A dog's itching paw is typical, leading to excessive biting, licking, and scratching, common signs of underlying health conditions.
Problems such as allergies and infections are big culprits to a dog's itchy paws, and if not diagnosed or treated early, they could lead to severe health complications.
Fortunately for dog owners, there is adequate information on the symptoms, causes, treatments, and home remedies to help relieve their furry friend of paw misery.
Read on for further enlightenment…
Does my dog have itchy paws?
It isn't normal for dogs to lick their paws excessively and frequently. Often it's because of itchiness caused by common or underlying health issues.
Dog owners are accustomed to checking their dog's paws occasionally, usually during washing or trimming of the dog's paws, and this compromises the dog's paw health and comfort.
Dogs are pretty obvious when itching as they tend to scratch, lick or rub the part against the ground. The causes of itching are different, and so are their symptoms.
Symptoms of itchy paws are primarily subtle, bet here are some common signs to keep an eye out for:
- Constant licking, chewing, or biting at paws
- Blistered or discoloured pads
- Cut, dryness, or tear on the pad
- Paws that are red and irritated
- Limping or lameness
- Abnormal paw odour
- Swelling or redness of paw
- Torn or damaged nails
Why is my dog itching their paws?
Several factors cause itchy paws for dogs. It could be an injury, parasites, allergies, or further secondary infections.
Below are some possibilities causing your pup's paws to itch:
Allergies are a common cause of itchiness but are often shrugged off or mistaken as a habit.
They develop as skin problems with varied causes, including food, seasonal and environmental allergies affecting a large number of dogs.
- Red, itchy paws (often between the toes)
- Constant or excessive biting and licking at paws
- Swollen or inflamed paws
- Discoloration (browning) of the fur/nails from saliva
For seasonal allergies (such as pollen, dust, grass, and dust mites), the dog will lick or scratch excessively during the spring or fall, but if it becomes chronic and possibly all-year-round, food allergies are most likely to be at play.
Food ingredients like dairy, corn, wheat, chicken, pork, soy, and beef are common allergy triggers, artificial additives, and preservatives.
Early diagnosis and treatment will see your dog escape the risk of developing yeast or bacterial infections, so it is vital to take them for checkups at the first signs of allergies.
Suppose food allergies are suspected to be possible triggers. In that case, a vet may recommend an elimination diet of removing some food ingredients and adding them back slowly to gauge the food allergen.
They may prescribe topical products or antihistamines to relieve the dog's itching and a hydrocortisone spray or cream for inflammation.
Additionally, ensure the dog's paws are clean and dry, wiping them after outdoor activity or making them wear boots for chemical and grass triggers.
An Elizabethan collar will help discourage the dog from excessive licking and avoid further damages such as the paw skin breaking, bleeding, or swelling.
- Fungal skin infections
Itching, licking, and biting due to allergies may lead to paw yeast infections, as do situations that increase moisture between the dog's paw pads.
These infections thrive in moist environments and are prone to dogs living in such areas or who are frequent swimmers.
Yeast usually lives on the skin without causing harm to their hosts, but an overgrowth due to immune system impairment results in various symptoms.
Overuse of antibiotics also poses risks of yeast infections by imbalancing the gut and providing a suitable environment for yeasts to thrive.
- Pungent smell or odour
- Redness and swelling of paws
- Excessive itching
- Red or swollen nail beds
- Darkened or discoloured nails
- Discoloured paw hair and between toes
Chronic infections may result from a dietary allergen, meaning at the first signs of yeast infections, contact your vet.
The diagnosis of yeast infections is simple, and various effective antifungal medications and products are available.
Hydrocortisone products with active ingredients to reduce inflammation and chlorhexidine, a disinfectant, can be prescribed to help treat the dog's itching paws.
Antifungal shampoos, creams, baths, and wipes are also effective. Trimming a dog's nails and hair around their paws and drying them off after baths or swimming also helps.
- Bacterial skin infections
Because of allergies or hormonal disorders, dogs will itch and lick their paws, making it easier for bacterial growth.
