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

Red paws, or pododermatitis in dogs, is a medical condition characterised by red, itchy, or swollen paws. It is not a specific disease, but 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

1. Injuries

If you notice that your dog’s feet are red, especially after a walk or physical activity, it is possible that your dog has stepped on a sharp object or strained on uneven terrain. Check for the presence of any foreign objects like a thorn, glass, or pin.

Extreme temperatures can also lead to swollen and inflamed paws. If your dog has walked on hot surfaces or is frost bitten in the snow, provide preliminary paw care at home to fix the red paws. However, if the condition persists, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

2. Allergies

Inflamed, swollen, and red feet may be an allergic reaction to certain allergens like food, plants, etc. If you notice that the problem is recurring, note down the times when your dog’s paws are the itchiest, the food that they have eaten, and the substances that they have come into contact with.

Next, try to eliminate the ingredients or foods that you think may have caused red paws. Try to keep your dog’s paws clean and dry to prevent any bacterial or fungal infections caused by the exposed skin. Consult your vet for antihistamine treatments.

3. Infections

Your dog’s paws come into contact with millions of bacteria and fungi every day. Bacterial and fungal infections in dog paws can cause symptoms like redness, itchiness, irritation, inflammation, discharge, moisture, lesions, ulcers, and flakey skin. If it’s a yeast infection, you will even notice a bad odour from your dog’s paws.

Check for infections between your dog’s toes and pads, and use antibacterial and antifungal paw treatments to curb the microbial growth. You can also try vet-recommended antimicrobial shampoos, powders, and creams, along with a high-nutrition diet. 

4. Parasites

Common dog parasites like fleas, ticks, mites, and worm larvae can cause skin irritations and secondary bacterial infections in your dog’s paws. Some mites, like demodex mites and sarcoptes mites, are well-known for causing pododermatitis in dogs. Those bloodsucking fleas are also nowhere behind; they can cause flea allergy dermatitis, causing red feet in dogs.

In case you notice any of these parasites on your dog causing paw infections, immediately consult your vet to treat the underlying symptoms and use a vet-approved dog flea and tick treatment to eliminate those bugs.

5. Overactivity

If your dog has red or swollen feet just after they have been playing or walking outdoors for a long time, it is possible that the overactivity and friction have caused pododermatitis. This is especially possible when your dog has overexerted on extremely hot or cold surfaces. 

If left untreated, the condition can become more painful for your dog. Moreover, always ensure that you do not overexercise your dog. And, if going out in the summer or winter, put their dog’s booties on to protect their sensitive paws.

6. Autoimmune disorders

Red feet and other skin problems may also occur as a result of autoimmune diseases. Autoimmunity is a condition in which your dog’s body cannot distinguish between normal body cells and bacteria or viruses. Therefore, the body starts attacking its own cells. Pemphigus is the most common type of autoimmune disorder in dogs. The symptoms of pemphigus in dogs include blistering of the skin in the mouth, paws, throat, etc. These blisters are filled with pus and are often painful. Thankfully, the condition can be treated with a veterinarian’s intervention.

7. Genetics & Age

Some breeds are naturally prone to developing skin conditions like red feet. This condition commonly occurs in short-coated breeds like English bulldogs, dachshunds, great Danes, Chinese Shar-Peis and boxers. On the other hand, pododermatitis is also common in some dog breeds with skin folds as they age.

How to Treat and Prevent Pododermatitis in Dogs?

If your dog is constantly licking or biting their paws and has red and swollen feet, it is probably suffering from pododermatitis. Fortunately, your dog’s red feet can be treated by keeping their paws clean and healthy. Here are some effective tips to control pododermatitis in dogs.

  • Trim your dog’s nails regularly, as long nails can put extra pressure on their paws.
  • Wash your dog’s paws after every outdoor visit, as their paws can carry dirt along with bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause infections.
  • Protect your dog’s paws with paw booties in extreme weather conditions and keep their walks shorter.
  • Keep your dogs free from parasites using an effective dog flea and tick treatment to prevent red feet conditions caused by parasites.
  • Trim your dog’s paw fur regularly, especially if it grows out past their paw pads. The fur near the paw pads can become a home for microbes.
  • Consult your vet for antibiotics and antifungals for the treatment of secondary skin infections causing pododermatitis.