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Allergies: Licking, Chewing, Hair Loss, and Mouth Pain

Food allergies commonly cause dogs to lick and chew toe nails and feet.

This patient has severe toe thickening from many years of chewing his feet due to allergies to foods.

Long-standing allergies cause skin thickening and darkening, as seen in this dog's flanks.

This dog's skin shows thickening, darkening, and wrinkling due to severe allergies.  This often begins as licking the flanks, belly, feet or anus creating redness and irritation.  Over time, repetitive exposure to allergies causes skin to change, as seen here.  This can be greatly improved by controlling the allergies.

Pets can develop severe allergic problems. In some pets, exposure to certain foods, treats, bedding materials, and other common things in their environment make their life miserable.  


Many owners are unaware the problems their pet have may be related to ordinary and common things, such as foods or bedding, and do not recognize the symptoms, such as licking the feet or frequent ear infections.


During the thorough exam of your pet, your veterinarian may ask a number of detailed questions to help identify the source of your pet's symptoms in order to eliminate the problem completely.  


Medications can be useful to relieve symptoms and reduce discomfort, but it is equally important to attempt to eliminate the source of the irritation.  One comparison of this might be a person suffering from asthma who eliminates exposure to cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes and also uses an inhaler to relieve airway tightness.   


At Alpine Animal Clinic, our focus is to try to find solutions rather than trying to cover up problems.

Years of severe food allergies have caused this dog's ears to develop severe polyps, thickening and calcification ("cauliflower ear").  Surgery may help this patient open up his canals to reduce yeast overgrowth.


If your dog needs frequent ear cleaning and medication to keep them comfortable, something is wrong!


Your veterinarian should address the allergen source with you and help you get your dog's allergies under control with another approach before this deformation occurs.

Some Common Allergy Symptoms.  


Your pet might demonstrate only one of these and still be allergic.

  • Chewing or licking feet, toes, toenails

  • Ear redness, thickening, and pain

  • Ear infections with bacteria, yeast, or both

  • Rubbing on floor or furniture

  • Scratching or chewing areas of skin

  • Red, irritated, or crusted areas of skin

  • Hair loss, thinning, or dull, broken hair

  • Scooting or licking anus

  • Red bumps or hives

  • Watery or red, irritated eyes

  • Nasal discharge, sneezing

  • Reverse sneezing (snorking)

  • Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing

  • Asthma

  • Red mouth, red gums, tooth loss

  • Diarrhea and Flatulence

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Dental Disease, especially in CATS

This young cat has severe food allergies, seen as very red gums and rapid loss of gingival tissue, leading to severe dental disease.  She has very severe mouth pain that was unnoticed by her family, but demonstrated during her veterinary exam by gently touching her teeth and gums.  


Your Alpine Animal Clinic veterinarian will thoroughly examine your cat to ensure there are no signs of food allergies and dental disease.

Tooth loss from rapid gumline erosion is caused by food allergies in this young cat.

Patient Case Study of Food Allergies

This case is shared by permission and special request of this dog's owner. 

Hair loss and skin darkening around eyes and muzzle can be one symptom of food allergies.

You can see this dog suffers from intense itching that causes hair loss and skin darkening around his eyes, nose and mouth.

Severe food allergies caused this dog to lose hair, develop thick, dark abnormal skin.

Severe food allergies caused this dog to lose hair and develop thickened, irregular skin.

Shown here are photos of a 4 year-old Golden Retriever dog who had suffered from allergies for years.  Despite years of extensive treatment with 8 different prescription medications prescribed by another Helena veterinarian, he still itched and chewed all over and battled frequent ear infections.

His previous veterinarian prescribed medications including:

  • oral steroids

  • topical steroid creams

  • oral and topical antibiotics

  • oral and topical anti-fungals (anti-yeast medication)

  • several oral immune suppressing medications


In spite of all these medications, he STILL lost hair from all over his body, and chewed his hind end and feet raw.  Exasperated, his owner took him to Alpine Animal Clinic for another opinion.


Dr. Heidi Wampler took a careful history and identified several possible problems.  She suggested a specific dietary regimen and elimination of identified possible allergens.  


Dr. Wampler also recommend DISCONTINUING ALL prescribed medications, at least temporarily, for the duration of the food trial period.  


Just five weeks later and utilizing only the prescribed food source, this patient was comfortable for the first time in his life!  


As you can see by comparing the BEFORE and AFTER photos shown here, by eliminating allergens he had significant regrowth of hair and completely stopped chewing and rubbing his skin.  


Best of all, simply by eliminating food allergens, this dog was no longer on any ​​medications!

Check out his new hair growth around the eyes and muzzle!

Here is 5 weeks AFTER!

Hair loss and skin darkening around eyes and muzzle can be one symptom of food allergies.

Remember BEFORE?

In 5 weeks of no food allergies, this dog has greatly improved his skin, hair and comfort!  WOW!

Just 5 weeks AFTER!  WOW!

Severe food allergies caused this dog to lose hair, develop thick, dark abnormal skin.

BEFORE... Yikes!

This case is shared by this dog's owner's special request and permission.  

Thank you to them for helping other pets with food allergies.

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