food trial. A tape preparation should be made of the feet to look for yeast and bacteria and if these organisms are found they need to be treated as they will cause additional itching even if the actual allergy is controlled. Steroids ARE NOT a good long term solution for allergies. One injection won't hurt, but multiple injections over time have several negative side effects.
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
A third type of allergy this could be is a contact allergy. This would be unlikely unless your pet is recently walking on a different type of grass/plant/weed, etc or the reaction would have occurred previously.
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
Let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
would the alergies also cause the what seems to be dry mouth? and once i switch his food i should do so for 3 months even if the itching does not get any better?
Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
I don't know of any relationship between the allergies themselves and a dry mouth, however I'd imagine the mouth could get dry from constantly licking the feet (since a lot of saliva is left behind on the feet when they are licked). The food should be given for three months even if you initially are not recognizing any difference with the itching. It can take 6 weeks or longer for all animal protein that he has previously ingested completely out of his system. In the meantime, I would give an antihistamine to help with the itching (such as benadryl at 1mg per pound body weight) and get an e-collar so that he cannot continue to inflict self-trauma/irritation to his feet until the itchiness resolves. If it never resolves, you should talk to your vet about allergy testing (skin patch test) or trying a trial of Atopica, which is a much better long term alternative to steroids.
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Expert:  Dr. John replied 6 years ago.
Again make sure your vet diagnoses and addresses any infections that may be going on with the feet (which would have occurred secondary to the allergy and the constant licking).