Why Is the Inside of My Dog's Paw Red?

paw image by pusti from Fotolia.com

There are many reasons why the inside of a dog's paws may become red. Itching and inflammation can cause red paws. If the dog came in contact with an allergic or irritating substance it can cause redness in the paws. Frequent licking may cause the paws to become red.

It is important to identify the source of the red paws in order to treat it.

Yeast Infection

Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast that is found on the skin of healthy dogs. Certain immune conditions can leave a dog predisposed to an infection from this yeast. It commonly affects the dog's paws because this area tends to be moist, and air circulation between the toes is poor. It can cause itching and inflammation. The dog may lick his paws to help soothe the irritation, which causes the paws to become even more red.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs as a result of a hypersensitivity reaction to a substance in the environment. Not all dogs will have this reaction. Some breeds are predisposed to certain allergens. Examples of substances that can cause an allergic contact dermatitis are rubber, wool, carpet deodorisers and dyes. This condition is common on the paws and foot pads because these areas are usually the first to come into contact with the allergen.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis can cause the paws to become red. This condition occurs when the paws come in contact with an irritating substance in the environment. This condition is different from allergic dermatitis, because in the case of irritant contact dermatitis all dogs would have a reaction to these substances. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by such things as road salt and poison ivy sap. It can lead to irritation of the paws and redness.

Inhalant Allergies

Many dogs suffer from inhalant allergies. Inhalant allergies are caused by substances in the environment such as pollen, dust mites, mould and mildew that are inhaled and cause the immune system to react. The dog's immune system releases histamine as a reaction to these substances that lead to generalised itching all over the body, including the paws. To soothe the itching, dogs may lick the paws.

Lick Granulomas

Lick granulomas are sore, inflamed spots on the paws. The paws are wet and ooze because the dog is incessantly licking them. There is no definitive cause of lick granulomas but possible culprits may include a reaction to an allergen that triggers a propensity to lick the area. Other theories suggest that the licking is stimulated by a foreign object in the paw. Licking may be a source of psychological stimulation to relieve stress caused by conditions such as separation anxiety.