Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pooches: On Itchy Dogs

When we first adopted our pups, and we entered this 'hidden underworld',  we didn't realize that this would also enter us into the allergy and itchy skin discussion club. So many of our fellow pit bull-type dog friends suffer from itchy skin, and it seems to be one of the most questioned and discussed topics among owners.
Luckily for us, our pups' conditions have been minimal.
When I first adopted Miss M, she was always a bit itchy and I never realized how many things could be involved with food allergies. We realized that she doesn't do well with chicken and when we changed her diet it cleared up quite quickly.
Beyond that, we work to keep our pups' skin well-hydrated by incorporating fish oil into their meals and using a humidifier in our home. If we see any hot spots, we've been using virgin coconut oil topically which is a good moisturizer and is not harmful if ingested.
We have had limited experiences, though this is something we get asked about often. One of our dog friends even asked us the following question:

Have you ever done a post on the blog about sore paws and how to treat them? We are trying to help our pup because his paws are quite sore. He has allergies, and the vet likes to give him steroids, and antibiotics for infection. He took the meds in the summer, and I guess they helped some, yet now he has irritated paws. 
After reading on the internet about foot soaks in chamomile tea and Betadine, we are trying that, but we need to do more of it. I spray his feet with a tea tree oil/aloe/chamomile hot spot spray by Vet's Best that we got at Petco, and it helps. We would be grateful for any ideas you have about this.

We are definitely not experts, and we would love to hear your thoughts about helping your itchy pup, and if you do have any advice for sore paws.
Thoughts?


Also:
This was also something new to us too 
Extra winter precautions


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21 comments:

Elisa Witkowski said...

I would love to hear some ideas too. I have two dogs, one who has minimal issues, but the other dog suffers from hot spots and he is always itching himself. I don't know what to do anymore!

HannahG said...

Coconut oil (Extra Virgin) may not be as heavy-duty as Tea Tree Oil in that department, but I swear it works magic on all irritated skin -- paws included. Don't be afraid to use a lot!

Diana K said...

My girl (a GSD mix) has very itchy skin and seasonal allergies. After trial and error, we do this:

An allergy shot once per month (depo)during the spring/summer; a benadryl every morning; a weekly/bi-weekly bath using either Cloud Star Buddy Wash Lavender shampoo with conditioner or WEN Pets. We also feed her coconut oil.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't once you get a routine down. We also use the coconut oil to brush her teeth - she loves it.

We always know when she's due for her shot - she starts licking at her paws and they will be very red and irritated. The shot takes care of that in about 1 day.

Andrea said...

A lot of allergies are food based. So first look at the food you're feeding. The top ingredients that can cause allergies are grains, corn, wheat, and soy. If you are feeding a grained food, definitely try a grain free to see if that helps (will take about two weeks to notice a difference).

I also agree with the use of coconut oil. It's a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Rub it all over the feet and get in between the pads.

Shari said...

When I first found Dixie she would get these terrible hot spots at the base of her tail. My vet said she has a flea allergy. Since I never saw fleas on any of my dogs I didn't think that was it. He said all it takes is one flea so we put her on Comfortis and she hasn't had a hot spot in 5 years. Now she is on Trifexis which is a combination of flea preventative and heart worm.

Sarah said...

Our dog Atticus has allergies that also lead to itchy skin and painful paws. Our new vet (we switched form the one that always had him on steriods and antibiodics) said we should try Zyrtec once a day. It definitely helps. Atticus doesn't lick his paws as much and he does not seem to be itchy. I am noticing more scratching within the last couple days and I think it's because of the lack of humidity, so it's time for a bath and a coconut oil rubdown. His skin and coat are much healthier after the rubdown.

It can be hard to figure out what your dog is allergic to, especially if it isn't food. We know Atticus is allergic to beef, so we stay away form that and most red meats, but he definitely has some environmental allergies so I think the Zyrtec helps with those.

Also, feeding your dog the best food you can afford is a good way to keep allergies at bay. We feed The Honest Kitchen, but that might not be possible for others. Just get the food with the least amount of ingredients and it might help out with allergies as well.

ohmelvin.com said...

Since Melvin was dubbed "World Most Allergic Dog" we have a lot of experience with what I call, raw paw. The best course of action is to use sensitive baby wipes after each walk. Get the allergens off the moment they come in. Baby wipes are gentle on the already red paws. There are a lot of things you can put on the paw to treat it, many mentioned here but my main goal has always been to stop Melvin from licking his paws, licking perpetuates the problem. Socks have worked great for us, although at first he used to eat them!

Maggie said...

Aquaphor! Seriously, slather that all over the paws (cover them with tube socks if you have to keep your pup from licking). It has saved us. And by us I mean Emmett's paws/our sanity. His allergies manifested in his feet. It was awful until we found this. I buy it in tubs now because it helps with Coop's skin allergies, too (although Cooper tries desperately to lick it all off, so we have to watch him carefully).

