One of the most common search terms used to find my blog is something along the lines of “bulldog itchy red paws.” Nine times out of 10 it directs them to this post. It’s (thankfully) been a very long time since I’ve had to write about paw problems but I thought I’d do a follow-up post of what’s worked for us for those dog owners – bulldog or otherwise – who are struggling with red, itchy paws.
A lovely shade of red/maroon
For most of her puppyhood and into her second year of life, Lucy literally ate her paws. She was constantly gnawing on them, licking them, etc. And they turned into the lovely picture above; they were dark red and even her toenails were starting to turn red from her saliva (the vet told me that was a common reaction).
I tried all the home remedies I could; I switched food, gave her only filtered water, wiped down her feet every time we came in. I even tried apple cider vinegar spray as that was said to kill the bacteria in her paws. I tried the bitter apple spray meant to keep dogs from chewing on objects they shouldn’t; in this case the object just happened to be her paws.
Absolutely nothing worked.
Embarrassed by her red paws.
The first time we went to the vet for this specific problem, they gave me anti-fungal wash and steroids to quickly get the itching under control. And it worked…until the steroid dosage ran out and Lucy was right back to where she started – eating her feet and making a mess of our couch in the process, I might.
Back to the vet we went because I couldn’t take her constant licking and gnawing anymore.
The solution we landed on was one I’d been really, really hoping to avoid: allergy meds in the form of Zyrtec. We were also instructed to give her a high dose of fish oil, which I was definitely comfortable with.
So now Lucy gets 10mg of Zyrtec twice a day. Sometimes in the winter I’ll wean her to one and sometimes even none but the minute her symptoms reoccur, she’s right back on the meds.
This was not the route I wanted to go; I didn’t want Lucy on chemicals for the majority of the year. However, my vet said something that really struck home. My vet is highly allergic to dogs and cats…and yet she’s a vet? She takes daily allergy meds because she said that there was something on the market that was safe and could allow her to do what she wants, why wouldn’t she take it? In the case of Lucy, if there was a vet-approved medicine that would alleviate Lucy’s itchies, why wouldn’t I give it to her?
“Yeah, why not?”
So today we stick with quality food, fish oil and Zyrtec to keep Lucy itch free.
Hopefully this is helpful for other owners struggling with itchy doggies!