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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Best Foot Forward:  Common Pet Paw Problems

beautiful tabby cat at playA dog’s or cat’s paws do a lot of work. They not only help to get them from point A to point B, but are their main contact with the world. The paws can take the brunt of issues including allergy, infection, foreign body reaction, and pressure associated reactions. Your pet’s feet are in contact with his or her environment more than any other part of the body, making them vulnerable. Keep reading to learn more about common pet paw problems.

Pet Paw Problems due to Allergies

Many pet owners notice that their pet is constantly licking or chewing at his or her paws. There can be many reasons for this; however the most common cause is an underlying allergy. When paws are exposed to environmental substances such as grass, leaves, weeds, or chemicals they can become extremely itchy. The paws may even develop a reddish stain, if they are light in color, due to saliva exposure from licking or infection.

Signs of allergy or infections include:

  • Red stain of hair around paws
  • Patches of thickened skin, no hair, red or bleeding skin on paws, chin, or legs
  • Swollen skin with bloody, draining blisters on paws, chin, around eyes or mouth

It is always important to bring your pet in for an examination if he or she develops paw problems. Paw disease is often a complex problem where seeing a dermatologist is ultimately needed to make the right diagnosis. A veterinary dermatologist is better equipped to choose the right tests and treatment in order to resolve the condition.

Other Pet Paw Problems

There are other problems besides allergies that can cause paw problems, which is also called pododermatitis. A few that we see frequently include:

  • Demodicosis (mange mites)
  • Deep bacterial infections
  • Cancer (lymphoma)
  • Pemphigus foliaceous (an autoimmune disease)
  • Hepatocutaneous syndrome (liver failure)
  • Interdigital cysts (bloody drainage in between the toes)
  • Tumors of various kinds
  • Hyperkeratosis (inherited disorder seen from birth)
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Lupoid onychodystrophy
  • Viral papillomas (warts)
  • Lymphocytic plasmacytic pododermatitis (immune problem) – in cats

Just like having a rock in your shoe, even a small amount of swelling can be very uncomfortable. Medical or surgical therapy is often indicated depending on the diagnosis. Paw problems can be tricky to figure out and as such a common, but erroneous, practice sometimes used in veterinary medicine is to treat first then, if it doesn’t respond, try to make a diagnosis. The correct practice should always be to make a diagnosis first, using the correct diagnostic tests to pinpoint the problem, so the correct treatment or surgery is prescribed.

Your pet’s paws are very important. Helping them to put their best paw forward is essential for happiness and health and our goal and Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.