A Guide to Common Dog Foot Problems

Dog foot problems are common because the pads of a dog's paw are prone to injury. Checking your dog's feet regularly for signs of injury can help identify problems such as torn or fractured nails, paw cuts, cracked paw pads and inter-digital cysts before they become serious. Here are some of the most common dog foot problems and how you can treat them.

Paw Licking, Biting and Chewing

Paw licking, biting and chewing behaviors often indicate allergies. Canine allergies can be difficult to identify, as dogs can suffer allergic reactions to a number of things. Dogs can suffer seasonal allergies in the spring and fall. They can also suffer contact allergies or allergies to pollutants like mold, dust and household cleaners.

Your vet can help you determine the cause of your dog's allergies. Sometimes, the allergen can be removed from the environment. If not, medication can help relieve your dog's allergy symptoms.

Torn Nails or Fractured Nails

Torn or fractured nails occur when your dog catches his toenail on something. Torn and fractured nails can be very painful. You should have the injured nail professionally removed by a vet. In most cases, damaged nails regrow completely; however, if the nail bed suffers severe damage, the claw may not grow back.

Paw Cuts

Dogs cover a lot of territory during their daily ramblings, so cuts on or between the paw pads are common. If the cut is small, you can treat it yourself at home. Wash it out with warm water and apply antibiotic ointment. Bandage the injury in gauze to keep your dog from licking it; you may need to use an Elizabethan collar to keep your dog from licking the cut paw.

If the cut is deep or severe, it may require veterinary treatment.

Dry, Cracked Paw Pads

Cracked paw pads can occur when the skin of your dog's paw pads becomes too dry. Your local pet supply store should carry a moisturizer designed specifically for cracked paw pads. Moisturize infrequently, however, because your dog depends on his tough, thick paw pads to protect his feet when he's walking. If the pads become too soft, walking could become painful for him.

Foreign Objects In or Between the Paw Pads

Foreign objects can become lodged in or between the pads of your dog's paw. Burrs, seeds, dried mud and matted fur are among the most common of these objects. Remove the object carefully; clip away any mats. Be carefully not to damage the skin between your dog's toes.

Interdigital Cysts

Interdigital cysts are lumps that occur between your dog's toes. Often, these lumps are benign and not painful. Your vet can remove some of the fluid from the lump to test it for malignancy.

Long Toenails

Long toenails are common, especially in dogs who aren't walked outdoors often enough. Long toenails should be kept trimmed. Trimming long toenails reduces the risk that your dog will suffer a torn or fractured nail; it also reduces the risk that he might accidentally injure another dog or person. You can trim your dog's nails at home with a dog nail clipper or human toenail clipper; or, you can have a dog groomer trim them.