Pinpointing Paw Problems in Pets

A dog laying on the grass

We love our pets, and it’s only natural that we would be worried when something is wrong with any of their moving parts, including their sweet little (or big) paws. Paws can have a lot of normal variations, but there certainly are paw problems in pets that warrant concern. Your team at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital is here to help discern which are no big deal and which require medical attention. 

When to be Worried

Paws can vary widely from pet to pet – one of the most important things that you can do to understand what is worrisome in your particular pet is to pay attention! Do you know what is normal for your pet? Do they have dewclaws? How do the paw pads appear normally? Has that little bump been there forever or did it just pop up? Is that frito smell okay? Knowing the answer to these questions can help set your mind at ease. 

Deviation from normal, however, is certainly cause for concern. Give us a call if;

  • Your pet is limping
  • There is new redness or swelling
  • Your pet is licking or paying a lot of attention to a paw
  • There is drainage, bleeding, or other discharge
  • Your pet’s paws seem painful to the touch
  • There is a cut or other wound
  • Your pet’s toe nail(s) appear abnormal or broken
  •  There is a growth of some kind

Many different issues can lead to pet paw problems. Traumatic injuries like cuts and burns can happen as well as traumatically broken toe nails. Paws are not immune, either, from warts, cysts, or tumors or even degenerative changes like arthritis.

Allergic skin disease is a common occurance amongst pet patients and food or environmental allergies can lead to pododermatitis. Infection with things like bacteria, yeast, or skin mites can occur secondary to this inflammation or as a primary problem. 

There are certainly some less common paw issues that also raise concern. Autoimmune issues such as lupoid onychodystrophy or systemic problems such as severe liver disease can also manifest as paw trouble.

Preventing Paw Problems in Pets

Not all paw problems in pets are entirely avoidable, but there are some things that pet owners can do to help put their pal’s best paw forward. Be sure to:

Keep things short — Overgrown nails change the dynamics of the paw. Alteration in this normal movement can lead to pain and irritation. Overgrown toenails might also snag and break and, left unaddressed, grow into the paw pad, leading to pain and infection. Keeping your pet’s nails appropriately trimmed is a great way to steer clear of many issues. 

Good grooming— Routing grooming can help your pet’s paws stay healthy, too.  By trimming any long hair on the paws, the trapping of allergens and irritants against the skin can be prevented. Long paw hair can also reduce traction, leading to injury. Also consider wiping your pet’s paws regularly to help remove potential irritants.

Protect those paws — Be careful when walking your pet on hot, hard, or potentially abrasive surfaces such as asphalt or metal. If you aren’t able to hold your hand to the surface for at least 10 seconds, your pet should not be walking on it. Remember that rocks, gravel, and ice can be hard on paws, too. Choose  paw-friendly surfaces like grass when able and consider using protective booties when appropriate, such as during the winter months.

Come see us — Your pet’s routine wellness examinations are a perfect time for us to examine their paws and discuss any concerns. The best time to  diagnose any kind or problem is before it becomes severe. By seeing your pet often, we are able to formulate aggressive and effective diagnostic and treatment plans for pet problems of all kinds. 

Your pet’s paws are important, and we want them to stay healthy and functional. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have concerns. Paw problems happen, but if we have anything to say about it, they won’t slow you or your pet down.