It's not an environmental allergy...we have lived in central IL, South Dakota, Virginia, and now SoCal and he has had the same problems.
There is no way to rule out environmental allergy without doing allergy testing. The same allergens can persist in all of those environments (pollen, dust, mold etc.) Have you tried him on any steriods or antihistamines? Long acting Depo-Medrol shots?
" I firmly believe it is OCD and has escalated to the granuloma stage because of stress from DH being gone for an extended period of time and me being gone for four days. He does not have mange, fleas, or ticks. "
Even one Demodex mite or flea can cause severe skin reactions. This is something else you need to rule out via veterinary diagnostic testing.
"He has been on food from Purina O.N.E. to grain-free Blue with no different results other than price tag. They are currently on Nutro Lamb & Rice because its the only food that makes a difference in our GSD's dry skin. He is a good, healthy weight and gets exercise."
None of these foods are novel protein or hydrolyzed protein, which are the only foods you can put dogs on to rule out food allergy/intolerance. Even the "grain-free" OTC foods do not have the strict ingredient regulation that prescription hypoallergic food has. It is recommended to try a novel protein/carb (I.e. Duck & Pea, Venison & Potato, Rabbit & Sweet potato) or hydrolyzed protein diet (Hill's ZD, Purina HA, Royal Canin has one also) for 8-12 weeks before determining that an animal does not have a food allergy/intolerance. Most of the time too, several diets are tried for an extended period of time before totally ruling out diet-responsive disease.
"I'll start with the Tea Tree Oil suggestion, then into doggie prozac. DH is deploying in January for several months, so I'm thinking that will be a big help in Dutch coping with him being gone for so long.[/QUOTE]"
This really sounds to me like he needs some systemic help from antihistamines or corticosteroids before trying something like prozac. I would strongly encourage you to seek help from your vet, who may refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.
I agree, you can't rule out allergies without testing. My old Bouvier constanly had skin issues/rashes/itching and we finally did allergy testing--she was allergic to pretty much every type of food you could imagine. Chicken, beef, rice, wheat, corn, all kinds of very common, everyday stuff that is found in most commercial dog food. We had to put her on a prescription feed (white fish and sweet potato, VERY few ingredients) and her issues cleared up very soon after.
I wonder if it could be an allergy to laundry soap, fabric softener, or some carpet spray? A lot of human allergies that cause itching, etc can come from any of those. People and animals can be very allergic to air fresheners also.
My SP will lick the top of his paws til they're raw if they get irritated--say after going to the groomer or if he gets an abrasion from playing. Doesn't matter which foot, same behavior. Once he starts on it, he won't stop unless I can keep him distracted and get the spot to heal up. I've had some success putting a sock over it and duct taping the sock on.
When I worked at the clinic, we saw quite a few dogs who just obsessively licked--especially when stressed. I'm with you in that it really does sound more like a behavioral thing. I don't really have any suggestions though other than keeping him active/tired during this transition and talking to your vet about options.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.