Wholesome Canine Paws Vs Unhealthy, And How To Inform Them Aside

healthy dog paws vs unhealthy

As a canine proprietor it’s pure to be involved about all features of their well being, and this consists of the distinction between wholesome canine paws vs unhealthy. Canines’ toes don’t have anything between them and the bottom to guard them, so they’re weak to break. And when a canine’s paws are injured or diseased, it’s practically inconceivable for them to proceed shifting round in a pain-free manner. Illnesses, parasites, allergy symptoms and accidents can all set off paw issues, and there’s loads of overlap between their signs. Right here’s tips on how to inform the distinction between a wholesome canine paw and an unhealthy canine paw, and what to do while you spot indicators of bother.


What do wholesome canine paws seem like?

Let’s begin with what you’re searching for in wholesome canine paws. Puppies are born with splendidly gentle and squashy paw pads, however the pores and skin masking them step by step will get thicker and rougher with use. This variation means they’re much less more likely to be reduce or broken by strolling on tough terrain. It additionally offers your pet extra traction on clean surfaces. Even if canine stroll round with nothing between their toes and the bottom, wholesome paws are very clear. Actually they’ve far fewer micro organism on them than the soles of our personal sneakers!

The fur in your canine’s toes needs to be even, clear and dry, with none bald spots, and the pores and skin beneath needs to be clean and supple. The nails needs to be quick sufficient that they don’t contact the bottom. When your canine stands and strikes round, every paw ought to bear its justifiable share of their weight evenly and comfortably.

Wholesome canine paws do have a particular odor, which has similarities to corn chips or popcorn. This odor comes from innocent micro organism dwelling on their pores and skin, and most canine house owners discover it inoffensive. Wholesome paws may sweat sometimes, both as a result of sizzling climate or stress (for instance leaving sweaty paw prints on the veterinarian’s examination desk).

healthy dog paws vs unhealthy

Causes of paw issues

Now let’s flip to wholesome canine paws vs unhealthy paws, and the way the sickly ones measure up. The causes of unhealthy paws fall into seven classes:

  • Immunological
  • Parasitic
  • Acquired
  • Metabolic
  • Infectious
  • Cancerous
  • Inherited


Immunological paw circumstances are issues like vasculitis, which suggests irritation of the blood vessels, allergy symptoms, and atopic dermatitis, which is itchy, flaky, dry and cracked pores and skin. Each issues are brought on by your canine’s immune system launching an inappropriate response the place it isn’t wanted. The paws are the most typical website for atopic dermatitis lesions on canine, and a few breeds, like Labradors, are extra susceptible to growing them than common.


A number of parasites might be enemies of fine paw well being. Ticks are infamous for hiding out between canine’ toes or within the cavity between their metacarpal paw pad and digital paw pads ( a.okay.a. the massive pad and the toe beans!). Canines with a flea chew allergy may additionally undergo significantly from flea bites to their toes, as a result of being accessible to chew them means they’re slower to heal. Some are paw parasites are even invisible – for instance Demodex mites, which reside deep down contained in the hair follicle.


Acquired issues that may afflict beforehand wholesome canine paws are issues like:

  • Cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Fracture
  • Burns
  • Chemical harm from substances like rock salt
  • Embedded objects like thorns or glass
  • Overgrown or cut up nails

In different phrases, occasions that may principally be described as accidents. Taken all collectively, this class accounts for lots of canine experiences with unhealthy toes.


‘Metabolic’ means referring to the chemical processes which go on inside a canine’s physique. Some abnormalities or failures of those processes can signs in canine’ paws. For instance, late stage liver failure causes thickened paw pads which crack and ulcerate simply. Since canine instinctively masks the ache from inner issues for so long as doable, exterior signs like visibly unhealthy paws might be one of many first indicators an proprietor spots.


Infectious paw illnesses are are normally secondary to a different drawback, like atopic dermatitis, or a reduce on the paw pads. When the pores and skin barrier is damaged, illness inflicting pathogens like fungi and micro organism are capable of enter the foot, and trigger deep-rooted infections.


Canines can develop cancerous tumors virtually wherever, together with on their toes. Some cancers are even paw-specific, corresponding to nail mattress squamous cell carcinoma. Most cancers is extra widespread in giant canine breeds like Labradors, Commonplace Poodles and Rottweilers.


Lastly, there’s a small and comparatively uncommon group of genetic issues that are characterised by diseased paw pads. These embrace congenital cornification dysfunction and familial paw pad hyperkeratosis. In each of those circumstances, canine’ paws are dry and scaly, and the pores and skin cells proliferate too rapidly, inflicting the pads to turn into thick and cracked. The nails are normally deformed too.

The best way to spot poor paw well being

Appropriately diagnosing the various kinds of unhealthy canine paw is notoriously tough. The signs all overlap, it doesn’t matter what the underlying trigger. So, it’s essential to by no means try to make your personal prognosis. All the time go to a vet for those who see any of the next signs affecting your canine’s toes:

  • Irritation or swelling
  • Damaged pores and skin, together with cuts, lesions, ulcers and blisters, no matter whether or not it’s bleeding
  • Dry or cracked pads
  • Hair loss
  • Fur which seems moist on a regular basis
  • Modifications within the coloration of the pores and skin, together with redness, or depigmentation of the pads
  • Modifications within the texture of the pores and skin, together with thickening or flakiness
  • Limping, or avoiding bearing their weight on a particular paw or paws
  • Aggressively or obsessively licking or chewing their toes
  • Lumps, bumps, growths, cysts or nodules wherever on the foot
  • A foul odor or improve in odor
  • Cracked or torn nails

Your vet will take a full medical historical past, ask you a number of questions, and probably conduct exams such a pores and skin scraping, or a biopsy. They will even provide help to plan essentially the most acceptable course of remedy, which can rely upon the underlying trigger.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Defending your canine’s paws

On the subject of sustaining wholesome paws vs unhealthy, there’s one outdated adage which is especially apt: prevention is healthier than a remedy. In different phrases, it’s higher to maintain your canine’s toes match within the first place, than neglect them and need to nurse them again to well being. Therapeutic unhealthy canine toes is usually difficult, as a result of they’re by no means out of use. Right here’s how preserve your canine’s paws nicely:

  • Clear and dry them after walks.
  • Trim the fur between their toes to forestall it trapping moisture or irritating the pores and skin.
  • Don’t let your canine stroll on sizzling sidewalks in summer time or salted sidewalks in winter with out boots.
  • Trim their nails usually.
  • Test the paw pads, between the toes, and beneath the fur usually for early indicators of sickness.

Wholesome canine paws vs unhealthy – abstract

When a physique half is in fixed use, and in direct contact with many various surfaces, it’s essential to take care of it. Which is why it’s essential to have the ability to acknowledge the distinction between wholesome canine paws and unhealthy ones. Test your pup’s toes incessantly, and report any modifications in them, or indicators that they’re making your pet uncomfortable, to your vet. Don’t try to diagnose the reason for unhealthy toes your self, because the methods by which the various doable causes can current themselves are solely subtly completely different.

The Labrador Website Founder

Pippa Mattinson is one of the best promoting writer of The Completely satisfied Pet Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Selecting The Excellent Pet, and Whole Recall.

She can be the founding father of the Gundog Belief and the Dogsnet On-line Coaching Program 

Pippa’s on-line coaching programs had been launched in 2019 and yow will discover the newest course dates on the Dogsnet web site

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