The paw pads of a dog are the only part of their anatomy that are in constant contact with the ground. That is what makes them the most susceptible to dirt, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms.
As a result, their feet usually harbor injuries, calluses, and even skin diseases. One of the most common is Pododermatitis.
Pododermatitis is a medical term used to describe the inflammation of the paw pad. If you’ve noticed that your dog’s paws are red between the toes, this is probably the reason.
The signs and severity differ but to spot pododermatitis in your dog, you have to look out for;
- Redness of the skin of the paw.
- Patchy baldness of the affected area.
- Swelling .
- Nodules or lumps in the skin.
- Hyperkeratosis or thickening of the paw pads.
- Ulcerations or wounds.
- Draining tracts.
- Frequent licking.
- Limping in your dog’s stride.
- Crusts and blisters.
- Darkening of the skin.
Pododermatitis can affect both feet and is sometimes a sign or part of a more extensive skin issue. It is quite common in dogs with a skin problem, this should not be left untreated as it can cause very painful sores for your pup. In some extreme cases, it can even lead to lameness.
Some breeds more susceptible to pododermatitis:
- English Bulldogs.
- Basset Hounds.
- Irish Setters.
- Great Danes.
- Bull Terriers.
- Labrador Retrievers.
- Golden Retrievers.
- German Shorthaired Pointers.
- German Shepherds.
Why are my dog’s paws red?
Moreover, it could be an indicator of pododermatitis. If it’s not, then there are chances your dog’s paws are red from pain, food allergies, contact dermatitis, parasites, excessive chewing and licking from anxiety, or a simple bacterial or fungal infection. Either way, it is always an indicator that you should check your dog’s paws or visit a vet.
What causes pododermatitis?
Pododermatitis in dogs can be caused by a lot of reasons, ranging from infection, autoimmune diseases, allergies, tumors or cancers, hormonal disorders to even environmental pollutants. Their specific causes are;
Pododermatitis in dogs often arise from different kinds of infections that could be bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or viral in nature.
Examples are: Ringworm, yeast, mycetoma, and blastomycosis for fungal ones.
Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, and Mycobacterium for bacterial infections.
Pododermatitis can also be passed down to puppies if their parents had a genetic health condition affiliated with pododermatitis.
- Parasites like fleas, ticks, mites, mange mites, hookworms, and nematodes.
- Seasonal allergies, dietary and grass allergies. Examples include triggers like pollen, dust, or food.
- Trauma from foreign objects, irritation from hard surfaces, or unfavorable temperature.
- Environmental causes like imbalance in humidity.
- Hormonal diseases like Cushing’s Disease, Addison’s Disease, hypoestrogenism and diabetes.
- Obesity – Too much weight on the paws that may cause friction.
How is pododermatitis diagnosed in dogs?
Veterinarians usually make their diagnosis by going through the pet’s medical history, looking at the visible clinical signs, and carrying out cytological tests on the skin, skin scrapings, and hair strands.
Bloodwork, serum biochemistry panel and a urinalysis will help detect the presence or absence of inflammatory cells, bacteria, and yeast.
Scrapings from the skin and hair are used to appraise parasites like Demodex mites.
They may also employ the use of bacterial and fungal cultures, biopsies, blood and urine tests, hypoallergenic food trials, and radiographs to make their diagnosis.
Dog Pododermatitis Treatment
There’s no need to worry if your dog has been diagnosed with this condition or the underlying disease causing it.
Even though pododermatitis mostly doesn’t go away on its own, there are some personal steps you can take to treat it alongside vet-recommended medication.
Here are some tips to aid you in helping your dog combat it:
Grooming your dog’s paws regularly will help you treat and even prevent pododermatitis.
- Learn how to trim dog nails.
- Cut the hair between their paw pads.
- Do regular paw checks.
- Moisturize and massage the paws.
Using a medicated shampoo to wash your dog also helps treat it. In place of such shampoos, you can use Epsom salts.
Fill a tub or container with warm water, add a few cups of Epsom salts, stir them in, and let your dog soak their feet for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Epsom salts help to dry out the moist pododermatitis wounds. Rinse your dog’s feet thoroughly with clean water because leaving salt residue on the skin might trigger irritation.
- You can also clean the infected area regularly to keep it clean from dirt. Dirty feet will only complicate your dog’s condition. Use a gauze or cotton soaked in saline, to clean the paw. It is useful especially when you want to apply topical treatment.
- Treatment of carpeted areas, or other surfaces your dog comes in contact with his feet in the house.
- Avoid known triggers such as grasses/pollen. If his allergy is dietary, watch out for that ingredient in the meals you give him. Corticosteroids like prednisone and immune-modulating drugs like cyclosporine are helpful for seasonal or food allergies.
- Washing your dog’s legs after walks, or other outdoor activities will help reduce irritation.
- Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications.
Depending on the cause of the infectious pododermatitis in your dogs, you will require antibiotics, antifungal medication, or antiparasitic pills, prescribed by a professional.
- If your dog’s paw infection is caused by nutritional reasons, a change in diet is recommended. They will need to be placed on a balanced, high-fat, and low carbohydrate diet.
- For pets owners who are skeptical of medication, organic home remedies like stimmune, felimm, yucca, ES-Clear, and milk thistle will also suffice.
- To relieve your fur friend of the itching or discomfort, apply a cold compress to the inflamed area.
If your dog’s pododermatitis is only a symptom of a major underlying disease, treatment is best for that disease. Over time, it will also go away because the root problem has been taken care of.
Pododermatitis is not contagious or infectious so it is okay to allow people and other dogs around your pet when they have sore paws.
This can be greatly prevented by grooming and washing your dog’s feet after a day out in the park. To sum up, always visit a vet to prescribe treatment if it’s needed.