Tag Archives: dog allergies

Itchy dog paws season is here

Have you noticed that Fall is itchy dog paws season?

You may be in another room and you hear the repetitive “lick, lick, lick” that means your dog is tirelessly going after paws. No amount of training seems to help – the itch is relentless. And the paws wind up red/rusty color at the least. At worst, your dog develops sores or hot spots with loss of fur.

For years, we were under the impression that our dogs who suffered this way had seasonal allergies, or hay fever of some kind. Now, we’re not so sure.

Research says not allergies

The more we looked into it, we discovered that dogs aren’t actually prone to as many allergies as people. What they are subject to is fungus. Particularly yeast infections.  

The fungus that most people are familiar with is athlete’s foot. Which many people get when they’re barefoot in humid, damp areas. Where fungus thrives.

The most common foot fungal infection in dogs is yeast, rather than the one that causes athlete’s foot, but the itch and irritation is similar.

When you think about it, it’s completely logical that dogs’ itchy paws have similar causes. Dogs are barefoot all the time. And at this time of year, they’re walking through moldy, damp leaves, frost-covered grass, and the aftermath of a hot, wet summer. 

Dry is good

It’s really interesting that most advice for dealing with itchy paws involves adding more wet. Washing the paws, epsom salt soaks, ointments or balms.

It’s more logical to us that the answer lies in keeping dogs’ paws dry. Fungus thrives in damp, moist environments.

If you rinse your dog’s paws when you come back in the house, be sure to dry them, too. And not just the dogs’ pads on the bottom. Dry off between the toes – where the constant licking keeps things dark and moist. The perfect environment for fungus.

Voice of experience

Photo of two dogs focusing on their itchy paws

Hope’s French Bulldog Torque has been a chronic paw-licker. Until the last year or so. When she started using a medicated foot powder on him. He doesn’t like the taste, so he leaves it alone. And his paws have stayed clear of the redness and itch. If he starts licking, his paws get another dash of powder. 

If you (or your vet) are concerned about the safety of an athlete’s foot powder meant for people, you can certainly use a benign, drying agent like corn starch. It’s something you probably already have around, and may be worth a try.

Expert advice

If your dog’s itchy paws don’t get relief with this simple home remedy, of course you should consult a veterinarian. Itchy paw season isn’t fun for either you or your dog.

It’s Itchy Paws Season!

We don’t know about you, but we can always tell when Spring has truly arrived – it’s Itchy Paws season at our house. This year it’s been particularly wet, with record-breaking rainfall, and it’s worse than usual. 

French Bulldogs are known for allergies, and Torque’s itchy paws are no surprise. The new development this year has been Booker, Fran’s older Boston Terrier, showing the tell-tale sign of redness in his paws. 

We understand that the redness is caused by porphyrin, which is a relatively benign chemical dogs excrete in their tears and saliva. It’s the cause of staining on fur both under the eyes and on the paws. By itself, porphyrin is harmless. It does permanently stain the fur, but if you can stop the excessive tearing, or paw-licking, when new fur grows in it will be the dog’s normal fur color.

The itching is probably caused by allergies and/or yeast. The wet Spring this year creates perfect conditions for both.

We try and we try

We’ve been dealing with itchy paws for a long time. Dax, Hope’s first Frenchie, was actually allergic to grass. And she absolutely refused to “do her business” on cement, so we had to do something with her paws every single time she came in from outdoors. We tried rinsing with water, but she wound up with dry/cracked paws. Baby wipes came next, but something in them made the itchiness worse. We finally wound up using witch hazel, straight up, to give her some relief.

Aside from the fact that we don’t want our dogs to be uncomfortable, or have red paws, the constant licking is really annoying. Especially in the dark in the middle of the night. The constant, repetitive licking is enough to drive us crazy. We love our dogs and we want them near us at night – so we keep at the quest!

Showing between a dogs toes at his red and itchy paws.

When Hope mentioned Torque’s red paws and between-toe goo to the vet, she didn’t really like our coping mechanism of washing his paws with doggy shampoo every day. While the shampoo itself is fine, the frequency could rob his paws of natural oils and change the ph of his skin. She said to reserve the shampoo for once-a-week face washing and the occasional bath. 

She did suggest we use Bactine. Regular, old, over-the-counter “wash your childhood boo-boos” Bactine. So we did. It reduced the goo factor, but didn’t seem to help the itchy paws or the redness. 

Not alone by any means

Of course our dogs aren’t the only ones who are itchy-paw sufferers this time of year. We’ve seen quite a few posts on social media about it in the last couple of weeks. 

One that we took special note of came from a dog nutrition specialist we know. She happened on an answer for her dogs – Gold Bond Foot Powder. She particularly liked that it has baking powder in it. 

