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Causes of Lumps on Dog Paw Pads

Updated on February 5, 2016
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Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

Finding Lumps

After you've ruled out other possible causes of your dog limping, you will want to thoroughly inspect your dog's paw pads for lumps, bumps and any other abnormalities.

Things get tricky down there, so you want to be in a room with very good light and you do not want to miss hidden areas such as between toes or under the paw pad's hairs.

If you notice anything unusual, don't just assume it's caused by a local irritation and try to treat it on your own. Yes, soaking the foot in Epsom salts may help if the bump is caused by some sort of foreign body stuck in the paw pad such as a thorn.

However, just as in humans, no strange growths should go without veterinary attention. The causes for lumps can vary from minor conditions to some very serious ones which can be deadly.

A Lesson in Paw Pad Terminology

The paw pads connected to the dog's toe digits are referred to as "digital pads." The large central pad, when found in the front feet is known as "metacarpal pad" and when found in the rear feet is known as "metatarsal pad."

Minor Causes

As mentioned, any limping and all strange lumps on a dog's paw pads need to be investigated by a vet. Here are some of the possible causes. Only your vet will be able to properly diagnose your pooch.

Foreign Body

A common cause of lumps are foreign bodies in the paw pad. Common foreign bodies are seeds and grass awns. These create a local reaction and swelling.

Home Treatment

Soaking the foot in a warm, Epson salt bath for 5-10 minutes twice daily can help draw the infection out and increase the speed of the healing process.

Drying the feet and then applying plain Neosporin can also help.

The foreign body will either work its way out or will form an abscess (a pus-filled growth) and require antibiotics. For more information on method of treatment, see Dr Bruce's answer on JustAnswer.com

Digital Corn

Dogs, like humans, can get corns on their feet. These can often be painful, circular growths found on the keratinized tissue area on a dog's paw pads. As in humans, these often grow when there is an uneven bearing of the weight.

Symptoms

Most dogs affected by corns have more trouble walking on hard surfaces compared to soft grass. You see these often in greyhounds used for racing which may develop arthritis and bear their weight unevenly to get relief.

Corns are usually round and may have raised edges or a pale ring around them. In some cases, a foreign body may penetrate the foot pad and the tissue may overgrow on it, causing a callous growth that looks like a corn.

To see if it's actually a corn, have the dog stand up and pick up the affected foot. Grasp the toe from each side and give it a gentle squeeze. If the dog withdraws, it's likely a corn.

Treatment

See a vet to discuss your best options for treatment. They might include hulling the corn, topical medications, or surgery. Corns are often a recurring problem, so watch for other growths and lesions.

Even when removed, the corn should be biopsied to rule out a tumor. Grassmere Animal Hospital has some helpful pictures of digital corns.


Hystiocytoma

Symptoms

These are small, firm, pea-sized benign growths that may occasionally show up on a paw pad. They are often seen in young dogs and are frequently bright red and hairless. They tend to grow quickly though they are painless.

Treatment

It often alarms dog owners as they seem to appear overnight, though they often disappear over the course of a few months.

When they continue to grow, they are sometimes surgically removed. A course of prednisone may help them shrink.

Cysts

A dog's paw pads have several small glands. Most dog owners are not aware of these glands until they see the paw pads sweat like on a vet's office table.

These glands can commonly become cystic at times, or even cancerous. In the case of cysts, the lumps often contain fluids. These fluids can be aspirated with a syringe so they can be sent for a biopsy to rule out cancer. Most cysts are benign.

Concerning Causes

All strange bumps that you find on your dog should be investigated by a vet since there is always a chance it is cancer. Cancer may affect the toes, bones, paw pads and skin in the dog's feet.

These should be seen right away as time is of the essence. When caught early, the cancer can be removed, even though at times this might mean amputating paw pads, toes, or even legs in some cases.

Digital Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common type of malignant cancer of the toe according to Michigan Vet Specialists. Commonly it affects the skin around the nail, along with the bone and tissue around it.

It may present as a small nodule, a papule or a red, blister-like skin plaque. The toe is often swollen and the dog may limp and there may be a bleeding ulcer or a broken nail.

Large dogs that are black such as labs and poodles are commonly affected. It's often seen in older dogs around the age of 10, but can also be found in younger ones. Treatment involves surgery of the affected toe.

