Dear Daisy Dog: Octavian, my 8-year-old Jugg (Jack Russell/pug mix), licks his front paws so relentlessly that he doesn't have much fur left there. Could he have a nervous tic or obsessive-compulsive disorder? Is it just a bad habit? How do I get him to stop?

Daisy responds:
Octavian's licking could be behavioral, but it sounds more like he may have atopic dermatitis or a related type of allergic skin disease. Many breeds, including Jack Russell terriers, are predisposed to atopic dermatitis, which is caused by allergy to such environmental triggers as pollens, molds, grass and dust mites.

A dog with allergic skin disease has itchy paws, belly, armpits, anus and/or ears. Some have recurrent ear infections.

Fortunately, new treatments are available that are effective and safe.

One is an anti-allergy tablet called Apoquel, given twice daily for the first two weeks and, thereafter, once daily.

Another option is an injection called Cytopoint, administered at the animal hospital every four to eight weeks.

If Octavian's paw licking worsens after he plays in the grass or leaves, wash his paws when he comes indoors to remove the debris that may be causing the itchiness.

Make an appointment to have your veterinarian evaluate Octavian. Your vet will do tests to rule out - or identify - other causes of itchy paws, including mites, bacterial infection and overgrowth of yeast.

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Dear Christopher Cat: We just learned that our cat has diabetes. The veterinarian explained the disease, showed us how to inject insulin and described how to test blood sugar levels at home.

We feel overwhelmed and wonder if there's a good online resource to help us. We really just need to review everything she told us in bite-sized chunks of information.

Christopher responds: VeterinaryPartner.com is an outstanding resource for pet care information. You can trust the website's content, because it is written by animal doctors associated with the Veterinary Information Network, the world's largest online veterinary community.

At the top of the VeterinaryPartner.com home page, enter the term diabetes in the search box. Click on the first entry, Diabetes Mellitus Center. Read the overview on diabetes, and then click the links on the right to read related articles.

The Insulin Administration in Cats article contains helpful photos and videos. The articles on Monitoring Glucose Regulation and Home Testing of Blood Glucose for Diabetic Cats also offer instructional videos.

After you read the Veterinary Partner articles, you'll feel more confident talking with your veterinarian about your cat's care.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com.