Your dog’s paws aren’t typically on your mind until they start limping or favoring some legs over others. If your dog shows signs of a paw injury, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have an infection but it’s important to know how to recognize an infection.
Paw infections can be especially challenging to treat because it’s hard to keep your dog from using their paws, and this can prevent infections from healing.
In this article, we’ll review the causes, symptoms, and tips for treating an infected dog paw.
Causes of Paw Infections
Like any other kind of infection, paw infections are preceded by the entrance of bacteria’s, viruses, fungi, or other foreign bodies into the tissue of the paw through an injury. Whether the paw injury is a tiny puncture from a thorn or a sore from walking on a hot surface, there’s always an opportunity for an infection to take hold no matter the size of the injury.
It’s important to note that infections can also be caused by less obvious things– like allergies. If your dog’s allergies cause them to constantly lick their paws, they can wear down the tissue and cause sore spots that are vulnerable to infection. The same can happen from complications due to flea infestations.
Breeds of dogs with less padding on their paws or slimmer limbs– such as the Greyhounds –are more likely to develop paw problems than others. And dogs with compromised immune systems or other health conditions and medications affecting immune systems are also more susceptible.
Symptoms of Paw Infections
It’s wise to get in the habit of checking your dog’s paws. When you’re checking, be sure to check for these symptoms of paw infections:
● General swelling across the paw or on one of the toes
● An obvious injury– puncture, graze, cut, gash, etc.
● Limping, favoring one leg
● Puss or discharge oozing from the paw
● A foul smell coming from the paw
● Itching/skin irritation on the paw
● Obsessive licking or biting of the paw
● Reluctance to walk on the affected paw
● Reluctance to let you examine the paw
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice the above symptoms in your dog, you should allow your vet to give them a physical examination. They will be able to identify whether your dog’s paw is affected by an infection versus other possible problems. This is typically determined by taking a skin scraping of the infected tissue for analyzation. Your vet may also want to run blood tests and/or x-rays depending on the suspected severity.
Different culprits of infection– bacteria, virus, fungus –require different treatments, and the severity and duration of the infection will also determine the treatment plan.
Bacterial infections are typically treated with antibiotics, pain killers, and sometimes anti-inflammatory medications. These infections also require the paw to be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged, which you may have to repeat daily until the infection has had time to heal.
The better wrapped an infected paw is, the better– because you’re also trying to prevent your pet from licking, biting, or walking on the wound. Your dog may also need to wear a cone collar to prevent them from disturbing the bandage.
With the proper treatment and care, paw infections can generally be healed without a problem. But don’t write them off as something that doesn’t require your attention to be resolved because they can cause your dog a lot of pain and also lead to more severe problems.
For more information about paw injuries and a product that reinforces your dog’s paw pad strength, check out PawFriction
I had no idea that an infection may be caused by a small thorn in your dog’s paw. Recently, my dog has been limping ever since we went on a walk to the park, and I am worried that he might have stepped on something while he was there. Maybe it would be best to speak to a vet to see what is wrong with my dog’s paw.
Can you self wash your dogs paw with perioxide
We have cheet grass and goat heads bad. Unfortunately my vet won’t drain my pups paw. I have learned an epsom salt soak help draw out the infection. I hope you have better luck, it’s so hard when they’re hurt.
today while grooming my dog i noticed both front feet on top are black and have a wierd look to them also one of her ears has the same look and feel to it she dont seem to be bothered by it any idea what is going on ???
Lately my dog has been obsessively licking her paw which caused it to have a red like colour. I’m unsure if it’s infected and I’m starting to get very worried. About half a year ago her paw was cut by something at the dog park, she did not limp or show any sign of pain, she would just lick it. She wouldn’t let us see her paw or else she would try to bite us. My parents are refusing to take her to a vet because they believe it’s nothing. Any advice?
Hi Mary: Dr. Bone here. The red color is due to salivary staining…it is called porphyrin. The real question is why your dog is licking in the first place.
You’re dog has an infection
.get it check my a veterinarian.
It might be infected or have fungus that is going on with my dog right now I took him to the vet he got an injection and some antibiotics for two weeks and still he isn’t getting better need to go back again more money to spend
I didn’t know that Greyhounds are more likely to have paw issues compared to other breeds. Ever since I took my Greyhound to daycare, I noticed that she hasn’t been using her left paw to walk, which makes me wonder if she has a splinter. Perhaps I should find a veterinarian that can help treat my dog.
Hi Eli: Dr. Bone here. They definitely get their fair share of “corns.” I always checked for those in practice because it is the equivalent to walking on a small rock in the paw pads.
Hello my dog cut her paw 3 weeks ago and got stitches. She was on antibiotics and we’ve been taking care of it as the vet instructed. It’s still wrapped but she just started limping again and it looks fine. Any idea?
You might try removing the bandage and making sure it isn’t too tight.
Will warm salt water work
Hi Kelly: Dr. Bone here. We will recommend epsom salt soaks on occasion once we know what we are dealing with. It can help with discharge and swelling.
My shitzu has a wounded paw and leaking clear liquid and smells like rotten blood. What is it?
This is tough to say. COuld be anything and we would recommend having it checked out!
Theres a pink swelling on my dogs paw, and in between the fingers, and she’s limping
She recently had a maggot infestation in the tail which rated half of her tail but we treated her in time, she’s also in heat
What to do about the paws?
I would definitely recommend getting this looked at!
My dog baby toe has been swollen for a week no signs of a bug bit no redness I’ve done everything possible to help her.
Hi Sheila- Dr. Bone here. It might be time to have your vet take a look. Some of these infections require antibiotics to take care of them.
