Dog Paw Infection

A dog paw infection may be caused by different agents such as viruses, bacteria or fungi. The infection can be a consequence of a paw injury. It can be treated, but due to the fact that it is located on the paw, it may take a longer time to heal.

Causes of Paw Infection

A paw infection can be caused by different agents present in the dog's environment. The paws are particularly exposed to infections, as these get in contact with numerous substances during the day. However, a dog paw infection can be a secondary condition caused by:

  • Allergies, which will cause itchiness and the dog will lick and bite the paws, spreading the bacteria present in the saliva
  • Fleas, which will also cause itchiness
  • A paw injury that is not bandaged; the dog will lick to relieve the pain
  • Immune system problems which will cause the dog to be susceptible to different infections

A splinter that is not removed from the dog's paw may also get infected.

Symptoms of Paw Infection

The symptoms of a dog paw infection can be easily recognized:

  • The paw may be swollen
  • Foul odor of the skin
  • Visible injuries
  • There may be a pellicle of pus
  • The dog may limp
  • Skin itchiness
  • Excessive licking, chewing or biting of the paws
  • Sneezing, skin rashes, if the dog has allergies
  • Lethargy
  • Whining and crying when you touch the paws

Diagnosing a Paw Infection

A paw infection can be diagnosed by examining the paws. The vet will perform a skin scraping test to determine the type of infectious agents that affect the dog's paw. The vet may also perform a radiograph to see if there are no other more severe internal problems affecting the paw. Blood tests may also be performed to detect if the infection has entered the blood.

Treating a Paw Infection

The treatment for the paw infection will depend on how severe the condition is.

If the infection is at an incipient phase and there is no pus forming, the vet may recommend only topical ointments that can remove the bacteria, viruses or fungi causing the paw infection. If the infection is more advanced, the treatment will include oral antibiotics. The antibiotics will be prescribed for 7 to 10 days and should be administered for this entire time, so as to prevent the dog from building up immunity to the antibiotics.

The paws should be bandaged, so that they can be protected. The dog will tend to lick the paws and the bacteria in the saliva may only aggravate the infection. The bandages should be replaced each time after the paws are treated with topical creams. If the dog bites the bandages and removes them, a lamp shade collar should be given, because this will prevent him from reaching his paws and support the healing.

If the condition is severe, the dog should be kept indoors and preferably rest for a few days, until the condition improves.