Treating Your Dog’s Swollen Paw

Estimated Reading Time 5 minutes
Treating Your Dog’s Swollen Paw

There are many reasons for a dog's swollen paw; these range from simple conditions like injuries, allergies, or infections to more complex ones, such as autoimmune diseases. Whatever the case, the most important thing is to detect signs of it in time and go to a vet who will prescribe the most appropriate treatment. In this article, we will guide pet caregivers on swollen paw causes, as well as possible solutions, and prevention methods. Read on to learn more!

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What is swelling?

Swelling is a common symptom in mammals that have suffered an injury or are suffering from a disease. Just as in humans, in dogs, it manifests itself with the enlargement of one or more parts of the body, often resulting from the accumulation of fluid in the tissues.

For example, your dog's swollen paw may be due to a disorder that prevents the normal flow of blood through them. But it can also be due to bacteria or parasites that have invaded your pet's paw, forming pus, the buildup of which could also explain the swelling.

Before panicking, it is necessary to remember that all of us have experienced swelling in some part of the body at some point in our lives. It is one of the most common and immediate symptoms of a problem, even if it is minimal. But it is also true that it may indicate a more complex problem that requires further veterinary evaluation.

Common Causes of Swollen Paws in Dogs

This is an unwanted problem, especially when it comes to our canine companions, but it is so common that it is better to be prepared to detect it. Of course, this is mainly the job of a vet, but as caregivers, we must be able to notice early symptoms to avoid more significant problems. It is essential to know the possible causes of swollen paws, so we will explain them below.

1. Injury or Fracture

When visiting a vet for your dog's swollen paw, the first thing they will try to do is rule out an injury. Fractures can also cause this troublesome symptom. Canines are very agile, it is true, but a fall down the stairs, for example, could easily cause pain and inflammation in one or more paws. Yes, just like when we humans trip or twist our ankles.

2. Insect Bites

If there are no obvious injuries to your dog’s paw, the possibility of an insect bite or allergic reaction could also be considered. Bees, wasps, and even spiders can inject poisons that can cause inflammation.

3. Allergy to Certain Medications

Swollen paws in dogs can also result from an allergic reaction to poison or medication. For example, it is known that vaccinations can cause swelling on the face and body of canines, and limbs can be affected. Although in these cases, it is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as redness and itching of the skin.

4. Infection

Infection with some bacteria, parasites, or viruses can also cause your dog's swollen paw. This could be related to an injury that left the skin exposed and prone to one of these pathogens. Abscesses can form this way.

In addition, an infection could occur due to objects embedded in the paw, such as splinters or nails, which lead to infection in dogs. And it is worth noting that all these cases follow a similar pattern: the swelling is typically localized to one paw.

5. Arthritis

Arthritis is a very common inflammatory disorder in humans, but it can also occur in dogs. In fact, it could be the reason for your dog's swollen paw, especially if it occurs in several or all of them. However, arthritis is distinguished from other conditions because the enlargement occurs at the joint level.

6. Bone Tumor

One of the most serious causes of swollen paws in dogs is the presence of bone tumors; these can be generated directly in the bone or spread to them after starting in other parts of the body. When this happens, caregivers may notice localized swelling in the affected bone, accompanied by other symptoms such as lameness.

7. Edema

Edema is another of the worrying causes of swollen paws in dogs since it is usually related to other diseases, often not detected in time. Edema is a fluid buildup that can occur from intestinal disease, nephrotic syndrome (i.e., affected kidneys), heart failure, liver failure, and even malnutrition (poor nutrition).

7. Lymphedema

Lymphedema ranks among the causes of swollen paws in dogs that deserve the most attention. It consists of the accumulation of a fluid called lymph due to a blockage in the lymphatic system, which is part of the canine's defenses.

Lymphedema can occur due to genetic disorders, but it is also related to other causes already mentioned, including trauma and infection. What is certain is that lymphedema causes a very noticeable and progressive inflammation. In dogs, it occurs mainly in the hind limbs.

Can I treat my dog’s swollen paw at home?

The good news is that many of the conditions mentioned above can be fixed with proper treatment. To apply them, it is necessary to seek the recommendation of a vet who will determine the steps to follow according to the diagnosis.

Some options can be easily applied at home, along with primary care; in fact, many can be resolved in a short time without the need for intervention, while others may require more complex procedures that only professionals should perform.

The treatment of swollen paws in dogs will depend entirely on the underlying causes, hence the importance of obtaining the diagnosis from a specialist. A swelling caused by an infection cannot be treated the same as one caused by a fracture, for example. Both conditions can cause the same symptom to the naked eye, but they are not treated in the same way.

When to Contact the Vet

We recommend taking your dog for a check-up with the vet regularly and whenever necessary. Swollen paws are a symptom that may require medical attention. Additional signs such as pain, itching, redness, and prolonged lameness warrant a trip to the vet.

Read more:

Pet First Aid: How to Treat Minor Wounds

My Dog Won't Stop Licking His Paws - Help!

First Aid for Broken Nails

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Published: 4/8/2022
Dr. Sheena Haney, Veterinarian

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