7 Reasons Why Your Dog’s Feet Are Red and How to Treat Them

Author : thomousmiller thomous | Published On : 03 Jul 2024

Red paws, or pododermatitis in dogs, is a medical condition characterized by red, itchy, or swollen paws. It is not a specific disease but rather a condition that may occur as a result of an underlying medical problem. Here are 7 reasons that may cause red feet in dogs and how you can treat them.

Common Causes of Red Paws in Dogs

7 Reasons Why Your Dog’s Feet Are Red and How to Treat Them 

1. Injuries

If your dog's feet appear red, particularly following a walk or physical activity, it may have stepped on a sharp object or strained itself on uneven ground. Inspect the paws for any foreign objects such as thorns, glass, or pins. 

Extreme temperatures can also cause swelling and inflammation. If your dog has walked on hot surfaces or suffered frostbite in the snow, administer basic paw care at home to address the redness. If the condition continues, be sure to contact your veterinarian.

2. Allergies

Swollen, inflamed, and red feet in dogs may be due to an allergic reaction to certain allergens such as food or plants. If the issue persists, track when your dog's paws are most itchy, what they have eaten, and what substances they have come into contact with.

Then, try to eliminate the suspected ingredients or foods that might be causing the red paws. Keep your dog's paws clean and dry to avoid bacterial or fungal infections on the exposed skin. Consult your vet for antihistamine treatments.

3. Infections

Your dog's paws encounter countless bacteria and fungi daily. Infections in their paws can lead to redness, itchiness, irritation, inflammation, discharge, moisture, lesions, ulcers, and flaky skin. A yeast infection might also cause a foul odor from the paws.

Examine your dog's toes and pads for signs of infection, and use antibacterial and antifungal treatments to control microbial growth. Additionally, consider using vet-recommended antimicrobial shampoos, powders, and creams, and ensure your dog has a high-nutrition diet.

4. Parasites

Common dog parasites, such as fleas, ticks, mites, and worm larvae, can lead to skin irritations and secondary bacterial infections in your dog’s paws. Mites like demodex and sarcoptes are particularly known for causing pododermatitis in dogs. Fleas, notorious for causing flea allergy dermatitis, can also result in red, irritated feet in dogs.

If you observe any of these parasites causing paw infections in your dog, consult your vet promptly to address the underlying symptoms and use a vet-approved flea and tick treatment to eliminate the pests.

5. Overactivity

If your dog’s feet become red or swollen after prolonged outdoor activity, they may have developed pododermatitis due to overactivity and friction. This condition is particularly likely if your dog has overexerted on very hot or cold surfaces.

If untreated, pododermatitis can cause increased discomfort for your dog. To prevent this, avoid overexercising your dog and consider using dog booties to protect their sensitive paws during extreme weather conditions.

6. Autoimmune disorders

Red feet and other skin issues can also be caused by autoimmune diseases. Autoimmunity occurs when a dog's immune system cannot differentiate between healthy body cells and harmful invaders like bacteria or viruses, leading to the body attacking its own cells. Pemphigus is the most prevalent autoimmune disorder in dogs, characterized by blistering on the skin of the mouth, paws, throat, and other areas. These blisters are filled with pus and can be quite painful. Fortunately, with veterinary care, this condition is treatable.

7. Genetics & Age

Certain dog breeds have a natural predisposition to skin issues such as red feet. This tendency is frequently observed in breeds with short coats, including English Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Great Danes, Chinese Shar-Peis, and Boxers. Additionally, pododermatitis is prevalent among breeds with skin folds as they mature.