Does your dog lick his paws incessantly? One major cause of almost obsessional licking is yeast infection. I have just been through an episode of this, and I must admit I was slow to pick up on this cause. However, once I did hone in on it I lost no time and began to explore the resources available in our zoopharmacognosy toolbox.

The first step I took was to bathe the paws twice daily using tepid water in which I had dissolved borax, cider vinegar and neem. Lemon juice may be used instead of cider vinegar. After washing I dried the excess with a paper towel. These components help to counteract the propagation of the yeast spores which is essential if the primary cause of the discomfort is to be eliminated. I advise washing all four paws even though they may not all show signs of infestation.

Another ally in this is essential oil of mint: both peppermint and spearmint can be used. Peppermint is also a cooling oil so provides immediate relief from the itchiness. Other oils which may prove useful are tea tree or kunzea.

If the pads of the paws, or the areas between them, are inflamed, red and raw, and sometimes even with puss, which is more than likely, then one of our cooling blue oils should be offered. Oils such as German Chamomile or Yarrow will work wonders cooling down the inflamed areas which will give the dog great relief. That in itself is very important because if the dog feels comfortable he will not be drawn to lick and scratch and so the healing process can proceed more swiftly.

Sometimes green or white clay may be useful too as they will neutralise infection and bacteria as well as drying out the area. White clay is more indicated for animals with sensitive skin.

The final stage called for aloe vera gel which I used to help the skin heal. At this point I found that the dog also wanted to ingest calendula macerated oil which is one of the top oils for skin healing, It may also be applied topically. Another ally at this stage is lavender essential oil which is also excellent for repairing the skin.

Yeast infection is an insidious complaint which makes for discomfort and sometimes irresistible itch which can mean that the animal does not sleep well (and neither do you as you will be tuned in to his licking). In some animals irritability may also follow which may lead to unpredictable and more reactive behaviour However, I found that following this regime was very effective. However, persistence is the key!