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