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Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

Written By Darlene Stott
Published: 04/20/2017Updated: 10/28/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Inflammation of the Paws?

Pododermatitis, or the inflammation of the paw and pad, can become painful and debilitating if it is left untreated. The diseases and disorders that can instigate this kind of swelling are many and the treatment plans may vary depending on what the cause of the discomfort is diagnosed as.

Mild cases may have fewer symptoms, although excessive grooming and licking of the paws are relatively standard regardless of the cause of the disorder. More severe cases may escalate to bleeding, sloughing of paw pads, and reluctance to stand or walk. Swollen feet should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.

Inflammation of the paws, also known as pododermatitis, can be quite irritating and often painful to the dog. As pododermatitis has multiple triggers, treatment is usually focussed on the underlying cause of the swollen feet.

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Symptoms of Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

Dogs of any age, sex, or breed may develop pododermatitis. The dog’s feet are likely to be tender to the touch, and they may be reluctant to stand or walk. Other signs of swollen paws include:

  • Biting nails
  • Bleeding from paws
  • Cracking of the paw pad
  • Excessive foot licking
  • Foul odor
  • Lameness
  • Lumps on foot
  • Redness
  • Sloughing paw pads
  • Warmth from feet


Although dogs of any breed or gender can develop inflamed paws for a number of reasons, some breeds of dog may be more likely to develop diseases or disorders that lead to inflamed paws. Some examples of paw disorders that result in swelling and are breed specific include:

Familial Footpad Hyperkeratosis

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Golden Retriever
  • Irish Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Labrador Retriever

Idiopathic Sterile Granuloma of the Feet

  • Boxer
  • Collie
  • Dachshund
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • English Bulldog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Weimaraner

Zinc-Responsive Skin Disorder

  • Siberian Husky
  • Alaskan Malamute

Causes of Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

Several different circumstances can lead to paws becoming swollen. Some of these may well include:

  • Allergies - Allergies of all sorts, environmental, contact, and food allergies, tend to show up on the skin for most canines, and one of the first areas they can affect are the paws
  • Bacterial and Fungal Infections - This type of disorder often presents with feet that are swollen, itchy, and often smelly
  • Environmental - Dogs may also get swollen feet by burning them on hot pavement, injuring them with caustic materials, or by stings or bites by insects
  • Immune-Mediated Disorders - Autoimmune disorders such as Pemphigus Foliaceous can induce painful hyperkeratosis of the pad of the paw
  • Tumors - In some cases, the swelling may be due to a tumor or tumors that have grown on the patient’s paw or paws

Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

As many conditions can affect the state of the paws, there are many techniques and tests that may be utilized to determine the origin of the pain and swelling. Your veterinarian will typically start a thorough physical examination with a focus on the condition of the paws. Hairs from the edge of the area of the hair loss may be examined microscopically to determine if there is any thinning or weakness in the structure of the hair itself. 

The examining veterinarian will also typically examine a skin sample taken from the affected paw or paws under the microscope, a technique known as cutaneous cytology. Cutaneous cytology may allow the technician get visual confirmation of fungal, parasitic, or bacterial infestation that may be present on the surface of the skin. Standard diagnostic tests such as a biochemical profile, urinalysis, and a complete blood count may be evaluated to assess the hormonal balance and to check for infections or indications that the immune system was being overactive.

Treatment of Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

Treatment of pododermatitis will be dependent on treating any underlying disease or disorder that is responsible for the pain and discomfort. If the cause is related to any sort of substance, such as ice melt or cleaning solution, the feet should be thoroughly washed and cleaned and medications such as antibiotics or antifungals may be needed to help with any bacterial or fungal infections. Corticosteroids or anti-inflammatories may also be administered either orally or by injection to reduce swelling and inflammation or medications to adjust for imbalances in the patient’s blood chemistry levels. Dogs with tumors or pustules on the feet may require surgery to remove the growths before the pain and swelling will be eliminated. 

Many of these methods of treatment take days or weeks before the underlying illness is controlled, and the animal may be reluctant to stand or walk.  Excessive discomfort in the feet may be further treated with topical anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid drugs. It is crucial to follow a veterinary professional’s instructions on all medications that are administered in order to be certain that the different specific drugs that are provided do not interfere with one another, and that no overdoses occur due to treatment with various forms of similar medications.

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Recovery of Inflammation of the Paws in Dogs

The prognosis for dogs who are exhibiting painful or swollen paws will depend on the ability to treat the underlying disorder. Some disorders may be managed in a relatively short amount of time and without a great deal of trouble, but others complaints may be more stubborn and take weeks or months to be fully eliminated. 

Additional support measures may need to be utilized until the paw pad is healed as compromised paws can be particularly susceptible to environmental hazards. In order to properly care for the damaged paws, they should be cleaned, inspected, and moisturized regularly, and socks or shoes designed to protect a dog’s paws may be recommended to protect the healing tissues.

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Inflammation of the Paws Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Five Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
I have no Idea what it is but it’s attacking them and me . Found in dog paw

April 22, 2021

Answered by Dr. Sara O. DVM

1 Recommendations

Hello, I am not for sure what this is based on the picture. I would try to remove these from your dogs paws. If it is swollen or there are any cute you can apply triple antibiotic ointment

May 11, 2021

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Pit Bull



Two Months


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Swollen Paws
My puppy has red rash along his groun area and all 4 paws are swollen. His back.legs are red and swollen

Jan. 26, 2021

Answered by Dr. Maureen M. DVM

2 Recommendations

Hi, Sorry about that. That sounds like an allergic reaction. Please visit the vet for some antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs. Good luck

Jan. 26, 2021

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