Is your dog constantly chewing at his paws no matter what you try and do to stop it? If he is, there’s a good chance that he has allergies.
Every dog, no matter the breed, can be susceptible to allergies. As an owner, it’s upsetting to see your dog showing signs of discomfort. Canines with allergies tend to scratch or chew the affected areas on their body. When it comes to your dog’s paws, these reactions can lead to injury and secondary infections, which can affect the dog’s gait.
While some canines are born with allergies, others pick them up later on in life. It’s important to identify what the actual allergy is, as opposed to blindly treating symptoms.
You may notice the paws aren’t the only itchy part of your dog’s body. Some canines suffer recurring ear infections which in the long-term, could cause irreparable damage.
What causes itchy paws in dogs?
Before you focus on allergies, it’s important to rule out any behavioural issues first. Some dogs, be it through boredom or anxiety will pick up compulsive habits such as paw licking when they’re anxious or bored. If you’re finding it hard in determining if this is the issue, you may want to contact an animal behaviourist.
If it’s allergies, you want to find out what’s causing your dog to have an allergic reaction. Itchy paws are caused by a variety of different allergens. Below is a list of the usual culprits! The first three are the most common causes of allergies in dogs.
- Food Allergies
- Pollen (Grass, Trees, Weeds)
- Flea Saliva
- Dust Mites
- Moulds & Chemicals
Dogs with food allergies display symptoms all year round compared to seasonal pollen. Your dog may also experience gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
Pollen affects dogs seasonally. That means symptoms are at their worst during the Spring and Summer. Over time, continuous exposure to an allergen could cause a dog’s immune system to overreact. The antibodies and antigens attach to a mast cell which let out histamines. If too many histamines are released, your dog will produce symptoms such as swelling, itching, and redness.
Dogs suffering from flea allergy dermatitis are sensitive to saliva. Just one bite is enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Typical signs include rashes, scabs, hair loss, and severe itching for up to two weeks.
A dog that has inhaled mould spores will show difficulty breathing and may discharge mucus or pus from the nose. Those that have ingested mould will experience a decrease in appetite, runny stools and vomiting.
Other allergic reactions include itching, chewing, and dry and inflamed skin. Mould allergies typically emerge between the ages of twelve weeks to three years.
Symptoms: What are the Signs?
Noticing the signs of allergies can prevent your dog’s discomfort from escalating. Below are the common symptoms experienced by dogs with allergies.
· Red skin/inflammation
· Excessive itching/chewing
· Recurring ear infections (smelly dirty ears, head shaking, and scratching)
· Hair loss
· Flaky skin
· Watery eyes/runny nose
· Facial swelling
Act fast! Excessive paw licking can cause bacterial or yeast infections resulting in even more discomfort!
How Can I Manage Itchy Paws?
There are several tests you can use to determine the root cause of a dog’s allergies. The two forms of allergy tests are blood tests and intradermal skin testing. The latter is highly effective, but you’ll need a veterinarian dermatologist to do it.
Once you’ve established your dog’s triggers it will be easier to avoid them! Don’t be shocked if your dog is allergic to more than one thing … ! Most dogs suffer from multiple allergies as opposed to one.
To tackle food allergies a change of diet is needed. You can try an elimination diet to pinpoint the cause, but this can be time-consuming. Switching to a raw diet may help as it reduces the number of additives and common food allergens in your dog’s diet.
You can also consult with your holistic vet to find out what they would recommend, as every dog is different. They may even suggest a food allergy test to narrow down the cause.
And don’t forget about the treats you give your dog. Only treats approved by your vet should be given. One treat can easily trigger an allergic reaction landing you right back to square one.
If you believe your dog is affected by pollen, take walks when the pollen count has lowered. It’s also best to avoid grass when pollen is high so stick to the pavements. Once inside, clean your dog’s paws with a damp cloth and dry with a towel. If they’ve had a walk or roll about in the grass, clean the coat and belly as you would with the paws. It’s important to thoroughly groom your dog as pollen and other allergens can stick to the dog’s fur.
Booties are a great way to protect your dog’s paws when out and about! It prevents contact with allergens such as weeds, pollen, and grass. Booties also protect your dog’s paws from hot pavements, rocky grounds, snow, and much more!
When it comes to fleas, it’s the saliva that really irritates dogs. Prevention is the best way to manage fleas because once your dog has them, they’re hard to get rid of! Fleas can survive for months and you won’t be able to spot them in the cleanest of homes!
If you suspect fleas are the troublesome culprits be sure to check all of your pets. Ensure all household pets are up to date with their treatment.
To prevent issues with dust mites and/or fleas, daily hoovering will be needed. Your home might look clean, but there may still be particles lying around just waiting to irritate your dog’s skin!
When washing your dog’s bed and blankets use non-biological products. It’s much better for sensitive skin. Many owners are unaware of the irritation biological washing products can cause to dogs.
Household cleaning products are another cause for concern. Look for natural alternatives that are dog friendly and steer clear of chemical cleaners. Candles, air fresheners, and other artificial chemicals can also cause adverse effects.
