Sporting Shooter’s vet Vicky Payne answers a reader’s question about his gundog’s foot problems

Question: I have a very good black cocker dog but have not been able to work him since the end of October last year, because he has a problem with one foot. Between his pads is continuously sore; it is always wet and slightly infected, but not angrily so.

On grass he is fine but on gravel or in the woods he keeps catching it and it becomes sore again. I’ve tried three different creams and antibiotics but still no success. Is there anything else that you would advise to try?

He also has a problem with ear wax. I clean his ears with warm soapy water but the wax still builds up. Could you advise anything else? I have been told that a little vinegar in warm water is a good idea. What would you recommend and how should I get the wax out of his ears?

P.s. his feet and his ears are very hairy!

Vicky Payne replies: First, improve air circulation and reduce the humidity of both his ears and feet by having them trimmed. You can leave the outer ear flap but have the underside and around the ear opening free from hair. This also reduces the risk of grass seeds. Sore feet and waxy ears are symptoms of mild allergic skin disease, so I would discuss this with your vet. Treatments include a hypoallergenic diet, oil supplements and drugs to control the allergy or injections to desensitise him.

Clean his ears with a cleaner designed for dogs rather than homemade preparations. These can be squirted right into the ear canal, dissolve the wax and then evaporate, leaving a healthy skin surface. Some alter the pH in the ear and can control infections; again, your vet can advise.