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Question DetailsAsked on 4/24/2015

Blue Springs Mo for a vet. 64014

My dog has been on ear medicine for weeks and he still scratches them raw and they smell terribly. I'm using Posatex, it was really expensive. I'm trying to cut out treats thinking he might be allergic to them. Also chews his feet - allergies?

Thanks Cheri. Looking for a good vet that is close.

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Hi Cheri,

This is Sarah B. in Member Care. I'm happy to help!

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Answered 5 years ago by Member Services


Based on our experience, those symtoms could well be allergy, and it can take quite a time to track down the things it is allergic to. In our case, was fish and poultry and also spring walks along the street - presumably because of concentrations of pollen there that washed off the sstreet. Also was allergic to fungal growth in he yard during the wet season, when mushrooms and such were popping up in the lawn and surrounding woods.

Dog's paws and ears are commonly the first place an allergy expresses itself - though the ear thing could also be ear mites conincidentally at the same time- we had that too, so you have to check with a kleenex on your finder to remove some of the "creeping brown crud" from the ear and check with strong magnifying glass to see if there are mites or not. Dogs can really scratch and lick ears/feet raw in no time at all, and willlick of some pretty nasty tasting paw treatments to try to alleviate the irritation,so you can't just dope the feet with medication like benadryl creme unless you also put on boots that the stuff can't seep through when they lick. And of course, talk to vet beforeusing benadryl creme and howmuch you can put onto avoid overdosing, and you can't use it when also giving in pill form, so takes a determined regimen at times to bring it under control. Usually took us 3-5 days, and up to 2 weeks to cure an outbreak.

We end up initially using benadryl (dose depending on weight, per vet's instructions of course) to knock the reaction down, then treated for up to a couple of weeks every time there was an outbreak. Used daily foot washing in a wound cleaning solution the vet gave us, then after drying the paws well a diaper rash creme on the paws (in between the pads) to solve the cracking and relieve the irritation from the licking, benedryl to relive the itching, and Oticleans to clean the ears twice daily, followed with drying and then Otamax medication to treat the ear itchiness or ear mites. Otimax works very well but can cause deafness - our dog started going deaf at about 10 and went totally deaf by about 14 - but some of that could have been old age too, no way to know. But deaf is better than a dog being driven mad with itching.

Talk to your vet - changing foods and treats to find one that does not cause the problem, vacuum rugs well and often to remove tracked-in irritants, perhaps limit time out in the lawn/yard until you find what causes irritation and what does not. Obviously easier to eliminate outdoor influences if you have snow cover in the winter - if it goes totally away in winter once you get snow, undoubtedly outside irritant. If continues unabated, indoor or food irritant. Also, if intenstinal irritation, throwing up right after eating, or acid reflux at night most likely food related - and not feeding (or leaving out any food) ANYTHING (including treats) for several hours before bedtime can help with thatissue. If you are real lucky you will have a mixture of causes like us, which can take a year or more to sort out the different causes.

Once you start getting it under control, check the ears (vet should show you how) and between the pads at least twice weekly to look for signs of irritation starting up, and watch for any licking. With a younger dog, you may be able to train it not to lick with a determined training and reward program - but you have to be careful to reward it when it is thinking about licking but not actually doing it and is stopping, not reward it for stopping AFTER already licking because then it will learn that if it gets caught licking it will get rewarded - you want to reward it for going to lick but stopping before doing so. A fine line, but if you pull the paw away or it pulls away when about to lick when you tell it - no lick - and then reward it, you can train (at least our dog did) it not to lick at all as long as you keep the irritation levels under control. Obviously easier to do if someone is home with the dog all day so it cannot lick unattended. Ours had one episode when everyone was out of the house for a couple of hours where it scratched its face half clear of fur and skin, scratching at itself with the hind claws and/or front dewclaws - came home to a guilty dog lying on the bed on a blood-soaked blanket, so it can get quite serious when they are itching madly. At times like that, you need to put then in nylon booties and possibly even a muzzle that covers the front teeth too when no one is at home. In extreme cases, one of our neighbors had to sedate the dog when they were gone until they were able to get it on an allergy vaccine that worked.

We ended up, after about 4 months of fighting it with only partial success (the food end) having to go with the full allergy skin test (about $500 over a decade ago) and then allergy shots we injected under the skin every 2-4 weeks depending on season (about $200/year for vaccine and needles) to handle the outside environmental irritants, and found treats (VitaKraft doggy yogurt drops and Carry Out Steak and Cheese or Carry Out Steak treats [fromWalMart] in our case) and dogfood - Pedigree Longevity (not the chicken flavored one in our case) worked. After determining the source issues and several modifications to the vaccine composition over about 3 years, our dog got to the point that she only got caught trying to lick maybe a half dozen times a year and had zero instances of licking or scratching to the point of noticeable damage or redness for the last 10 years or so of her life - though the earmite issue did recur every spring, but she was a floppy-eared dog which have that problem more.

Oh - and on earmites and such - licking the paws or scratching the ears does NOT necessarily mean something on the paws/ears themselves is necessarily the problem - the paws (between the pads) and ears get irritated because of the immune system histamine reaction to the irritation, which might be from food, ear mites, fleas, allergens on the skin, etc - so treating the paws/ears is commonly a matter of alleviating the irritation and repairing damage from extreme licking or nibbling, not actually removing or treating an irritant at that specific location- although things like lawn or fungal irritants can cause issues in the paws and ears. Ditto to other body parts being sensitive to the histamines produced by the body in reaction to an irritant, like eye membranes, belly, bottom, armpits, etc on some dogs and depending on how severe the reaction is.

Bathing - too much can irritate the skin by removing the natural oils but too little leaves irritants on the dog - we sometimes bathed as often as weekly in bad lawn fungus growth season, otherwise monthly - using a somewhat hard to get but terrific (if you lets it sit on the dog as specified before washing it off) anti-itch shampoo called Relief Shampoo - we got from Vet originally, then when they stopped carrying it from Amazon and then Doctors Foster and Smith (online animal supply store). Can also get from the company directly now - DVM Pharmaceuticals - and I see it listed on the web at 1800PetMeds and Amazon also - a $15-20 bottle lasted 6-12 months in our case with medium-sized, medium-length hair dog.

For skin drying irritation they sometimes prescribe fish oil - either in food or as a liquid additive or in pill form - course, that does not help if your dog is allergic to it. Works well with some, not at all with others, but does make for terrible fish-breath and oily fur.

Definitely see a vet, who may well direct you to an allergy specialist. And be patient - it takes time to find the irritant and the cure, and it can take a week to four easy to see any change after taking a specific measure, so it can easily take 6-12 months before you really feel you are winning the battle - but it is SO satisfying when you finally see your pet enjoying life without the allergic irritation or distress, not to mention not having to explain the bloody footprints across your floor to visitors who are wondering if your pet walked through a bloody crime scene somewhere in the house.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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