Your Best Foot Forward: Paw Problems in Pets

Your pet’s paws are more than just adorable. They are what allows for those romps in the fields, a good swimming session, digging in the dirt, and even some special bonding moments. Who can resist that gentle paw in your lap when you least expect it?

Paws are certainly tough, but they also take a beating. Paws come into close contact with the world around them, and are constantly exposed to moisture, allergens, irritants, and other dangers. It’s no wonder that paw problems in pets aren’t uncommon.

The Common Culprits

At the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic, we commonly deal with many problems related to the paws. They are also easily accessible to our four-legged friends, who often make bad problems worse by licking and chewing.

When a pet is having paw problems, you might notice redness, a change in odor, limping, bleeding, swelling, and increased attention to the area. There are several common culprits for this, including:

  • Allergic pododermatitis
  • Bacterial, yeast, or fungal infections
  • Allergy
  • Ingrown or broken nails
  • Mange and other ectoparasites
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Systemic disease such as liver problems
  • Growths including warts, cysts, or tumors
  • Irritation, cuts, or burns
  • Arthritis and other orthopedic disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Cancer
  • Foreign body

Sometimes it can be difficult to sort out what is causing the problem, and just like that pair of poorly fitting shoes you can’t stand to wear, when pets have paw problems it can be very uncomfortable and even painful.

Many times diagnostic testing such as blood tests, bacterial cultures, and even biopsies may be needed to get to the bottom of the problem.

Preventing Paw Problems

While you can’t ward off all paw problems, some, such as broken nails, are very preventable. Even allergic problems are more manageable with a little extra care. Be sure to:

Trim, trim, trim – When your pet’s nails are overgrown, they alter the dynamics of the entire paw. This can cause pain and irritation, leading to licking and limping. Long nails can also snag and break or even grow around into the paw pad, causing infection. Regular nail trims are important for your pet’s health and well-being.

Shave and a haircut – Regular grooming can help your pet as well. Trimming long hair on the paws can minimize the allergens and irritants that are trapped and held against the skin. Frequent wiping or washing of your pet’s paws can also help to decrease exposure to potential problems.

Provide protection – Be sure to use caution when walking your pet on hot or hard surfaces. If you can’t hold your hand on a surface for more than 10 seconds, don’t ask your pet to walk on it. Rocks, ice, and gravel can be delicate on tender pads as well. Try to walk on more paw-friendly surfaces and use well-fitted protective booties if needed.

Bring them in – Routine wellness examinations are important to head off paw problems. Seeing your regular veterinarian routinely can lead to the diagnosis of issues before they become severe. If your pet has more serious or chronic skin or allergy problems, visiting our expert staff can help to ensure the best possible management of the issue.

Your pet’s paws are important. Be sure to let us know if you are noticing paw problems so that we can help keep your pet functional, happy, and adorable as ever.


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