So – we’re trying it. If you have any tried-and-true solutions, we’d love to hear about them. We’ll report back on the foot powder. At this point, we’re willing to try just about anything that won’t harm our dogs.

Have we got a Spring allergy tip for you

Anything that makes life easier/smoother/less stressful is a good thing. A tiny thing that’s making a difference is a simple package of baby wipes near the back door.
Our house is weirdly and awkwardly arranged to the first thing you see when you walk in is the stove. (Unless the basement door is open – then it’s the stairs, or stars, if you take a tumble!) Which has made the stove a staging area for all the things you need as you come in or go out. Keys, poop bags, treats, etc.
Not the most convenient arrangement when you want to cook, but in a small space, you learn to make do.
Anyway, there’s been one recent addition to the flotsam that’s actually making a difference in a good way.
Baby wipes. Specifically hypo-allergenic baby wipes.

French Bulldog Torque and baby wipes

Just a quick swipe with a wipe when Torque comes inside minimizes contact allergy exposure.

Since about the middle of January, Torque’s been having some issues with allergies. At first it was just a bit of paw-licking. Then his paws were a bit raw and swollen, then he started losing some hair under his eyes, along with some redness. In other words, the little man was a mess.
At first we thought it had to be a food allergy that was just coming to the fore, since Hope took him away on vacation in early February and his whole environment changed.
So we put him on an elimination diet. And it made no difference whatsoever. The allergen had to be something environmental. With an extraordinarily warm, wet winter, some sort of mold is probably the culprit.
Torque is a two-year-old French Bulldog. And a very happy, athletic, active two year old. If he’s awake, he’s on the move and we don’t have a lot of time to “fuss” with him. Especially with Booker The Boston bouncing around, egging him on to play.
As soon as Torque steps in the house, we hit the baby wipes package and swipe his face and paws. It helps if we have a treat in our hands (There’s a treat jar on the stove, too, of course.) and ask him to “sit!” as soon as he hits the indoors. We don’t have time, or inclination, to mess with more than that.
The new system seems to be helping. He’s not gnawing at his paws so much and his face looks less irritated.
We have noticed one immediate improvement – the floors are lacking a few paw prints! Especially coming in from the wet weather, we’ve started swiping all the dogs’ paws with baby wipes. It only takes a moment and it’s already making a difference.

 

If your dog is miserable with contact allergies you may want to consider stronger measures – which may include using Pawz dog boots whenever your dog goes outside. They’re particularly effective for dogs with grass allergies.

Torque’s looking a bit lumpy

Do you have a first aid kit for your dogs?

When Fran got home from an agility trial about 2 p.m. Saturday, Torque’s face was all swollen. She called me at the shop and we went through the “how much of an emergency is this?” questions:

Is he breathing okay?
Did he vomit or have diarrhea?
Is he acting okay?
Did he eat his crate treats?

The list all had “he’s okay” results – so no immediate trip to the emergency vet. We know that lumpy swelling is usually a sign of an allergic reaction to some insect bite or sting, so we decided to give him a Benadryl and watch him. He was a bit lumpy the rest of the day, but the consensus among my Facebook friends (including a veterinarian or two), was to give him another dose and see how he was in the morning.

Sunday morning Torque looked and acted fine. The swelling had disappeared and he was his usual exuberant self; eating, playing, running around normally. So the entire family packed up and went to the second day of the agility trial – both Booker and Teddy were entered.

We had a fun day. Booker and Teddy didn’t qualify, but there were lots of good bits to both their performances. We got to spend time watching some wonderful dogs and people compete, spent time with friends. I took Torque around the venue to get him used to being at agility trials and even took him to play at the practice jump. He was fine.

Then we got home – about 3 p.m. And I took a look at Torque and his face was lumpy and allergical_Torqueswollen again. He was showing no other signs of trouble, so I gave him another Benadryl. I asked my long-distance veterinarian friend her advice, and she confirmed that as long as he wasn’t having any other symptoms, I could wait until this morning to take him to the vet.

The ebb and flow of the swelling and odd timing was a bit of a puzzle for them – but, as my friend had predicted for treatment, he got a steroid shot to calm his system down and three more days on Benadryl to keep it under control. We’re hoping that’s the end of this episode.

All of this got me thinking, we’re very “into” dogs and have all kinds of things of hand in case of emergency: Benadryl, hydrogen peroxide, gauze tape and pads, tweezers, antiseptic wash, flashlight, styptic powder (or corn starch) etc. Do you? How about dedicating a shelf in the medicine cabinet or a bin in the vanity for “dog stuff?” And putting a little kit together for the car. We should all be prepared, just in case of emergency.