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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17894
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I moved last May and my dogs paws became very inflamed and

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I moved last May and my dogs paws became very inflamed and sore. My vet did a scrape and it was clear but she prescribed isaderm which did little good. Her paws and underbelly are looking red and angry again ( they've been fine since September) so I'm assuming it's a pollen causing the problem. My vet refused to give any advice on antihistamines which may help and insists on another scrape and then more expensive isaderm cream. Can I give her benadryl? Last year was miserable for her and she spent months in boots which she hated, I want to avoid that if I can and give her some relief from the endless licking.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your Ruby is miserably itchy with the spring pollens. Allergies are the most common cause of itchy feet which many dogs find irritating. In many cases though once they start licking and chewing they develop secondary bacterial and yeast skin infections, and those too contribute just as much to the itchy feeling.Even if you don't see fleas I do recommend using protection, if only during the months without a hard frost. Flea bite allergy is the most common allergen and it only takes one bite a month to make an allergic dog itchy so I recommend using flea prevention even if you never see one again. Frontline Plus, Advantage II or Advantix are excellent. Don't use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents, as most are ineffective if not toxic. Unfortunately even after the fleas are gone the allergic reaction can continue for weeks and I will discuss controlling that reaction below. Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds). I do suspect that this is a big part of Ruby's trouble. You can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with the symptoms of inhaled and flea allergy. In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone. Since her symptoms worsen seasonally I would think that inhaled allergens are a part of her problem. You can try:1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with acetaminophen or decongestants as they can be toxic for dogs) at 2mg to 4mg per kilogram of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 7 to 15 kilograms of body weight orally every 8 hours. OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 10-12 kilograms of body weight once or twice daily. OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 2mg per kilogram of body weight orally every 8 hours. OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.OR 5) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at 1 mg per kilogram of body weight orally every 24 hours. That would be one 10mg tablet per 10 kilos of body weight. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because dogs cannot tolerate decongestants.Some dogs do better on one antihistamine rather than another. Give the one you pick a week trial and if it isn't working try another. Be aware antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some dogs. These side effects do wear off with repeated use.Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil products. 3V by DVM or Derm Caps ES are good brand name products. Use the high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give her 40mg of EPA per kilogram of body weight per day. For example an 8 kilogram dog could take 320mg of EPA per day. Cool water baths with an oatmeal shampoo or chlorhexiderm shampoo (which is antibacterial and antifungal) and a conditioner with an antihistamine may help. The water rinses off allergens and the cool temperature soothes itchy skin. Do not bathe your girl for 2 to 3 days before or after applying flea control products or the bath will interfere with the product's efficacy.Since her symptoms seem focused on her feet and underbelly wiping her paws and belly with a hypoallergenic baby or damp washcloth wipe to remove pollen traces when she comes in may be very helpful. Another option if the antihistamines and omega 3's aren't enough is a product called Atopica. It suppresses the immune system a bit so it decreases allergic symptoms but it doesn't have as many harmful side effects as systemic steroids.Another option is a newer drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an allergy. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so. Unfortunately it is on limited order now due to overwhelming demand, but it is something to keep in mind for the future if she continues to have trouble.If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products. Another option if you are interested, is trying immunotherapy. Your girl would need to be tested to determine exactly what she is allergic to, and then she is given small amounts of the allergen to build up her tolerance to it, increasing the amount of allergen in the injection incrementally so that her immune system no longer responds to it. This isn't a quick fix, it takes time to slowly build up their tolerance and as she develops new allergens things may need to be added, but it is an option. If it's been a while since her last exam parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes mites should be looked for by your veterinarian as well if he isn't improving as they can lead to very itchy skin. At the same time they can swab to look for evidence of a secondary yeast or bacterial infection and address those.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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