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Pododermatitis Dog Paw Inflammation Guide

vet holding dog paw in hand

Your dog’s paws serve many essential purposes, allowing them to walk and run, offering protection from rough surfaces, aiding in temperature control, etc. However, when your dog is outdoors, its paws are constantly exposed to different terrains and harsh elements. As a result, paw inflammation and injuries happen, so regular paw care is essential.


Pododermatitis is one of the biggest concerns for your pup’s feet, causing irritation, discomfort, and sometimes pain. It can be caused by various things, from infections to allergies to various medical disorders, so understanding this common skin problem is a must for every dog owner.

Dog Pododermatitis Definition

Pododermatitis is inflammation of the skin on a dog’s feet or paws. It can affect one or more paws and typically targets the paw pads, nails, nail folds, and the skin between the toes.


Pododermatitis may start as itchy and irritating but can become painful without treatment. The condition can also lead to weakness in the limbs and general fatigue. It is a common symptom of many diseases, including some serious ones. Therefore, even if it doesn’t look severe, Pododermatitis is something that should never be overlooked.

Dog Pododermatitis Causes

There are various causes of pododermatitis dog paws. Here are some of the most common:


  • Paw infection – A dog paw infection may display redness, a foul scent, lesions with discharge, and swelling. Dogs can pick up infections from the ground, but they can also develop them from excessive licking. If a dog keeps licking a wound, it can transfer bacteria residing in its mouth onto the open cut. While Pododermatitis itself is not contagious, if the inflammation is due to an infection, it may be transferable.
  • Parasites – Some parasites such as ticks, mange mites, and hookworms can cause pododermatitis.
  • Allergies – Environmental, contact, and food allergies can cause paw inflammation as the feet are one of the first areas to be affected. In these cases, there will be a high level of itchiness present.
  • Foreign objects – Pododermatitis can also be caused by sharp objects piercing your pup’s feet or insect stings or bites. 
  • Genetics – Some breeds are more susceptible to getting pododermatitis, such as Boxers, Bull Terriers, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers.

Pododermatitis Associations

There are also some diseases and medical conditions that are associated with pododermatitis:


  • Immune-mediated disorders such as Lupus, Pemphigus, and Vasculitis compromise the body’s defenses against harmful elements and infections. Crusts, ulcerations, and sometimes blisters may be present in these cases.
  • Hormonal Disorders like Addison’s Disease, Cushing’s Disease, Hypoestrogenism, and Hypothyroidism weaken the immune system and increase the chance of infection.
  • Cancerous tumors grow over the dog’s feet, such as epitheliotropic lymphoma and nail bed squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Canine Distemper Virus lowers the immune system, resulting in secondary infections.

Diagnoses for the Cause

It’s essential to determine the exact origin of pododermatitis because while the condition itself may not be severe, the underlying cause could be. Vets will diagnose the cause based on the dog’s medical history and clinical symptoms. 


For example, they will carry out a thorough physical examination to see if the dog’s paws are red and swollen and if lesions and discharge are present. They may then take a skin sample from the affected area to look at under a microscope, a technique known as Cutaneous cytology.


Cutaneous cytology is one of the most common diagnosing methods used. It looks for the presence or absence of inflammatory cells, bacteria, yeast, and parasites. If a parasite is suspected, they may take skin scrapings or hair pluckings to determine the exact type.


A complete blood count can also be a usual way to diagnose the cause, particularly a virus, disorder, or hormonal imbalance. Urine testing, biopsies, food trials, and radiographic imaging can also help pinpoint the exact origin.

Dog Pododermatitis Treatment

Because pododermatitis is a symptom rather than an actual medical condition, the specific cause will determine the treatment. Even if the cause is an infection, the dog paw infection treatment you require will depend on the type of infection. For example, suppose the cause is a bacterial infection. In that case, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed, with or without topical treatment. However, if inflammation is due to fungus, an antifungal medicine will be necessary.


The condition may not be curable if pododermatitis occurs due to an allergic or immune-mediated cause. However, anti-inflammatory topical or oral medication will help reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain. Moreover, surgical removal may be necessary for tumors.


Depending on the cause and the severity, it can take up to twelve weeks for the dog foot infection to heal fully. However, even for severe cases, you should start to see improvement within 2 to 4 weeks. Still, you should continue the entire course of treatment as advised by your vet. 


Pododermatitis in dogs rarely goes away without treatment as it’s not a simple skin irritation but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition. What’s more, the longer it goes untreated, the more serious it can become. 


Pododermatitis typically starts as swollen, red, and itchy feet, which can progress to painful sores and even lameness. Therefore, if you suspect pododermatitis in your dog, the best thing you can do is book an appointment with your vet.

Treating your dog's pododermatitis at home

When combined with veterinary-prescribed medication, a pododermatitis dog paw home remedy may help to speed up your four-legged friend’s recovery. If you suspect a yeast infection, you can wipe the paws using a homemade vinegar solution. Mix distilled white vinegar and water at a 1:10 ratio.


Alternatively, suppose your dog’s paws seem incredibly itchy. In that case, you can apply apple cider vinegar or coconut oil to the affected foot. Adding some yogurt to their food may also help relieve itchiness caused by an allergy. 


When you first notice the inflammation and are waiting to see your vet, you can try to relieve the symptoms by soaking their feet in warm water or washing them with a dog shampoo. However, never give them any human medication such as painkillers, even if your dog seems in pain. 


Your vet will likely suggest that you minimize your dog’s movement and exercise during the treatment period. However, whether you have to restrict all walks will be determined case-by-case. If you take your dog out for walks, it’s best to bandage the infected paw to prevent further damage and avoid taking them on rough surfaces.

Pododermatitis Prevention

There are some general things you can do to reduce the chances of your dog getting pododermatitis. However, as it is a broad condition, nothing can guarantee total prevention. Here are some things that may help you prevent pododermatitis dog paws.


  • Implementing a healthy diet – The more robust your dog’s immune system, the less chance they will have of picking up an infection. By feeding high-quality, complete dog food with the appropriate nutrients, you’ll help your pup stay healthy. 
  • Establishing a grooming routine – A common cause of dog paw infections is overgrown nails. Therefore, nail trimming can help prevent inflammation. In addition, regular paw cleaning with antibacterial wipes or shampoo will reduce the chance of bacterial infection.
  • Being careful of where they walk – Sharp or rough terrain can cut your dog’s feet, and hot surfaces can cause burning or blistering. 
  • Wearing dog boots – If your pup tolerates wearing dog boots, this can be an excellent way to protect their sensitive paws during their walks.

Final Thoughts

Pododermatitis dog paws can be highly irritating and painful for dogs, preventing them from walking and running with ease. If you notice your dog’s paws are red between the toes or swollen, book an appointment with your vet without delay. The faster you determine the inflammation’s cause, the faster your four-legged friend can get back to its usual playful and happy self.

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