Q. My 4-year-old Lab chews on his paws all day and rubs ‘till his ears are raw and scabby. The vet gives him a shot when he gets really bad and I’m always putting drops in his ears for his constant infections!
Sounds like you need a veterinary dermatologist. When skin problems seem unmanageable, sometimes that’s the best thing to do. In the meantime, consider this:
The bulk of dogs who lick and chew at their paws and get chronic ear infections are suffering from allergies. This allergy typically manifests as yeast infections in ears and between the toes, but can also look like redness, hairless bumps on the inside of ear flaps and in the webbing of their feet, or even crusts and scabs, as you describe.
Most who experience constant symptoms are primarily suffering from an allergic reaction to the proteins and/or carbohydrates in their foods. That means your pet may be allergic to one or more proteins like milk, eggs, beef, chicken, lamb, soy, turkey, duck and/or to one or more of any number of carbs.
Because the standard skin and blood tests for allergies don’t work well for these ingested proteins and carbohydrates, a feeding trial is undoubtedly the best method for diagnosing a food-related allergy. Sometimes called an “elimination diet,” a feeding trial means we eliminate all of the proteins and carbohydrate we believe your allergic cat or dog may have been exposed to and very strictly offer them new ones.
Here’s when we veterinarians ask you, the pet owner, to either purchase ungodly-expensive bags and cans of foods (with strange ingredients like duck and potato or kangaroo and oats), or spend time whipping up canine cuisine in your home kitchen.
While it may seem like your vet’s gone off the deep end on this one, trust her for 12 weeks of this trial. After all, if it doesn’t work, you can always go see that dermatologist.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami and blogs at www.dolittler.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.