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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33273
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 4 year old ***** ***** cross has very hairy feet, and at

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My 4 year old ***** ***** cross has very hairy feet, and at the moment is continuously licking the pads on her front paws. I can see no redness or change to the skin. What could the problem be?
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I have to assume that Mylee's feet are pruritic (itchy) and atopy is the most common cause of pruritic feet in a ***** ***** (or JR mix). Atopy describes allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc. We usually address atopy with a short course of a glucocorticosteroid such as prednisone although the new cytokine antagonist oclacitinib (Apoquel) is likely to revolutionize how we address atopy. Unfortunately, that drug is currently available due to its high demand.

Food intolerance can mimic the symptoms of atopy and should be considered in Mylee as well. Food intolerance/allergy is addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that Mylee's immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from her vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (my preference). A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.

Finally, an interdigital pyoderma - a staph infection, usually - may have arisen secondary to Mylee's constant licking and wetting between her toes. Her vet will need to carefully examine the interdigital spaces for evidence of infection. This is usually addressed with both topical antibiotic/steroid combinations and systemic antibiotics.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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