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Could it be a dog paw infection? Signs, symptoms, and treatments for these pesky, painful issues

You relish your daily walks with your dog. You both get fresh air and exercise, and it’s fun to see your dog explore and discover the world. Afterward, you and your pup may engage in a cozy snuggle session on the couch.

Dogs also need to walk to get food and water and use the bathroom outside. It’s essential to keep your pup’s paws in tip-top shape so they can continue to move around and bond with you.

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If one or more of your dog’s paws get infected, mobility is tricky, painful, and sometimes impossible. As a pet parent, the last thing you want is to see your fur baby in pain. Understanding the causes, signs, and treatment for a dog paw infection can ensure your pet gets the proper care. Early detection and treatment can prevent the condition from getting worse. Here’s what you need to know.

dog paws on a wood slab

What causes a dog paw infection? Knowledge can aid in the prevention of this condition.

Several factors can cause a paw infection. Here are a few common ones.

  • Allergies leading to a secondary infection. Researchers say pups may have an allergic reaction to food that could trigger a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.
  • Bacteria or fungus. Bacteria or fungus can cause deep paw infections, resulting in swelling and discharge.
  • Excessive licking. When a pup’s paws get irritated, such as from walking on sidewalk salt, they may try to self-soothe by licking. The opposite can happen, though. All that licking can exacerbate the issue and result in an infection.
  • Parasites. Mange mites, soil nematodes, and hookworms can all cause paw infections.

A closeup of a white dog licking his paw

What are the symptoms of a paw infection in dogs? 

Early detection can help get your dog on the mend faster. Look out for these symptoms of infections:

a black dog paw extended

When should I see a vet? Are dog paw infections something to be concerned about?

The treatment for paw infection will depend on the underlying cause, and a vet is the best person to diagnose that. They may need to biopsy the area. If you notice signs of an infection, it’s best to see the vet right away to rule out any other potential issues and ensure your dog gets the best treatment for their specific condition.

by Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz / Shutterstock

How are dog paw infections treated? Can I treat the infection at home?

Treatment varies depending on the reason for the infection. Some common ways to help a dog work through a paw infection include:

  • Antibiotics or anti-fungal medication
  • A warm-water soak with an antibiotic solution mixed in as applicable
  • Ointment as prescribed by the vet
  • Bandaging the affected area

Most dogs with a paw infection will heal with the proper treatment.

How can I prevent dog paw infections? I don’t want to see my dog in pain.

It’s cliché but true: Prevention is the best medicine. While you can’t protect your dog from everything, you can take some steps to mitigate the risk of paw infection.

  • Booties. Wearing booties in the winter can protect your pet’s paw pads from the elements and salt, preventing excessive licking.
  • Good hygiene. Wiping paws down with pet-safe wipes and regular baths can wash away irritants.
  • Trim nails. Bacteria and parasites can latch onto overgrown nails and cause infections. Keep nails short.
  • Check-ups. Did you miss a spot? Inspect your pet’s paws regularly to ensure there isn’t any dirt or salt in between them. Also, keep an eye out for open wounds, which can get infected if they are not covered and treated with ointment as prescribed by your vet.

Seeing your pup in pain is never any fun. Sometimes a dog will come down with a paw infection. These infections can make it hard to get around and do the activities they need to do, such as eating, and love to do, like playing with you. You’ll want to keep an eye out for excessive licking, discharge or pus, redness, bleeding, or swelling. All of these symptoms could indicate a paw infection. It’s best to call the vet right away if you suspect a paw infection. The treatment will depend on the reason, which can be anything from a fungus to a parasite. Common ways to treat an infection include medication, soaking the paw in warm water, ointment, and bandaging the foot to prevent the issue from getting worse. Investing in dog booties and regular paw hygiene can help protect your pooch from infection.

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