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Why Is My Dog’s Paw Pad Swollen?

March 31, 2023

If you notice that your dog’s paw pads are swollen, it could be a sign of something serious. But before you panic and rush your pup to the vet, it’s important to determine if there is an underlying medical problem causing those puffy paws. 

Read on as a local vet talks about some common causes of swollen paw pads in dogs.

A Splinter

Splinters can be painful, but they’re also dangerous if they cause an infection. Dogs are especially prone to splinter injuries because of the rough surfaces they walk on. Splinters can become infected, and if they’re not removed correctly, they can cause serious damage to your dog’s paw pads. 


If you notice that your dog’s paws are swollen, especially if they’re hot to the touch and appear red or irritated, they may have an infection. In this case, it’s important to take action quickly to ensure that your dog gets the treatment they need.

Bacterial or fungal infections can affect your dog’s paws and lead to swelling and discomfort. Unfortunately, both types are common in dogs. Symptoms of bacterial infections include:

  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Redness 
  • Pain

Fungal infections may also cause inflammation, but they’re more likely to be associated with itching than with pain or swelling.

Both kinds of infections can spread from dog to dog through direct contact with an infected animal or its feces or urine. However, fungal infections tend to be transferred more easily than bacterial ones because they don’t require direct contact between two animals for transmission (one animal can pick up spores from the environment).

If you notice that your dog’s paw has swollen overnight or within 24 hours, this could mean that he has an infection or some other condition that requires immediate treatment.

Underlying Medical Problems

So what kinds of underlying medical problems can cause a dog’s paw pads to swell up? Arthritis can affect the joints in your dog’s paws, causing pain and inflammation.  If your dog has arthritis, it’s likely that he’ll start limping on one or more of his paws. 

Other medical problems that can cause pain and swelling in a dog’s paws include: 

  • Tumors (cancerous or benign) 
  • Diabetes 
  • Injuries 
  • Allergies  
  • Poisoning  
  • Inflammatory diseases (such as lupus)   

Things to Consider

If your dog isn’t limping or showing other signs of pain but his or her paw pads are swollen, call your veterinarian just to be sure.

Our Advice on Why Your Dog’s Paw Pad Swollen in 2024

Are there any home remedies or first-aid measures that dog owners can safely apply to help alleviate minor paw pad swelling?

For minor paw pad swelling in dogs, owners can safely apply some first-aid measures at home. Gently cleaning the paw with mild soap and cool water can remove irritants. Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the swollen area for short periods can reduce inflammation and discomfort. Keeping the dog’s activity level low to avoid further irritation is also advisable. However, if swelling persists or worsens, or if the dog shows signs of pain, a veterinary consultation is essential to rule out more serious conditions.

How long does it typically take for a dog’s swollen paw pads to heal, and what factors can influence the recovery time?

The healing time for a dog’s swollen paw pads can vary, typically ranging from a few days to several weeks, depending on the underlying cause. Factors influencing recovery include the severity and type of the injury or infection, the effectiveness of the treatment provided, and the dog’s overall health. Timely veterinary intervention can significantly shorten recovery time. Additionally, adherence to prescribed treatments, such as medications or rest, and the dog’s age and immune status also play critical roles in the speed of healing.

Can dietary deficiencies or imbalances contribute to paw pad health issues in dogs?

Yes, dietary deficiencies or imbalances can contribute to paw pad health issues in dogs. Specifically, a lack of essential fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, and certain vitamins such as vitamin E, can lead to dryness and cracking of paw pads. Adequate nutrition is crucial for maintaining the integrity and resilience of the skin, including the specialized skin of the paw pads. Ensuring a well-balanced diet that meets all nutritional requirements is essential for preventing such issues and supporting overall paw pad health.

Are there any long-term consequences or complications that can arise from untreated or chronic paw pad swelling in dogs?

Untreated or chronic paw pad swelling in dogs can lead to several long-term complications. Persistent inflammation can cause the degradation of paw tissue, resulting in pain, difficulty walking, and increased susceptibility to further injuries and infections. Over time, chronic swelling can lead to structural changes in the foot, adversely affecting a dog’s gait and overall mobility. Additionally, underlying conditions causing the swelling, such as infections or autoimmune diseases, can worsen without appropriate treatment, leading to more severe health issues. Prompt veterinary care is crucial to prevent these outcomes.

How can dog owners differentiate between a minor paw pad injury and a more serious condition that requires veterinary attention?

Dog owners can differentiate between a minor paw pad injury and a more serious condition by observing specific symptoms. Minor injuries might involve slight swelling or superficial scratches, which typically improve with basic home care. However, if the paw pad exhibits severe swelling, persistent redness, bleeding, signs of infection (like pus or unusual discharge), or if the dog shows pain (limping, reluctance to walk, excessive licking), these are indicators of a more serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment.

And if you have more questions or wish to schedule Fido for a checkup, don’t hesitate to call us, your local vet in Peterborough, ON, anytime!