Symptoms of health problems with a dog's paw

Updated November 21, 2016

All dogs, whether active or more of a couch potato, are susceptible to paw injuries. Something as simple as a splinter or as serious as a deep laceration can become a very painful ailment if left unattended. If infection sets in, medical treatment becomes more complicated and the dog runs the risk of extensive paw damage or even death. There are four easily recognisable signs of paw problems.


Swollen paws can be easy to treat if the cause is something as simple as dry and cracked pads, an insect sting or a foreign object lodged between the toes. But a paw that remains swollen and feels hot to the touch could indicate a serious infection that requires antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. If just one area of the paw appears to be swollen the dog may have a broken toe, according to


Bleeding is one of the more easy to spot symptoms of paw injury. Broken nails, particularly the dew claw, or torn paw pads can be the source of bleeding. Nails are easily snagged on everything from carpeting to curbs. While the bleeding may not be severe, the condition is very painful for the dog.

More profuse bleeding typically indicates that something has either become lodged in or torn the pad, which contains many blood vessels. According to, pet owners should never attempt to remove an object, such as broken glass, without the aid of a veterinarian because doing so could worsen the injury.


Limping or holding up a paw while standing may indicate broken bones, muscle tears or just a sore paw. If the injury is particularly distressing, the dog may whine while favouring the paw.


Seasonal irritants, like hot asphalt sidewalks in the summer and salt used to melt ice in the winter, can cause a dog's paw to become irritated or itchy, and often cause the dog to lick the paw frequently. The constant presence of saliva can further irritate the paw. Temporary bandaging may help.

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