- Itchy irritated paws
- Red and inflamed paws
- Excessive licking and biting
- Greasy discharge
- Pain and Odour
- Lameness or limping
Excessive licking over time due to allergies or fungi as injuries and foreign objects (like foxtails, wood, nail, or glass) in the paws causes the dog's skin to break, letting in bacteria through the openings.
A vet should address suspicions of bacterial infection on your dog's paws immediately to avoid secondary issues.
For foreign bodies, use a tweezer to remove them gently but if you can't do it on your own, contact your vet for professional intervention.
Clean the paw by soaking it in warm salty water for several minutes as salt is a soothing, cleansing, and healing agent.
Gently dry the paw and use an antiseptic or antibacterial spray/ointment/cream on the affected area. Ensure to use a bandage or clean cloth to cover the affected paw.
For severe infections, a vet may prescribe antibiotics such as clindamycin, lincomycin, and erythromycin.
Fleas, ticks, and mites are a primary concern for a dog's itchy paws, and most infested dogs will excessively lick, bite and scratch themselves in the hope of getting rid of them.
Mostly, mites can't be seen with the naked eye and require magnification by a vet. Examples are Demodex mites and harvest mites.
Ticks suck the dog's blood and may lead to more severe tick-borne infections if not handled in time. Also, they are prone on the dog's neck, ears and armpits.
- Severe itching
- Hair loss on the paw pads
- Excessive licking or scratching
- Red, painful, and swollen paws
- Crusting, bleeding, or oozing lesions
It is essential to always contact a vet on the first unusual signs of paw health issues.
Depending on the parasite, a vet may prescribe monthly preventative medications for the dog.
In the case of a tick, vets may use a tick twister or stick to remove the whole of it, including its head. Avoid using a tweezer as it may not entirely remove its head and lead to complications.
Oral medications can be administered to eliminate internal infestations and external topical solutions for the dog's itchy skin. The vet may also give steroids and oral antibiotics.
What can I do if my dog's paws are itchy?
Pet owners are often obliged to give extra attention to a dog's nutrition, daily activities, and environment to keep them out of paw itching risks.
Untreated conditions can make dogs develop aggressive behaviours and be unsociable towards other pets and people.
Here are some tips to keep the dog's paw health on track:
- Change dog walking routines to avoid exposing the dog to more allergic reactions
- Regularly clean and dry your dog's paws ensuring to wipe them after outdoor activities
- Regular baths using shampoos with soothing ingredients like aloe vera helps a great deal
- Add natural dietary supplements to improve the dog's diet and paw health
- Ensure regular checkups by a vet and follow medical plans as prescribed
What can I place on my dog's paws for itching?
There are a couple of natural ingredients to use as home remedies to relieve your pet's itchy paws, such as:
It has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties to help reduce swelling and itching on a dog's paw. To administer, put a tablespoon or two into a spray bottle of a maximum of two cups of water and sprinkle it on the dog's paw, then give it time to dry.
Alternatively, mix a few handfuls of baking soda in a container, mix thoroughly and soak the dog's paws in the solution.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Made of antibacterial and antifungal qualities, it is versatile and can be used internally and topically.
For usage, mix the apple cider and water to a 50:50 ratio solution for a perfect paw soak. Also, you can put the lotion in a spray bottle for efficiency.
It has numerous health benefits for dogs with itchy and dry paws. It is safe to apply on the dog's paws for deep moisturization.
In a cup of water, add about 5-10 drops of oil and massage well into your pet's skin anytime it looks dry, and wipe the excess oil off its coat after you're done.
Olive oil can be applied daily until the dog's paws improve, and occasional treatments are used to keep its paws moisturised.
Oatmeal is also perfect for itching and inflamed paws. Mix oatmeal until milky in warm water and one or two handfuls in a container for washing the dog's paws.
Alternatively, add two tablespoonfuls to a spray container and spray onto the dog's paws. Grind the oatmeals into powder form or buy ready-made ones.
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Itching is often uncomfortable, annoying, and distracting for humans and dogs.
Many factors cause dog paws to itch, and each has different treatment options, but it is essential to consult a vet before giving any medication to your pup.
Dogs are unique, and so are their health requirements meaning what works for someone's dog may not automatically work for yours.
Using wrong medications can lead to severe health risks, so a dog owner needs to be extra careful when dealing with itchy paws and their causes.