Ask the vet: Our dog licks its paws raw

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Marianne Lomberg (BVSc Hons) is ’n veearts wat dit geniet om met mense oor hulle diere te gesels. Stuur jou vrae na

Marianne Lomberg (BVSc Hons) is a veterinarian who enjoys talking to people about their animals. Send your questions to

Marianne Lomberg (BVSc Hons) is een dierenarts die graag met mensen over hun dieren praat. Stuur je vragen naar


Nina writes:

Dear Dr Lomberg

Our dog continuously licks his paws. The areas between his toes are sometimes almost completely raw.

I apply Curatex, which gives only temporary relief until he licks it off. Our vet has prescribed prednisone, which, of course, has side effects and is not the best for our boy. Are you able to advise on any other topical cream? 

We reside in Namibia.

Kind regards



Dear Nina

Allergies can result in dogs showing behaviour that becomes almost obsessive sometimes. Dogs licking their paws until they are raw is often a sign of a high allergy threshold, caused by a number of factors.

The good news is that dogs are more tolerant of cortisone (prednisolone) as a short-term treatment than we humans are, but we don’t want to use it just to control the symptoms without understanding the true cause.

The things commonly contributing to a dog’s allergy threshold are allergies to food ingredients, allergies to grass and other things they touch, flea allergies and allergies to pollen and other things in the air.

Of these, allergies to airborne things, also called atopy, is by far the most common, but unfortunately it is hard to control the air!

So, a practical solution is to minimise the other causes of allergies, by trying a diet based on a new protein source or a hydrolysed protein source (your vet can help you with this), by adding fish oil to his diet and by washing his paws with warm water after he’s been outside. Even if you’re not eliminating every possible cause of his allergies, this approach can reduce his level of exposure and help him to be less itchy, less often.


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