I can only share my recent experience with you. We live in South Florida and both our dogs were scratching and biting themselves, including their feet. I took them to the vet, fearing mange because I'd never seen mange first hand and didn't want it to get worse.
I told my vet the symptoms, first question he asked "are they biting their feet?" The answer was yes; and he told me that's not mange, it's Atopy (=inhaled allergies). He did a skin scrape just to be sure, but reassured me that if a dog bites their feet it most often points to Atopy because Florida is FULL of allergens. Next question was what type of grass do we have? Well, we have St Augustine; as it turns out that and Bermuda grass are highly allergenic to dogs.
The vet gave them a shot, then some prednisone and a salve for GSDs ears. I didn't like the prednisone because steroids suppress the immune system, but at the time our dogs needed some serious relief, and it did help. The Benadryl I was giving wasn't enough; for fear of overdosing, I gave one 25mg cap. Turns out I underdosed; my vet instructed me to dose at 1mg per pound, so with 1 dog at 58lbs, and the other at 65lbs, I could safely give two 25mg cap up to 3 times a day. He also recommended that I limit their time outdoors, yeah -like they'll accept that, and wash their feet before coming inside.
I've learned a few home remedies from a few threads here, you can search
osts by calliecritturs, she's into homeopathy and offers some terrific remedies. First, I made sure I still have benadryl on hand, but the biggest helpers were black tea, coal tar shampoo, and tea tree oil. I mixed some tea tree oil into a bucket of water - 2 med/large dogs I used a 5 gallon bucket & put in 1 ounce of the oil. Then I bathed the dogs with the coal tar shampoo in warm water and rinsed them clean, followed with a final rinse of the tea tree oil solution.
I steep 2 bags of the black tea in the morning when I make my tea, and dilute it to about 2 quarts. I keep this in the garage and rinse my dogs feet before they enter the house. I found it easiest to use a quart size Chinese soup container and simply dip their feet in the tea. Also, I prepared a quart sized spray bottle with water and about 30 drops of tea tree oil. I spray the dogs, wipe them down, then brush them; actually I do this before
the foot rinse. Once I brush them, their mitts get sprayed with the tea tree oil spray and rinsed.
I found that this has helped and our dogs have off the prednisone for quite a while, and I want to keep them off of it. It has its place, but it's not for everything. I home cook their dinners, so I've been adding quite a bit more sweet potatoes, and started adding kale, to help boost their immune systems. I use local Wildflower Honey
(my farmer's market carries it)
to control my own allergies. It hasn't completely suppressed them, but has help immensely, so I decided to try it with our dogs. I give them a heaping tablespoon of plain yogurt every night with fish oil and add 1/2 teaspoon of the local honey to it. It's funny, they sit in the kitchen drooling as I prepare it for them. [
] Good luck!
Oops, never mind, nothing to edit.