8 Common Dog Paw Problems

closeup of dog paws

Allergies, infections, wounds and abrasions, nail problems, cysts, and broken paw pads can all cause paw problems in dogs. Paw pads insulate a dog's feet, give traction, assist with balance, slowing down, and stopping, and function as shock absorbers for the bones and joints in the dog's feet and legs. They have various issues, despite the fact that they are sturdy and meant to handle a lot of exercise and wear. It is critical to inspect your dog's paws on a regular basis for any problems, be able to recognize when a problem exists, and take actions to keep them healthy and protected.

Signs of Paw Pad Issues and Injuries in Dogs

Symptoms of Paw Issues

  • Licking and chewing the affected paw(s)
  • Lameness or limping
  • Red and inflamed paws
  • Lesions and discharge
  • Hair loss
  • Ulcers with scabbing and blisters
  • Cuts, abrasions, and tears
  • Cracked and torn nails
  • Dry/cracked pads
  • Loose flaps of skin on paw pads
  • Refusal to walk or bear weight on paw(s)
  • Cysts and growths
  • Bleeding
  • Foul smell coming from paw

Causes of Paw Pad Issues and Injuries in Dogs

Allergies

Allergies affect dogs in the same way they affect humans. Allergy-prone pets are itchy, especially in the paws, and will bite, lick, or chew them to ease the irritation. They are also more prone to get persistent ear, skin, and anal gland infections. Excessive licking can cause discomfort or harm to the paw, as well as render it more vulnerable to secondary fungal and bacterial infections. A veterinarian should examine pets who lick their paws excessively for allergies.

Fungal and Bacterial Infections

Many different bacteria and fungus thrive on your pet's paw pads in their natural state, but these organisms can occasionally grow out of control and cause illness. In dogs, bacterial and fungal skin infections are widespread, and they frequently affect the paws.

Licking and chewing the paws are signs of an infection, as are redness, swelling, discomfort, itching, and discharge. Itching, redness, and oily discharge are common in the area between the toes and other skin creases. Brown darkening of the nails on occasion.

These infections might also be the result of an allergy. Your veterinarian is the best person to detect an illness in your pet and may prescribe a range of medications to cure it, including as topical creams, wipes, and washes.

Nail issues

  • Long Toenails: Long toenails are common and can have a lot of negative consequences for your dog. Long nails can make it more difficult for your dog to walk. When a dog’s nails contact hard ground, the hard surface pushes the nail back up into the nail bed creating pain for the dog, and this can put pressure on all the toe joints. Long nails also make it more likely for your dog to suffer from a fractured or torn nail.
  • Ingrown Nails: Nails that are not trimmed properly or naturally worn down by walking outside can become painful ingrown toenails.
  • Torn Nails: Torn or fractured nails occur when your dog catches their toenail on something. A common scenario is when a dog comes in from outside suddenly limping, and sometimes bleeding, and upon closer inspection, an injured nail is seen. Torn and fractured nails can be very painful and commonly bleed, so it is best treated by a .
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Burns and Blisters

If it's too hot for you to walk outside barefoot, your dogs will be too! Before allowing your dog to walk on the pavement, always feel it with your bare hand. It's too hot for your dog's paws if you can't comfortably press your hand to the asphalt for 10 seconds or longer.

Unfortunately, dogs may and do get burns on their paw pads when they step on hot surfaces. Swollen, red, or blistering paw pads are signs of burns. Burns to the paws are a significant medical problem that need immediate medical treatment from a veterinarian.

Dry and Cracked Paw Pads

The paw pads of pets are designed to be a little rough so that they can acquire grip on smooth surfaces. Dry, cracked paw pads can be caused by a multitude of circumstances, including hot pavement, cold weather, chemicals, dry air, rough surfaces, and excessive licking. Dry, cracked paws are distressing for your cat and can lead to illness.

Cuts and Abrasions

Because dogs run and play on a variety of terrains, cuts, abrasions, and lacerations can happen at any moment. When walking your dogs, keep an eye out for dangerous items on the ground and make sure your dogs are properly protected when running on rough or uneven terrain or on the tarmac. Foreign items such as tiny pebbles, sticks, burrs, broken glass, and detritus can penetrate the skin when injuries occur.

Parasites

Ticks are known for lurking between a pet's toes, where they can cause a variety of issues, including infection and suffering. It is recommended to get the tick removed by a veterinary medical practitioner. If you can't get to the vet, grab the tick by the head with tweezers or professional tick removal equipment and gently take it out. To be removed successfully, the head must disengage from the body.

Pets may also suffer from mite infestations in the paws, which can cause scaling, hair loss, and swelling. Your veterinarian will need to perform testing to diagnose and treat mites.

Cysts and Growths

Cysts, lumps, and growths are prevalent on your dog's paws and between his toes. If you see one, contact your veterinarian so they can treat and remove it if required.

Dog Paw Care and Prevention

Give Your Dog Pedicures

When your dog's nails grow long enough to touch the ground when he walks, you should clip them. The frequency with which you should cut your dog's nails is highly dependent on the breed; certain breeds may not require much trimming at all.

For both you and your dog, nail clipping should be a relaxing and stress-free experience. It may be easier to cut your dog's nails if you teach him or her to accept having their feet touched. You may also use a scratchboard to teach your dog to file their own nails. When your dog shows indications of worry or terror, avoid holding them down or clipping their nails since they remember, just like people, and this will make it more difficult or impossible in the future. There are many excellent resources available to assist you and your dog in making nail clipping less unpleasant.

Consider Weather Conditions

It's crucial to avoid walking your dog on scorching concrete or sand throughout the summer. Rock salt and chemical ice melts can injure your dog's paws and be swallowed by your dog when it licks its paws in the winter. Avoid these situations by washing your dog's paws with warm water after walks to remove chemicals and salt. Use a moisturizer to keep your paws from becoming dry and damaged. Do not use human lotions or moisturizers on your dog; instead, ask your veterinarian for a canine moisturizer.

Do Paw Checks

It's critical to conduct paw checks after playing outside or engaging in intense activities, as this is when injuries are most prone to occur. It's also the most probable time for your dog to acquire something trapped in his pad or between his toes. Examine the area for any debris and keep an eye out for injuries or scorching.

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Apply First Aid

For small injuries, a dog first aid kit is essential. If you detect a minor scratch or blister on your dog's foot, clean it with warm water and mild soap. If the paw is bleeding continuously, consider bandaging it, but be careful not to overbandage it or retain moisture for too long. To avoid additional injury, you may wish to use a dog boot. Keep an eye on your dog and contact your veterinarian if you see anything unusual.

CITATION

"Miao, Huaibin et al. How Does The Canine Paw Pad Attenuate Ground Impacts? A Multi-Layer Cushion SystemBiology Open, vol 6, no. 12, 2017, pp. 1889-1896. The Company Of Biologists, doi:10.1242/bio.024828", "Bajwa, Jangi. Canine PododermatitisThe Canadian Veterinary Journal, vol. 57,9 (2016): 991-3", "Routine Grooming Promotes Good Health In PetsCanadian Veterinarians, 2020", "Tick RemovalCenters For Disease Control And Prevention, 2020" ;

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