Dear Dr. Audrey,
My dog (a three-year-old, mixed breed female) has started chewing on her feet. I have checked her feet carefully and find nothing. Someone told me that can be a sign of allergies.
Should I think about changing her diet? She has no digestive problems or anything else that I’ve seen.
Chewing the feet is often a sign of allergies. There are a few allergies that can cause this.
The first is a contact allergy, where she is walking on something that is irritating her.
The next is atopy, an allergy to dusts and pollens in the environment, a bit like hay fever in us. These dogs chew their feet, but they often sneeze and have runny eyes and itchy ears.
Lastly, it can be caused by food allergies. Often food allergies don’t cause an upset stomach, but instead cause itchy skin, ears and feet.
The other interesting thing about food allergies is that dogs become allergic to an ingredient they’ve been eating for several years.
If you suspect a food allergy and want to change your girl’s diet, you need to feed her something she has never had before, because she won’t be allergic to it. This often means avoiding most commercial dog foods as they often contain the same ingredients like wheat, beef or corn.
Here’s the tricky part – when you start her new diet, that food is the only thing that crosses her lips for 8 weeks.
No treats, no dinner leftovers, nothing.
If she leaves her feet alone while on her new menu, then there may be a food allergy involved in her symptoms.
Before you go to all this effort, it would be worth having her examined by your vet, to make sure you’re on the right track.
The purpose of this column is to educate. DogTipper shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this site. This column does not replace the importance of specific advice from your own veterinarian. If you have any concerns at all about your dog’s health, please make an appointment with your vet.