Sore Red Paws-Pododermatitis in Dogs

Posted by MyDogDoc on

Is your dog keeping you awake at night constantly lick, lick, licking at their paws?! Let’s take a look at what causes this irritating problem!

  • When dogs have pododermatitis the skin of their feet becomes red, sore and sometimes swollen and itchy.

  • There are many causes of pododermatitis; it can be the only problem, or part of a general skin condition.

  • It might take some time to discover the cause - and your vet may need to do more tests.

  • Luckily, most problems can be cured, or managed with treatment to make your dog more comfortable. And there are some things you can do to help take care of your dog’s paws at home!

Dogs spend a lot of their lives on their paws- walking, running and playing so it is important to keep them healthy and comfortable. If you have noticed your pup licking their paws more than usual or redness to the skin between their toes they may have pododermatitis. This term is used to describe inflammation of the skin of the feet. It is a common problem with many causes.

What signs will my dog show?

Licking and chewing- it is normal for dogs to lick their paws as part of grooming but excessive paw licking causing moist, wet paws may be the first sign of a problem.

  • Redness

  • Discharge

  • Swellings and lumps between the toes.

  • Limping

When looking at your dog’s paws at home go gently as many are not keen on having their feet touched especially if they are sore.

Common causes

  • Contact irritation – Some of the things our pup’s paws come into contact with on walks can cause an irritation. An example is road grit and salt in winter.

  • Parasites - The Demodex mite lives in low numbers in the hair follicles or all dogs but in some, especially in dogs with poor immune systems, it can populate the skin in large numbers causing problems. Tiny orange ‘harvest mites’ can also cause very itchy red skin especially in late summer/autumn.

  • Allergies - A common culprit for itchy feet. Sometimes foot chewing and redness is the only initial sign of an underlying allergy.

  • Foreign bodies - Most commonly pesky grass seeds that get lodged usually between the toes and can work their way under the skin.

  • Infection - Both bacteria and yeasts can overgrow and cause infection between warm, moist toes, often alongside other causes of pododermatitis. Dogs can be prone to getting a deep bacterial infection in their feet causing oozing , painful swellings and lumps .

  • Conformational Pododermatitis - This is due to the shape of a dog’s paws and the way they walk on them. Unfortunately some pups, especially those with excess weight or splayed toes, end up bearing weight on haired skin rather than the pads. This causes rubbing and trauma to the skin, impacted hairs and infection.


Sometimes the reason for your poor pup’s sore feet is obvious, in other cases it’s more complicated to diagnose and treat. Vets will look at:

  • How many paws are affected?

  • How long has it been a problem for and whether it has happened before?

  • What the rest of the skin looks like

  • How the dog is weight bearing

  • Signs of any other diseases/illnesses

  • Hair, skin samples, or samples of any discharge may be taken. Your pup may need to be assessed for underlying allergies.

Treatment will depend on what is diagnosed as the underlying cause but most dogs can be cured or managed well to keep them comfortable on those all important paws.

Looking after your pup’s paws

Many of the causes of pododermatitis can’t be prevented but there are some simple things you can do to help take care of your pup’s paws and catch any problems early.

Clean and check those paws after a walk- check for things stuck between the toes and pads, in particular grass seeds but also small stones or chewing gum.

Keep your dog groomed to prevent matts between the toes and their nails short.

Avoid walking your dog on hot pavements in the summer and wash their paws after walks in the winter if the roads have been salted or gritted.

If you’d like more help with your dog’s sore paws, the MyDogDoc vet team are happy to chat!

Allergy Conformational pododermatitis Contact irritation Demodex Dog Foreign bodies Grass seeds Health Infection Licking paws Parasites Paws Pododermatitis Red paws Sore paws

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