Dog Paw Problems and What Pet Owners Can Do

A white pug looks sad about his dog paw problems.

Your pet’s paws are precious. Something about those sweet little feet can melt just about any heart. When there is something wrong with them, though, it can be absolutely anxiety-inducing for both you and your dog.

Dog paw problems are not uncommon, but at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital of Brooklyn we have the expertise and knowledge to get your pet back on their feet. 

Common Dog Paw Problems

Dog paw problems are something that our veterinarians see and diagnose often. They can range from no big deal to quite serious, and it takes an expert mind to distinguish the difference at times.

Some of the more common foot-focused problems that we treat include:

  • Traumatic injuries—Cuts, scrapes, and other abrasions are a common occurrence. Lacerations, particularly of the paw pads, often need surgical repair. Dogs are also prone to breaking or tearing off toenails, which can be painful and quite bloody. 
  • Allergic skin disease—Allergic reactions to environmental allergens like pollens and grasses or food allergies can result in red, itchy, and swollen paws. 
  • Bacterial and yeast infections —The overgrowth of normal skin flora is common, especially when something like an allergy has upset the skin’s balance. These types of infections can be itchy and uncomfortable. 
  • Dermatophytosis—Fungal disease like ringworm is also known to affect the paws. 
  • Skin mites—Skin loving mites, also called mange, can affect the paws, particularly in young, old, or immunocompromised patients. 
  • Auto-immune disease—Some auto-immune diseases such as pemphigus foliaceus or lupoid onychodystrophy can cause changes to the paws or nails. 
  • Cancer and other growths—The feet are not immune from things like cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma and other neoplasms can occur, but so can more benign growths like follicular cysts.
  • Liver disease—Severe liver disease can result in hepatocutaneous syndrome, which often greatly affects the paw pads.

Often paw problems in pets require additional diagnostic testing to determine an accurate diagnosis. This helps us to follow the best treatment course possible. 

What’s a Pet Owner To Do?

While not all dog paw problems are preventable, there are definitely things that a proactive pet owner can do to help support foot health.

Do right by your pet’s paws by:

  • Paying attention to them so that you know right away if something is different/wrong
  • Contacting us as soon as changes are noted
  • Keeping up on your pet’s wellness visits so that we can help prevent problems
  • Provide regular grooming to keep nails trimmed short to prevent breaks
  • Keeping long hair between the toes groomed to prevent slipping and irritation from any moisture or allergens that become trapped
  • Avoiding walking your pet on hot or irritating surfaces like asphalt, road salt, or gravel

If your pet is diagnosed with a paw problem, the treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. Oftentimes medication to help control itching or infection is prescribed. Topical treatment is sometimes indicated, and in the case of systemic disease certain medications, supplements, or acupuncture may be prescribed. 

Your pet’s paws are important, and we want to help you keep them in good shape. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you think something might be wrong. You know your pet best, and your intuition is valuable.