Kiira said...

this is so useful. This summer has been especially brutal on Petey's feet. I hope the cooler weather brings him some relief, but I'm also going to try some of the topical suggestions in the comments.

Meghan Prial said...

My dog, a pit bull/shar pei, has struggled with skin issues since he was born. He itched until he was a bloody mess, especially his underarms and chest/neck. My vet stopped charging me for skin scrapes because we were stumped as to why he was so itchy. The only thing the seemed to help was steroids and I wasn't comfortable keeping him on them long term, not to mention the cost. My parents heard a radio ad for a product called Dinovite, a supplement for dogs, particularly for those with skin issues. I was skeptical at first, but my parents purchased for me and it worked wonders. He gets one scoop in his food daily, in addition to fish oil

Laura said...

Thanks for this post and all the great comments and ideas! Our pit bull mix, Henry, has very sore paws, as well as skin irritation, so we will try these suggestions to help him. :)

Unknown said...

Our American Bulldog has allergies - we finally gave up and took him to MI State Vet Clinic and had allergy testing done because his feet were so bad. He takes a shot once a week throughout the summer of a serum they mix up for him, plus a very small steroid dose (2 tabs a week) and 2 antihistamines per day. The antihistamines seem to work wonders - our vet gives him 140 at a time for only $19, so it's very reasonable. Just waiting for a freeze so this will clear up a bit!

adventuresofadogmom said...

We've never had to deal with sore paws but plenty of other itchies. From what I've heard about the paws it's best to keep them as clean as possible, rub coconut oil into the pads and always, always have the pup wear booties when going outside, this way they don't pick up any additional allergens.

Courtney said...

I follow a blog by a girl who adopted a pittie with allergies. Some of the allergy issues are food based, but others are environmental. Her dog wears boots outside to help protect her feet (which become inflamed). You can read about her experiences here: http://zevandlexi.wordpress.com

OG said...

Great info in the post and the comments! I've started on fish oil!

Annie & Pauls Mom said...

With Annie, I tend to wipe her paws down as soon as we come in from any time outside. Nothing fancy, just baby wipes with aloe in them. It doesn't fix all of it, but it takes the edge off. I've also got musher's secret may also protect their paws a bit from whatever is bothering them. What about putting on disposable dog boots like M&B use in the winter?

Two French Bulldogs said...

Fish oil and coconut oil are really helpful. Unfortunately my Lily meets with a dermatologist due to allergies. She takes Atopica is is the cure all for her. We tried everything for her.
Benny & Lily

sweetemaline said...

In addition to fish oil and coconut oil, I've had great luck with local goats milk, which helps reduce allergic reactions. Just a splash every day on their food is enough to do the trick. Worked wonders with former foster Polly Pocket!

Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie
www.ourwaldobungie.com

Tucker The Crestie said...

Tucker had terrible allergies when I first adopted him. A raw diet is the one thing that had the most marked effect, and I do use some supplements here and there. EFAs are important, as you mentioned, and I really like Sh-Emp Oil (I order it from the Whole Dog Journal website - it's a combination of cold water herring oil, organic extra virgin coconut oil,and organic cold pressed hemp seed oil. For a dog with a really serious issue, your reader may find some help here:
http://becauseofbuddy.com/

Oh, one other thing. I moved recently, and am now in a mixed development community of townhomes and single family homes where the common areas and grounds are cared for by a maintenance company that is obviously using something to treat the grass that is causing Tucker's paws to break out and get itchy and red. It's clearly a topical allergy, and went away completely when we went on vacation for a week, so I just make sure to wipe his feet with unscented baby wipes when we come in from outdoors, and in the evenings a few times a week I massage a small amount of straight coconut oil into his feet and paw pads to combat dryness and soothe any irritation.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

I'm just catching up on your blog, and had to comment on this post. I completely agree with Melvin-- wiping the feet off after walks is really important. I also am a huge believer in a weekly bath. We use an anti-fungal shampoo called Malaseb.

I've tried all the more natural approaches (fish oil, goat's milk, raw diet, no grains, etc. etc.), but none of them have been as effective as regular baths and paw wiping. We also put Zoe in a "cone of shame" when we aren't home because she tends to gnaw on her paws when she's bored.

Toughie said...

I find apple cider vinegar works really well. Watered down about 2:3 in a spray bottle, it clears hot spots up in no time at all, and it seems to help with other itchy/sore spots. Personally I'm not a fan of the smell when it's first sprayed on, but I'll take the smell of something natural over an unnecessary chemical any day. Some corn starch on an itchy arm pit seems to help as well. Good luck :D

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