Dog Paw Allergies

Everything You Need to Know About Dog Paw Allergies

Your dog has been itching and licking, and fur is flying everywhere. They're chewing their paws like they want to eat them off.

What in the world is wrong with them?

If the problem has been going on for more than a few days, your pup could be having an allergic reaction to something.

Before they chew their paws to a pulp, you need to figure out what's wrong. It may not be strictly from the dog's feet, but rather, an allergen causing them to be itchy.

Dog paws allergies

Dogs Can Develop Allergies, Too

Like humans, just because your dog has "never been allergic to anything before" doesn't mean they can't start now. Some symptoms can develop over time, such as those with seasonal allergies. Others are caused by contact with something new.

Your pup does have natural grooming tendencies, but chewing on their foot isn't one of them. If Fido suddenly starts to lick his feet multiple times a day, it's one of the signs that something's irritating him under the skin.

Signs of Allergies in Dogs

When it comes to symptoms of an allergic reaction, canine health isn't really that different from humans. The major difference is that we can tell the doctor what we're feeling, whereas, with dogs, you have to watch for visual cues.

Allergy symptoms can vary, including things like:

  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Itchiness anywhere on the skin, including feet
  • Constant chewing/licking of the dog's paw
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Swelling in the facial or earflap area
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Itchy ears
  • Multiple ear infections
  • Runny or itchy eyes

However, keep in mind that some of these signs could be seasonal allergies, or they could be something else.

3 Reasons Dogs Have Allergies

Animals can be affected by thousands of allergens. The best way to help your dog is to narrow down why they have symptoms.

Use these three main causes to figure out if you can treat the problem at home for food or seasonal allergies, or whether you need to see your veterinarian.

Environmental/Irritant Allergies

Environmental allergies are a common problem for healthy adults and dogs. Even if Fido was never allergic to anything or had any health conditions before, they can develop an environmental reaction.

One of the telltale giveaways that Fido is being affected is if he starts licking all of his paws, licking between his toes or paws, or chewing his bottom area. This problem can change by the season.

Dog itchy

Welcome to Allergy Season!

In the warmer season, your dog's fur is a magnet for any allergen or chemical around. Irritants can be something as simple as pollen or as dangerous as a pesticide or herbicide. Common allergens include mold, dust mites, grass, fertilizer, and dozens of other invisible bacteria.

There's no definite way to prevent environmental allergies from wreaking havoc on your dog's immune system. The more you can limit contact between your dog's feet and the grass or ground, the better.

You Wear Shoes; So Should Your Dog

As your pet plays outside or takes their daily walk, they pick up seasonal floaters in their fur and paws. Pollen is one of the biggies, but definitely not the only thing in the environment. No matter how clean you keep it, your home is full of allergens, too.

An investment in indoor and outdoor shoes for dogs now, like those sold by Walkee Paws, can prevent the need for treatment for itchy paws later!

However, shoes can't stop all seasonal allergies. Keeping your dog's immune system in top shape with the right food and exercise can limit the problem. And most seasonal allergies can be avoided by cleaning your dog's paws and fur every time they come inside.

Food Allergies

Dogs with a food allergy, as with humans, don't always show immediate symptoms. There are lots of ingredients in dog food, so unless you gave them something and they had an obvious allergic reaction, it can take a while to narrow this one down.

However, this type of hypersensitivity usually happens after a lot of exposure to one specific dog food brand or type.

To diagnose what's causing your furry family member's immune system to overreact, you can analyze every ingredient in the dog food and compare it to another. Or, you can talk to your vet, who probably can pinpoint specific allergens based on the dog food brand.

Skin Conditions

Atopic dermatitis can be a scary name for a skin allergy. Over time, this will turn into an infection in the affected area. You can help your dog best by knowing these basics.

Dog skin allergy

Flea Allergies

Possibly the biggest cause of allergic reactions in the canine species is FAD or flea allergies. FAD happens when the immune system is overly sensitive to the saliva from a parasite.

What? My Dog Doesn't Have Fleas!

Probably not, if you use preventative care. But that doesn't mean they can't have bites.

Meds keep fleas from being able to live on your dog, but they can still bite. One nibble on the foot of your dog can kill the bug, but the damage was already done. Your dog doesn't have to lick the bite on its toes to get the allergen.

What Causes FAD?

A feeding parasite leaves its spit behind. The saliva it injects has antigens and proteins in it. If your dog is sensitive to these, they will start to lick or begin scratching like they have an infestation.

Most dogs develop this sensitivity between the ages of two and five, but not always. When Fido starts to lick his feet out of nowhere or shows other symptoms, he may have an irritation to new allergens.

Treating FAD

Your vet is the best person to determine if the scratching problem is due to FAD or other skin inflammation causes. There are clinical markers that they'll know to look for and allergy tests or blood tests that can check for allergies.

FAD is treatable with oral or topical parasite preventatives and corticosteroids if the itching is really irritating. These steroids provide short-term relief and can also be combined with antihistamines for inflammation reduction. If the itching caused a secondary bacterial skin infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Before you treat for a parasite allergen, make sure it isn't seasonal allergies. A non-stressful fix like boots for your pup's toes and feet could be all you need, and you can avoid secondary medications.

Treating Other Skin Conditions

Itching isn't the only symptom of skin conditions. A canine will often display its body's unhappiness through digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting. Chronic infections in the ears and runny and itchy eyes are other visual cues.

Canines who are genetically predisposed to allergies often have irritated skin. Over time, they've developed an irritant to allergens like yeast. To find out what is causing the problem, your veterinarian will work with you to weed out common allergens, such as yeast, until you find the root of the issue.

Treating Dog

At that point, the treatment could be as simple as avoiding the irritant, cleaning their feet, something more strict. Your dog may benefit from diet adjustments, supplements, and allergy medications, for instance.

Beware of Acute Allergic Reactions

Occasionally, an allergic response is so severe, it can cause anaphylactic shock. As with humans, this can be deadly if it's not treated quickly.

It can be something in the environment, like a bee sting on the feet, or it could be a specific food or a vaccine. Any time you introduce something new to your pet, it's crucial to keep an eye on them to watch for signs of allergies.

Hives and swelling in the face and under the flaps of the ears are common but aren't usually fatal. Get your dog to the vet for an antihistamine if you're concerned. As soon as they're given the treatment, they'll have instant relief from the itch.

When in Doubt, Call Your Vet

Veterinary care doesn't have to be a last-second thing, especially with allergies. Letting them go too long can cause further damage to your dog's body beyond the itchy paws or ears.

A lot of scratching, foot chewing, or foot licking means they could be hypersensitive to something. Clean their paws thoroughly, brush and wash their fur, and monitor their behavior.

It may be seasonal allergies or related to foods, but it's still a problem. If it doesn't go away, a veterinary visit for your dog is in order. With a quick exam and simple testing, your pet can get rid of the inflammation and back to its loving self fast!