How to treat a swollen paw

Updated February 21, 2017

If your pet's paws show signs of swelling, examine the area and determine the cause. In most cases, you can treat a swollen paw at home.

Determine the severity. Swelling of your pet's paw is not necessarily indicative of a serious problem. Generally, the swelling will subside in a few days. If it doesn't or if the foot is hot to the touch, seems infected and seems painful, call your vet at once. Antibiotics may be in order.

Remove an object from the paw. If the swelling was the result of an object, such as a thorn, consider soaking it. Vets recommend treating the swollen paw with a mixture of several tablespoons of a 2% antiseptic and 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of cold water. Soak for about 12 minutes, 3 times a day to ward off infection and relieve soreness.

Consider allergies. As with humans, if your pet is stung by a bee or other insect, the paw can swell and may become infected. Consult your vet about giving your cat or dog an antihistamine.

Lose fur. If the swelling is accompanied by fur loss, red mange could be the culprit. Mites tunnel into your pet's skin causing soreness and tenderness. Mange is difficult to treat, but feeding your pet "high test" food may be helpful. Supplementing your cat or dog's diet with fatty-acid also is recommended.

Schedule an appointment with the vet if the swollen paw looks infected. Chances are the wound will require lancing, cleaning and prescription medicine.


Ice packs applied for 5 minutes at the start of the swelling and at three-hour intervals thereafter are effective. If your pet doesn't like getting its feet wet, saturate a cloth with the antiseptic solution and place it on the swelling for about 8 minutes. Repeat several times throughout the day. Your dog should only be given buffered aspirin. Regular aspirin could prove fatal. Never give your pet outdated medicine.


Call your vet if you notice that: multiple paws are inflamed; your pet has recently been in an altercation; the swollen area is squishy; your cat or dog is having difficulty getting around; your pet has been limping; more than one limb is dragging or in a clumsy position; its toes, feet or legs are inflamed; some of your cat or dog's fur is patchy; your pet licks or bites its feet; nails appear broken or cracked and exhibit signs of bleeding; paw pads are cut or blistered and show signs of burns and growths; or your pet experiences tenderness when shifting positions.

Things You'll Need

  • Antiseptic
  • Cold water
  • Cloth
  • Fatty-acid supplement
  • Buffered aspirin
  • Premium pet food
  • Ice
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