I didn’t realize that your dog may develop an infection if they lick their paws as a result of their allergies. My German shepherd has been trying to avoid using one of her front legs to walk, and I am worried that the sores on her paw are irritating her. Maybe I should find a professional to help me determine what the problem is.
My dog has been spending a lot of superivised time outside because of warm weather. Yesterday and today I noticed he was obsessively licking his paw. After managing to examine it, I saw inflamed and pink and wet skin between the pads an a tiny grey/white bump where the pad and skin meet. Is this a case for the vet or would epsom salt and time do the trick
YOu can definitely try soaking it first. If it doesn’t improve, definitely head to your vet.
My dog started living and I’m not sure if its been an all day thing which I highly doubt because I noticed she was limping but I’m a little doubtful. I looked at her leg to see if she was cut and checked her feet. She kept licking the top of her toes. In between them it looked pretty pink and almost infected. Im not sure if I should try to treat it now or take her to a vet?
I would definitely take her in sooner rather than later. Paw pad infections are common this time of the year.
Hi, so the about 4-5 days ago my dog cut his paw pad on something outside and it bled greatly for a minute. I cleaned it up and bandaged it. The 3rd day of cleaning and bandage I notice that the paw became red and my dog began to limp and lick his paw. I don’t know if this is because I had it wrapped to tight or there is an infection. The limping has stopped but every time I take the bandage off it is still red and he insist on licking it.
Sounds like there may be something else going on, I would have it looked at!
My dog has been obsessively licking one toe. It’s very pink in between the toes and possibly infected. I recently moved cross-country, and the vet clinics near me aren’t taking new patients until mid-July due to Covid. I also can’t take her to an urgent care clinic because I don’t have a car, and there aren’t any within walking distance. She has allergies, and I already have prescribed Gentamicin spray for her skin irritations. Could I use this to treat her paw? Would it harm her if it ends up not being a bacterial infection?
Gentamicin can certainly help and it won’t harm her but may not help
Noticed my dogs paw has been bleeding, looked at it and it’s pink and looks like a white discharge. He keeps licking and trying not to put pressure on it
Anytime a dog won’t walk on their foot it is definitely worth getting checked out!
Our 3 year old med large dog seemed to get something in her paw with sudden discharge which helped her limping.Ended up going to vet for xray,exam, found nothing but had infection.Put on meds, she gets good then the limping starts again, and this time it is worse, keeps her paw off the floor as much as possible.It appears swollen, ankle area and down.Maybe need a 2nd opinion?
Definitely! I would look into a veterinary dermatologist
It helps a lot when you mention how dogs with slender limbs may be more likely to experience paw complications. Ever since my Chihuahua broke her paw when she fell off of our deck outside a month ago, we have been worried that the wound might have become infected since it has been taking a long time to heal. Maybe I should find an expert that can examine my dog’s injury.
Definitely! Front limbs can be very difficult to heal
Our German Shepard starting licking/chewing on her paw. Now her left left paw toe is red, swollen and tender to palpation at the base near the joint. We’ve taken her to the vet and he said it could be from arthritis in her hip but she’s got issues with her hip. We also got Rimadyl and some ointment (BNT EKT) that the vet made but there has been little to no improvement. They want to do x-rays on her hip, but It really appears to be more localized to her toe. Thoughts?
I think it might be best to image the entire leg, including the toe.
Is it true that I am supposed to be shaving the hair from between my pups paws/toes/pads to prevent yeast infection?
anything to help water to build up can be beneficial but shaving the paws does not prevent a yeast infection
Hi. I took my pitbull to the vet, they did a skin cytology and found she had bacterial infection between her toes. They prescribed oral antibiotics and had me soak her paw in daikin’s solution once a day. After a few days, her paw looked a lot better. She began to lick at it so I’ve been wrapping it with self adhesive paw wraps. She just took her last dose of antibiotics today and after checking, her paw is red, swollen and raw. Could the bacteria have spread?
I would espect things to be much better by now; you might want to consider a recheck with them
I noticed after a walk in our field that my dogs 1 front toe has become swollen and red underneath and a little warm. Shes not limping and walking fine. Although it is very swollen. Wondering what it could be? Can’t get her into a vet till next month. Anything I can do to help, very worried.
I would try to get in sooner if possible or call them to get some antibiotics.
Treatment: apply balm to pad once or twice daily* to help restore the proper moisture to the pad.Checked the paws frequently and keep the pads clean and dry until healed. If there is an infection, apply an antibiotic cream (prescribed by a veterinarian) on a piece of gauze; keeping it clean and dry by placing a toddler’s sock over the paw and taping it securely, but not tightly, around the dog’s ankle to protect it. As long as your dog does not seem to be in pain, continue his normal activities, including walks. Callus a condition which occurs when the paw pads are subjected to tough conditions repeatedly, causing them to form a thick layer of protective cells in an effort to prevent further damage. The pads then become too hard, and more prone to drying and cracking, which makes them more vulnerable to infections as well.
My 2 year old mix had a fox tail stuck in his foot for several days and it was swollen and infected (I originally thought it was a bug bite). I got the swelling down, finally saw the foxtail and removed it. Now the area around the foxtail wound has turned black. It does not appear to be causing him any pain and its been a week or so and the black area has not gotten any larger. I am very concerned and do not have money to take him to the vet at this moment. Can you please advise?
Tough to say; it is not uncommon for skin to turn necrotic after an injury. I would monitor it closely and try and get him in if it starts getting larger
My dog had a split nail and today I noticed that the pad of his pita is swollen. I believe it’s now infected. He is Limping. What should I do for him?
I would take him in; we don’t mess around once the pad is swollen
My dog was limping for a day, now he’s no longer limping. He has swelling in his toe, which has reduced slightly, the littler bugger has taken the fur out too. He’s fine in himself, not limping, just still a little swollen.