It’s impossible to completely stop mould exposure but it is possible to reduce the contact. Wipe the dog’s fur with a damp cloth to remove any mould spores. Moisture is a breeding ground for mould so ensure your dog’s bed is kept dry.
Natural Remedies for Itchy Paws
Trying to find the cause of your dog’s allergies can take a lot of time, even with assistance from your holistic vet. Waiting for a trip to the vet can feel like months for a dog suffering from symptoms of allergies. The good news is there are natural remedies you can use to soothe your dog’s irritation.
A cold compress such as ice in a towel, or just simply cold water can provide up to half an hour of relief. Whilst it isn’t a long time, it can at least provide temporary assistance. Add Epsom salts to a paw soak to enhance the soothing qualities.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is prized for relieving itchy skin. It’s been scientifically proven to hinder candida and contains anti-fungal properties. Unlike the dog’s immune system, Apple Cider Vinegar obliterates the fungi’s protective barrier. Now, instead of fighting a losing battle, the body can effectively destroy the fungus.
Get a spray bottle, create a solution of 50% Apple Cider Vinegar with 50% water. Once mixed, spray the affected areas. To better target the paws, soak them in this solution for up to 5 minutes. Do not use this on a wound or raw skin as this will be painful.
Oatmeal Bath Soak
Oatmeal baths are one of the oldest natural remedies still used today! Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and can reduce the dog’s swelling, itchiness, and redness. Simply fill the bath with lukewarm water. Crush the oats into a powder then mix into the bath. You will need one and a half cups of oatmeal.
Colloidal Oatmeal is easier to use as it has already been turned into powder. While the dog is having a soak, massage the solution across their body.
As opposed to baths an oatmeal paste can be created instead. Again, crush the oats and slowly add water until you end up with a smooth paste. This can then be placed on the affected areas where it can work its magic!
Rather unheard of in the healing department is baking soda! It’s great for autoimmune diseases such as skin allergies in canines thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It works to calm the dog’s immune system, slowing down its attacks on the body. The acid-neutralizing qualities also help balance out the PH levels.
Use 50% water with 50% baking soda to create a paste. Once applied, leave on the skin for up to half an hour. The paste will dry out any rashes, decrease redness, and relieve any itching. As the solution dries out the skin, moisturize the area with Coconut oil.
Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for dogs suffering from dry, flaky skin. Not only this, but it also acts as a preventive barrier, blocking any irritants from reaching the skin. It has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties.
Simply massage the oil into the paws and let it get to work! Use at night or whenever the dog is asleep for better effectiveness. Ensure the coconut oil is chilled and solid by keeping it in the fridge.
Probiotics Natural Yoghurt
Probiotics are known to balance the bacteria levels inside the gut microbiome. The probiotic contains Lactobacillus which produces Hydrogen Peroxide thus killing Candida. It can be a great remedy to combat yeast infections and even food allergies. Buy some plain yoghurt, sugar-free of course and place this in the dog’s meal.
The daily intake should be one tablespoon for small dogs, two for medium, and three for large. Dogs suffering from lactose intolerance may experience an upset tummy if consumed. Natural Greek Yoghurt has the lowest levels of lactose.
Probiotics enhance the number of good bacteria found in the gut. This increases the dog’s chance of fighting off those pesky pathogens! It’s also great for easing digestion and reduces the possibility of constipation.
Chamomile & Green Tea Bath Soak
The anti-inflammatory and soothing effects of Chamomile and Green tea will work on both humans and dogs! The anti-microbial properties kill microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast.
To combat itchy paws, create the solution with one tea bag for each cup of water used. Ensure the water has been boiled before adding the teabag. Allow this to cool down first before using it on the dog’s paws. You can also directly place the tea bags on the affected areas. If there are further itchy spots across the body a Chamomile and Green tea bath should be given.
Did you know, Chamomile tea bags are also used to combat conjunctivitis in dogs?
This plant is well-known for its healing powers! Cut the leaf to reveal the inner gel and apply it directly to the irritated paws. It’s harmless to dogs so don’t worry if it has been ingested.
If there is still some gel left over, place the leaf in the fridge and use it within three days. Aloe Vera plants don’t need much looking after to grow so why not keep a plant at home? That way, you can quickly relieve your canine from discomfort.
Your dog may need regular baths to help stop the itch. Regular bathing is needed to care for the skin. Use natural shampoos that are soap-free or hypoallergenic. This will make sure you don’t strip your dog’s coat and skin of important oils and moisture.
It’s best to consult with your vet first as they may be able to supply a medicated shampoo. If the allergy symptoms are severe wash your dog weekly. Remember, an allergy can’t be cured, just managed. Once you begin to see a difference in your pet, reduce washing to two weeks.
If the itching and chewing are starting to cause injury you might need to resort to a pet cone (Elizabethan collar). This will prevent them from reaching the itchy areas, causing further damage.
Itchy paws can be a big problem for you and your dog. Natural remedies can help ease the discomfort but it’s important for you to find the root cause.