What Causes Pododermatitis in Dogs?


Pododermatitis, which is basically swelling and irritation on one or more of the paws, is more of a symptom than a condition itself. Pododermatitis always has an underlying cause, from excessive licking to fungal infection to allergic reactions and more. It’s important to have any dog with pododermatitis evaluated by a skilled veterinary clinic so the cause of the irritation can be tracked down. In this post, we’ll go over the basics of pododermatitis in dogs.

Understanding Pododermatitis

As stated above, pododermatitis is basically inflammation and irritation of one or more of a dog’s paws. While pododermatitis is a symptom itself, it also comprises several symptoms, including swelling, redness, varying levels of discomfort, etc. Pododermatitis can affect just one paw or multiple, although it is more common in the front paws.

Common Causes of Pododermatitis in Dogs

  • Allergies

Allergies are a common cause of pododermatitis in dogs. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a variety of allergies, including environmental, food, and insects. Exposure to allergens can cause a localized reaction on the paws, making them itchy and inflamed. Dogs tend to lick itchy body parts, further exacerbating the problem. Luckily, there are effective allergy treatments for dogs now available.

  • Infections

Another common cause of pododermatitis in dogs is infection. Both bacterial and fungal infections are leading causes of paw irritation, and both are typically caused by some initial injury that compromises the skin integrity of the paws. Resolving the infection and physical wound typically resolve this cause of pododermatitis.

  • Parasites

Another common culprit that leads to pododermatitis is parasites. Dogs are susceptible to various pesky critters that like to take up residence on their skin or in their fur. Dogs with severe flea allergies are particularly at risk. Keep your dog on active flea and parasite protection to stop this cause of pododermatitis before it starts.

  • Injury or Trauma

We mentioned infection secondary to an injury above, but the injury doesn’t necessarily have to cause an infection to cause pododermatitis. Any cut, bruise, scrape, or burn can cause irritation and discomfort of the paws, which usually resolves as the injury heals. Here in sunny Tampa, burns from hot pavement are a common injury that leads to pododermatitis, among other issues.

  • Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances are not really a common cause of pododermatitis, but it is possible. Conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease result from out of whack hormones and can cause a variety of skin conditions, including pododermatitis.

  • Genetic Predispositions

While no breed of dog is genetically predisposed to develop pododermatitis specifically, there are some breed characteristics that give a more hospitable environment to the irritation and swelling. Some breeds that tend to develop pododermatitis include French Bulldogs, Great Danes, Dachshunds, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, and more.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Pododermatitis as a symptom is usually easily diagnosed after a physical examination of the paws. We may also want to take skin scrapings, conduct allergy testing, and do blood work to pin down the exact problem and cause. Once we know that we’re dealing with pododermatitis and discover the underlying cause, we will tailor the pooch’s treatment to address the cause and related symptoms. Treatment may involve antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, special shampoos, or other topical treatments, in addition to any treatment for the underlying cause.

For dogs that have a tendency to develop pododermatitis, good hygiene and regular vet visits are essential to keep the symptom in check and maintain the best health possible for your pup.

Pododermatitis Diagnosis & Treatment in Tampa Bay

Pododermatitis in dogs can stem from a variety of causes, each requiring a unique approach to treatment. At our caring and compassionate veterinary clinic and hospital in Tampa, we have the knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose and treat your dog’s pododermatitis and its underlying cause. If you’re concerned about swelling and irritation on your dog’s paws, schedule an appointment with us online or call us at 813-991-9898.