Our vet took biopsies, scrapings for mites and yeast, blood tests for thyroid levels - she genuinely tried everything and in the end came up with allergies because of all the rain we've had. We changed foods, tried medicated shampoos, antibiotics, and various steroids, which didn't work.
After $1500, we found the only effective treatment was an injectable, time-released steroid called depo medrol. I know steroids can cause extreme side effects, including hallucinations and kidney failure but this finally helped when nothing else would. Our dog was chewing her own skin off it was itching so much, and bleeding on our carpet and furniture. We came to the conclusion that sometimes, if used with extreme caution and only as a last resort, steroids can be helpful.
Do your own research and don't just blindly follow what the vet says. Ultimately you have to choose what is best for your dog.
I don't know what you tried, but we tried everything and went to three vets and tried every salve at the petstore - all they did was make her lick more. Benadryl didn't help, cortizone and prednizone made her poop blood. We found a salve called dermapaw that worked almost the first night we used it. It comes with socks that are held on with elastic so they don't come off and keep your dog from chewing her feet. Here's a picture of her feet when they were pretty bad. Now they are almost completely better.
My doctor won't give salve to animals because he says animals will just lick it off-- he always puts them on oral antibiotics, and so far it has always worked. However, I haven't had to keep them on the antibiotics for a long time, so maybe yours is an entirely different situation.
Hope your doggy feels better soon.
Our Shar-pei would break out during the summer time between his toes, it was pus-filled boils and only on his feet. We had the surgery done on him that one vet said he needed to get rid of the pods that was growing under his shin. Well the next summer came and he broke out again. Took him to a different vet and turned out he had allergies. He had to be on Predozone and antibiotics. Of course that vet didn't tell us that eventually the Predizone would kill him. So good luck to you, and your precious dog. Just be careful, and ask lots of questions.
Try Bag Balm I think that is how you spell it. You can find it at feed stores or in a pharmacy. It can also be used on people.
Both responses had excellent suggestions.
Can you post a pic?
I'd also take a look at where you normally walk your dog and the ground type. Do you do thru a lot of wetland, boggy areas or places frequented by lots of other dogs? While narrowing this down; you may want to look at the possibility of something the dog is routinely exposed to...on walks, at home, at a groomer's, etc.
If you're washing the dog (and that's great), make sure you use a gentle shampoo specifically for dogs and rinse thoroughly. Human shampoos have the wrong ph balance for dogs and your problem could be brought on by something as simple as irritation of the skin cased by too harsh shampoos that aren't properly rinsed and have pooled and dried a bit by the toes. Then infection set in on the irritated skin.
Look at the toes yourself and try keeping a record of what makes things better or worse and when. Good observation and some research on your own could yield more than your vet is doing now.
Also, if your vet is just giving a quick script for antibiotics they sell in their practice and doesn't seem to be really THOROUGHLY investigating the problem; I'd change vets.
Be cautious about just asking the same vet to do more to diagnose the problem. A good vet should have already given you ideas on what to do that will help the dog at home and what to watch for. Asking the same vet for more tests is likely to just get you a bigger bill and no answers.
A really good vet would have given you the antibiotics on the first visit, explained what they thought the problem was and given you info on how to care for the dog to help prevent the problem. They'd also have given you an idea of what tests might be useful if they problem persists and how much they cost. Your vet did none of that so I'd find a new one.
And be prepared to tell the new vet exactly what the old one gave the dog and how it affected your dog and what you've done that hasn't helped or has even made the problem worse. You don't want to prolong the dog's suffering and double your bills by having one vet repeat another's efforts, no matter how small they were.
What was the vet's diagnosis?
Are they sores or cysts?
Some dogs are prone to "interstitial cysts" between their toes. They are pus-filled "balls" that will eventually rupture, but they are evidently painful.
Ask your vet what the cause of the "sores" are, and if you can help by modifying diet, adding a particular supplement, etc.
Ask your vet if you can soak your dog's feet in a warm Epsom salt solution. If so, the vet will tell you how much salt to add to the water and how frequently you can soak the feet.
Ask your vet if a medicated shampoo, allowed to soak on the feet for a few minutes, would help.
A phone call to your vet is free -- please call them and ask exactly what the sores are. Hopefully we can be of more help if we are armed with the actual diagnosis.
Has your vet did a skin scrape? Sometimes Demodex will be a cause of recurring toe infections. How long has she been on antibiotics continuously? I would make sure she is on something about 4 weeks, like cephalexin or ciprofloxacin. If it only works for a little while then there can be some underlying cause, such as allergies, immune-mediated disease, endocrine/thyroid disease. You might need a biopsy, culture, and blood workup. Just let your vet know that you want to do something more to diagnose why your dog keeps getting these wounds. Maybe they refer you to a dermatologist if all else fails.
As far as any other cures....you can try soaking the feet in epsom salt solution with warm water daily for a couple weeks. You can do this in a tub depending on your dog's size. It will help dry out a lot of infections. If you do want your vet to culture, you want to have no treatments for at least a week so you will get better results with the culture.
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