Last Updated on December 21, 2020
You and your dog’s veterinarian can find out a lot about their well-being just by checking their paws. That’s right – because your dog’s paws aren’t fully covered with hair, they are a nice spot to check for signs of various health issues. Paw problems in dogs can be linked to many things, from injuries to allergies, so if you want a healthy dog, we encourage you to pay close attention to your dog’s paw problems.
Let’s jump in!
1. Dog Paw Allergies
If you notice that your dog has been licking their feet a lot lately and you check their paws and find out they are inflamed and red, this might be a sign of dog allergies. Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to allergies, and this will make their skin weaker as a protective barrier against the outside world. If their skin is more sensitive, it will easily get irritated when exposed to allergens. If this is not treated, it can develop into something more serious, like a bacterial infection.
2. Bacterial Infections
Your dog’s paws carry a fair number of bacterial organisms. Still, if they suffer from paw allergies, as we mentioned before, there is a higher chance that these organisms will rapidly multiply, causing a bacterial infection. How can you know if your dog is suffering from a bacterial infection? Pay attention to them and see if they are constantly biting or licking their paws – this might be a sign they are feeling discomfort, like an itch or even pain. Call a vet so you can get further analysis on the issue and get prescribed dog antibiotics and antibacterial lotions to ease your dog’s discomfort.
3. Fungal Infections
Dog paw infections can either be bacterial or fungal. Fungal infections, commonly referred to as yeast infections, are caused by a yeast organism that is usually present in your dog’s paws. The symptoms are pretty much the same as the ones from bacterial infections. Still, a yeast infection can be worsened by excessive licking, so it’s important to pay a visit to the vet so they can determine what’s going on and prescribe appropriate treatment.
This fungus can only be contracted if your dog has direct contact with an infected animal or surface that an infected animal has touched (like the soil at dog parks, for example, or a dog bed). Ringworms in dogs manifest through an abscess or a swollen toe – so even though the name can induce you in error, ringworms are not actual worms. To prescribe a ringworm treatment, your dog’s vet will have to make sure you are dealing with this type of fungus. The exam is made by taking a skin or hair sample, that will then be observed through a microscope to get the diagnosis. Humans can get ringworm too, so the best course of action is prevention – disinfect your house, your dog’s environment, and buy appropriate bath products.
5. Injuries In Their Toenails
Your dog’s nails are in constant contact with the ground, so if you don’t trim them properly, this lack of care can result in ingrown toenails, which will be quite painful for your furry friend. If this becomes a severe case of ingrown toenails, surgery might be required, so it’s better if you prevent this by taking care of your puppy’s nails. If they have an ingrown toenail, take them to the vet so they can treat this issue with pain medication and antibiotics. Another toenail issue common to dogs is a torn nail. If the entire nail is ripped off, take your dog to see the vet immediately.
If you leave in an area where it gets really hot during the summer, you need to protect your dog’s paws. Otherwise, their little paw cushions might get badly burnt, causing ruptures and blisters in their skin, which might lead to the loss of an entire layer of skin. Your vet will most likely prescribe medication, and bandaging will be necessary to protect the affected skin area. If you can, try to avoid walking your dog on asphalt soil whenever possible, or get them to wear little dog booties.
7. Cold Burns And Road Salt
Living somewhere where it is extremely hot in the summer is as dangerous for your dog’s paws as living somewhere where there is snow in the winter. Walking on snow can cause frostbites, which is like a burn caused by ice. The treatment is pretty much the same as for regular burns, and prevention can also be done the same way – avoid exposing your dog to snow, and if you must do it, make them wear tiny dog boots to protect their paws. A thing that is used to remove snow from the road is road salt, but this can be harmful to your dog’s paws as well, so be sure to clean their paws with a towel when you get home to prevent any health problems or infections caused by road salt.
Ticks in dogs can usually be found hiding in the middle of their tiny toes, and if you value your dog’s health, you should always check for ticks every single time you go out with your best friend. These parasites are known for causing blood-borne diseases, especially in dogs, so if you find any, you must remove them right away. If you want to do this at home, you can use a pair of tweezers, or purchase an appropriate tool. If you don’t feel comfortable, take your dog to the vet so they can do it properly.
9. Paw hair
It is vital that you invest some time into dog grooming, because some dogs have long hair, including in their paws. Dog paw hair might get tangled to the point where the poor animals have thick mats in between their tiny toes, which will pull their skin and make them more prone to irritation. If your dog is suffering from any dog infection, having long hair in their paws won’t help – on the contrary, it might make the infection worse. Take your dog to the groomer regularly and do not attempt to cut the mats at home using scissors, because there is a chance you might end up cutting your dog’s skin.
To find out if your dog is carrying mites, you must take them to the veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis. This condition can get ugly pretty fast – some mites can start living in your dog’s hair follicles, where they will multiply. The increase in the number of mites will then lead to swelling, scaling on your dog’s paws, and even hair loss. The treatment for mites can last for several months, depending on the severity of the issue.