Common Dog Foot Problems

Dogs spend a lot of time running, jumping, and generally romping around. It's no surprise, then, that are fairly . Examine your dog's paws regularly - think of it as a "preventive" health check! Doing so can help you identify minor problems before they become most serious (and more costly) problems. Here's a quick summary of some of the more common dog foot problems:

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  • Biting, licking, or chewing at her paws often indicate allergies. Your vet can assist you in determining what substances, if anything, your dog is allergic to.

    Another reason why dogs might persistently lick or chew her paws is because of an embedded object - for instance, dogs that are walked through fields or forests may find that a plant seed or burr has managed to attach itself to the paw. Gently remove the object and monitor the area for any signs of infection.

  • Torn or fractured nails can occur when your dog "catches" the nail on something. This is extremely painful, and the nail should be completely removed by your vet (do not attempt to do this yourself). Eventually the nail should regrow unless the trauma to the nail bed was too severe.

  • Cut on the paw. Our dogs run through all sorts of terrain, so a cut isn't uncommon. Wash cuts out and apply an antiseptic ointment. Wrap some gauze around the paw and cover with a soft sock or a dog bootie, if you have one. This helps to prevent your dog from licking at the wound.

    Large or deep cuts should be examined by your vet.

  • Cracked or dry paw pads. Dry and cracked pads sometimes open up and bleed. Apply a moisturizer to your dog's paws that's for pets, even if they were to lick it off. Coconut oil is great for this purpose, and is completely safe for dogs - and good for them,too!

    Don't apply moisturizer too often, though - your dog relies on "tough" paw pads for walking, and over-applying moisturizer can make the paws too soft and sensitive.

  • Foreign objects lodged in the paw, whether it's in the pad itself or in between your dog's toes. This includes burrs, seeds, dried mud, and even just matted fur. Carefully remove any foreign objects and clip mats - be careful not to nip / damage the "webbing" between your dog's pads.

  • Interdigital cysts sometimes occur. These are lumps that form in between the dog's paw pads. A vet can perform a fine needle aspirate of the lump to check whether the lump is benign or malignant.

  • Long toenails should be trimmed. You can do this at home, or if you haven't done it before or are uncomfortable doing so, it can be done at the vet's or at a dog grooming salon. Keeping your pet's nails short will help to prevent torn nails, and keep walking comfortable for your dog.

If your dog runs a great deal, especially over rough terrain or in very hot or very cold conditions, consider investing in a set of dog boots. Yes, they look funny and it most dogs need time to get used to them, but the boots can save your dog's paws from excessive discomfort or injury. Dog foot problems can occur at any time since our canine pals love to run and play - so keep a watchful eye out for potential issues that may need treatment.