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Here’s how to treat a dog with itchy paws, starting with finding the cause of paw discomfort

Causes and solutions for dog paw infections

A Husky puppy lies on a blanket and licks his paws
Hyperset / Adobe Stock

Whether you’re a person or a pup, itching can be distracting, uncomfortable, and downright annoying. That’s why it’s easy to relate to your dog’s frustration when dealing with itchy paws. Narrowing down what’s causing dog paw infections and itches can be tricky from observation alone, so it may take some trial and error before you find some relief for your buddy. Once you do, though, you’ll be so glad!

Don’t be afraid to call your local veterinarian if you’re having trouble figuring out what’s behind your pup’s paw irritation. They’ll get to the root of the problem before you know it and have plenty of suggestions to get you started. Until then, here’s what you’ll want to know about dogs with itchy paws.

Causes of dogs with itchy paws, from allergies to infections and more

Though itching, licking, and biting are all symptoms of skin discomfort, it’s not always easy to tell what’s going on. Here, we’ll break down a few of the main causes of paw irritation so you can help figure out what’s up with your best bud.

Dog paw infections are more common than you might think

Yeast infections occur when the naturally occurring yeast on a dog’s body begins to overpopulate. It works the very same with people! According to Pawlicy Advisor, this can be due to allergies, moisture buildup, or bacterial infections. Luckily, it’s not life-threatening, but it can cause several distressing symptoms for your pup. These symptoms include:

  • itching
  • inflammation
  • dry, flaky skin
  • discoloration around the base of the nail (via betterpet)
  • chewing and licking at their paws
  • a pungent, yeasty odor

Allergies are common triggers of paw irritation

If you notice your pup scratching their paws more than usual, allergies could be the culprit. They can be tricky to hone in on, though, as allergies can come from food, nature, or even products in your home. Keep an eye out to see whether your pet’s paw symptoms come at a certain time, such as after a walk or after bath time.

Good Hope Animal Hospital notes that allergies can manifest as a yeast infection or other skin conditions, so you may not see stereotypical red, swollen skin. Your vet will be the best option to help identify allergies as the main cause of the discomfort and to decide how to treat those allergies. Feeding your pup local honey is just one homeopathic option to try!

Dry paw pads can make for more than flaky skin

In some cases, your four-legged friend may be licking their paws due to dryness and peeling. Whether this occurs from heat, friction from long walks, or even normal wear and tear, it’s important to help your dog before your they chew or lick them too much. Open skin is also a breeding ground for infection, so don’t wait to treat cracked paws. We’ll let you know below what you need to treat these conditions, so keep reading.

Dirt and moisture seem harmless but can cause a lot of damage

Sometimes, a lack of consistent paw hygiene can cause a buildup of sweat, dirt, and all that gross stuff. As you can imagine, this gets uncomfortable, so it’s no wonder why dogs may start licking and chewing their feet when this happens. Luckily, the solutions for dirty paws are simple, so these symptoms are easily avoidable.

A close-up of a white dog licking his paw
juserdiuk / Adobe Stock

How to treat itchy dog paws, no matter what may have caused them

No matter what’s behind your dog’s discomfort, there’s something you can do about it. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for advice if you’re not sure where to go, but here are some places to start.

Paw balm can soothe irritated paw pads

To treat dry and cracked paws that aren’t causing significant problems, a number of paw balms and ointments will do the trick. There are tons of paw balms available on Amazon and in pet stores, including the ever-popular Musher’s Secret, and environmentally friendly, vegan options like Paw Soother.

Practice good paw hygiene with your furry friend

Simple habits like washing paws and maintaining grooming can go a long way toward preventing skin conditions and discomfort. Keeping paw fur trimmed will prevent your pup from picking up unwanted items while out and about, and items like the Paw Plunger make washing your dog’s paws as easy (and mess-free) as possible.

Treat allergies as soon as possible

If you suspect allergies are behind your dog’s itchy paws and infections, the most helpful thing you can do is find the cause of the irritation. This will be a process of elimination! It may involve changing your dog’s diet, environment, or medications, though you shouldn’t change your pet’s medicine before checking in with your vet. Steroids and antihistamines can help battle allergies, but skin testing and further treatments may be available through your veterinarian.

Medicated products can be a major help

To effectively treat fungal and yeast infections, you’ll need to enlist the help of some medicated products. If your veterinarian does not prescribe a specific medication, look for ingredients like miconazole and chlorhexidine in the sprays and shampoos you choose. Plenty of hygienic treatment wipes, anti-fungal shampoos, and medicated moisturizing sprays for pets might do the trick.

Oral medications

If your dog’s yeast infection, allergies, or dryness does not improve enough with over-the-counter products, visit your veterinarian for some advice. They will be able to give your buddy a thorough look-over and prescribe the most appropriate medication for Fido’s skin.

Husky dog mix licks paw
KPhrom / Shutterstock

How to prevent dog paw infections and itchy paws

You may have heard it said that prevention is the best medicine, and that can certainly be true with chronic issues like paw discomfort. Itching the paws can cause a snowball effect of irritation and symptoms, so it’s a good idea to avoid triggers of paw itchiness once you know what they are. If you haven’t found a trigger for your pup, though, you can do a few things to keep your buddy’s paws protected.

Invest in booties for your dog to wear outside

Your four-legged friend might not like the idea of wearing shoes or booties, but they can sometimes be necessary to keep paws protected from allergens or the elements. You can help your dog get used to the new accessories by introducing the booties for a few minutes at a time, then slowly working your way up.

Keep up with your pooch’s perfect grooming schedule

Grooming is a lot more than a simple bath and a haircut! Experienced dog groomers will also clean up your pup’s paws, which will help in more ways than one. Trimming the hair between the paw pads will give your dog more traction on the ground, prevent dirt and moisture from getting stuck in their paws, and prevent painful mats from forming.

At home, you should get in the habit of regular paw washes, or at least checking their paws for anything irritating. It might take a while to make a routine out of it, but once you do it will feel like second nature.

Whatever is behind your dog’s itchy paws, you can do plenty about it. Even better, most of these remedies are available over the counter and affordable, so you won’t have to shell out a ton to treat your dog’s paw infections or allergies. Even if you’re not sure about intense treatment, there’s no harm in trying out a medicated wipe or simple paw wash, so what are you waiting for?

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Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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