Have you tried Benadryl for when the itching gets really bad? I think they say use only one protein source and maybe stay away from food with corn if you're not. Wipe paws if the allergy is from outside. Sorry, I guess I'm pretty lucky with mine...
We give Lainie half a Benadryl pill wrapped up in cheese for her itchies. She does better when she's had a dose, but she still does that awkward sit'n'spin thing since she can't reach her tail. We've ruled out food allergies because we fed her raw for the majority of her life(ie: nothing but meat), and never saw an improvement. Of course, the vet would rather we pay her the big bucks to do the same thing under her "supervision" with her "special diet food" and then pay more for a skin test.
I'd rather just give her some Benadryl and call it a day.
Max has seasonal allergies...pretty much the same time as I do. He gets runny eyes and an itchy belly. By mid August...my worst time...he is on 2 Benadryl a day till the first frost. Because it affects his eyes it hits the whole nose/ear thing too. Last year he had a horrible ear infection the pollen was bad. He is fed grain free kibble and the majority of his treats are carrots.
Could it be a situation of extremely dry skin? I ask because in the winter Max has a bad problem with that. He gets raw and itchy under his front legs and lower belly. I give him fish oil supplements for that.
This will be long, but maybe it will help you (or someone else searching after you).
I went the call-the-dermatologist route, mostly because of prior experience with my bosses' dog. My bosses spent 3 years dealing with undiagnosed allergies in their labradoodle....which manifested as a lot of itching misery and recurring skin infections (resistant staph). It was a very expensive 3 years for them, both in $ and in misery.
So when Mishka got itchy I decided to go straight to the allergist and get it figured out as quickly as possible. Our vet (same vet as my bosses) said, let's do the prescription food trial the allergist would have you do, and if that doesn't help, we'll hook you up with the dermatologist for the allergy panel.
Very expensive, but we did manage to skip the 3 years of misery and complications. 18 months of allergy shots later, (3 months into allergy season) he's almost itch-free. No more black crusty spots, brown oxidized gunk stuck in his pores, or red raw paws, and all his foot fur has grown back. I don't even have to cone him at night. So, while it was an expensive solution, we got results and relief pretty quickly.
Our management regimen:
In addition, the dermatologist has had us stay on the prescription food so that we can isolate cause vs. treatment - because he's on the food, we know the allergy shots are actually working for the atopy. If he is allergic to both and we had put him back on normal food, the shots could be working but we wouldn't *know* they were working. Now we know the shots are working for the atopy, so when we start introducing regular food again we will know whether food is an issue, and if it is we can isolate which foods.
Other stuff I've tried:
So, not necessarily the answer for everyone, but in Mishka's case it worked out well.