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We adopted our dog from a rescue centre just over a year ago and love him to bits. He is approximately 4 to 5 years old and his breed is unknown (the vets do not know either). He is a cross breed between a staffordshire and something else – everyone has an opinion on what the something else is! We noticed after walking him one day that he was limping a fair bit and after inspecting his paws found the skin the bottom of his front paws had broken out, completely red raw. The right front paw is by far the worse. The pads on both front paws are fine - it is the skin between his toes/claws and the skin on the sole of his paws that are the problem. He hates you going near his paws but over time he has got better at letting us check them.
At a similar time his skin also broke out with a lot of sores/spots which led us to believe he may be allergic to something. The vets put this down to grass seeds as it was that time of year however we put it down to him being allergic to meat, specifically beef.
The vets we take him prescribed medication that has helped with his skin, he only has a minor amount of skin damage (gaps in fur showing red skin, almost like an irritant of some sort) around his neck where his collar is. The main problem is his paws and the vets are struggling to identify the problem. There current theory is he is allergic, be it environmental, food, etc, to something but without taking the allergy tests they are unable to say what. To date we/the vets have tried:
Covering his paws in bandages – that was an ordeal!
Taking biopsy’s of his skin, including the infected area of his paws to test if it was mites, a skin condition or some sort of immune system problem. The vets had the theory that our dogs body was unable to repair the damage around his paws. After the tests came back any immune system problems were quickly dispelled.
Various types of medication and painkillers. Currently he is on a low dose of steroids and tramadol. We only give him tramadol very rarely as a last resort. Clearly we do not want him on steroids for the rest of his live as not only can they effect his liver they also make him at times a little aggressive – when he was on a stronger dose he got more aggressive.
We bath him and his paws regularly with special shampoo to keep the infected areas clean. He hates this. The water must really sting on his paws.
If we see him licking his paws we tell him not too – again we cannot watch him 24/7.
We have bought him boots but he hated these and would pull them off. We have since bought him some better quality ones and now he trusts us more with touching his paws we intend to persevere with this.
We currently have him on an elimination diet. He has been on a dry food diet – James Wellbeloved turkey and vegetable kibble. This is supposed to be the best for him as it has no cereals and it claims to be great for dogs with skin and digestive sensitivities. He has been on this for a few months now

He is a very well natured dog who loves his walks but it is clear he has been mistreated as it takes time for him to trust people. He is clever and knows his limitations with his paws – he jumps over puddles, walks on grass where he can and if a pavement/road is cracked or bumpy he will, where he can, walk on the smooth parts. We have to limit his walks, if we take him somewhere new we have to check the terrain is suitable for him, he loves to play but we have to make sure he does not get too lively for fear of hurting his paws. We do not take him on long walks, 3 short walks a day. We know his paws are bad when he does not get excited about going for a walk. Thankfully this does not happen anymore but it did in the early days.

His paws are okay at the moment. The skins just at the bottom of his paw never seems to fully heal. It tends to go all white like it is beginning to heal but then a crack will appear. It is just such a sensitive area.

We are now considering taking him to another vet for a second opinion or having the allergy tests done. We have read similar stories of dogs with paw problems but they all seem to be either paw pad problems or the dog has injured the paw somehow. Again just to stress his pads are fine.

Apologies I have gone into a lot of detail.
If anyone has seen this type of problem before or can give us any advice it would be greatly appreciated. We really want to get the bottom of his paw problem and are fully aware it can take time but we want the best for him.
Thanks
 

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Would he wear boots for walks? Sounds crazy in the summer, but it might limit the unknown substances from getting to his feet and help protect them. I would see if you can find some bag balm and apply that to his feet a few times a day, it's greasy so best done then crate him with a bone.

For food, if you can find or feed raw, I would do that. The food you mentioned has 'linseed' in it, which is flax, a well known allergen and a grain. As well as alfalfa, another grain. Not sure what 'turkey gravy' is but in north America it's usually a flour(wheat) based sauce, more grain. My friend tried a flax based supplement on her dog, within two weeks her feet were a mess, she'd chewed them up big time. She's back on just the raw diet, no grains or veggies, just raw ground whole animal patties mostly, and non-grain supplements. There are lots of foods that say they are great for skin and coat (really, not many would say 'can cause itching and hair loss!), but I would suggest finding a raw diet or making your own, and limiting it to 2-3 types of meat only for a while and see if that helps, if no different in 3 months, then try a different meat and just that and see. Same friend sells raw and helps people in the same situation with food, with one cat it was only elk that he could handle, for some dogs with a poultry issue they can't even have emu or ostrich!

And we need pictures! Please!
 

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Would he wear boots for walks? Sounds crazy in the summer, but it might limit the unknown substances from getting to his feet and help protect them. I would see if you can find some bag balm and apply that to his feet a few times a day, it's greasy so best done then crate him with a bone.
I was going to mention the bagbalm and here in Alaska they have dog booties I know you can order online. The sled dogs wear them to protect thier feet.
 

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A friend of mine has a rescue BC who has paw pad issues. After much testing and painful flare-ups the vet decided that the dog could not process zinc properly. She now gets extra zinc in her diet, along with medication. It seems to be helping.

A shorter term fix is "new skin", aka "liquid bandage". Look for it at drug stores. It's sort of like clear nail polish, but you put it on cuts and scrapes where a bandaid is impractical.
 
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