Staging (Non-Oral) Melanomas

T1
The tumor is less than 2 cm and superficial
T2
The tumor is 2-5 cm and hasn't spread below the skin
T3
The tumor is greater than 5 cm or has affected the tissues below the skin
T4
The tumor has invaded deeper into the tissues or bone
Reference: Pet Education Malignant Melanomas

Digital Cutaneous Melanoma

This is the second most common form of cancer of the toe, according to Michigan Vet Specialists. Melanomas are found mostly in pigmented areas in dogs.These can arise in the dog's nail bed, toe or paw pad.

Symptoms

They're common in black dogs. Usually they present as a mass, an ulcerative tumor, or a swelling on the toe according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation. They are usually solitary, dark growths ranging in size between 1/4 inch to several inches in diameter.

Limping may be the first symptom and often the swelling is misdiagnosed as an infection. Yet, the lump doesn't go away with antibiotics.

If the lump is found on the weight-bearing metacarpal or metatarsal pads, amputation of the whole leg may be necessary.

Generally, this melanoma is quite aggressive with about 30 to 40 percent of malignant melanomas having spread already by the time of diagnosis according to Marvista Vet. Often, this melanoma spreads to the closest lymph nodes and then metastasizes to the lungs.

*Note: Melanocytomas are the benign version of melanoma and are fortunately seen more often than melanomas. These, however, are mostly found in hair-covered areas. Whereas malignant melanomas are most commonly found in the mouth and toes, explains veterinarian Mike Richards.

Other Causes

Paw pad lumps and bumps may also be caused by mast cell tumors, insect bites, constant licking of paws, digital hyperkeratosis and many more. As you've seen, the issues may range from minor to even life-threatening, so be sure to adhere to the "when in doubt, a vet seek out" protocol.

Disclaimer: This article isn't a substitute for veterinary advice. If your dog has a lump or bump on his paw, please seek out the advice of a veterinarian.

Alexadry © All rights reserved, do not copy.

Causes of Swollen Paws

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    • profile image

      Linda 5 months ago

      Wink---

      Was that Mast Cell Tumour?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      Wink all lumps especially in senior dogs should be checked out by a vet.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      Elka, when it pops have your vet take a look at it.

    • profile image

      wink 10 months ago

      My 12 yr old male Shih-Tsu has had a hard lump on his right forepaw between the large pad and toes for a few years. It didn't really bother him before now. It has become quite swollen behind the lump, and reddish. Looks like it should be drained. It is warm but not hot. He has difficulty walking, especially with the left forepaw having a cyst on top of the paw between the middle toes, which we are treating with hydrogen peroxide. What can I do at home for the swelling behind the lump?

    • profile image

      elka 11 months ago

      my pit bull has a lump between his front toes, it comes and goes, he does not lick it, does not limp and shows no pain when touched what should I do

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 13 months ago from USA

      This is very odd, please follow up with the vet who did the surgery.

    • profile image

      lou 13 months ago

      My dog had surgery for a cyst on her paw almost two weeks ago. TO'Day she has started barking at her paw and holding it up more I am about to have a nervous breakdown. She is constantly kicking it.How long does it take to heal? I just want to cry for her she is my baby!,

    • profile image

      Marge 24 months ago

      Alexadry has posted home remedies in the sebaceous link article at the end under" further readings." Not sure if they would work though for a follicular cyst, as sebaceous cyst is somewhat different I would imagine. Best to ask your vet first. My dog's went away with castor oil.

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      Kim 24 months ago

      Alexadry, what home remedies made it go away? My pup also has a follicular cyst (have already been to the vet). I've been trying Epsom salt soaks but they don't seem to work. The good news is, it doesn't bother him!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Lumps, bumps, moles on the toes should be seen and evaluated by a vet to rule out major issues. Toes, toenails, lip and mouth areas can be problematic when there are lumps.

    • profile image

      Charisma 2 years ago

      My Dog Has A Bump On Top By His Toes (front right paw) It Bleeds But Bleeds Like A Pinkish Color. Im Cleaning It But My Dog Keeps Licking It. I Was Getting Annoyed By The Bump Then The Bump Went Pale And Water Started Coming Out.

      What Should I Do????

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      All lumps should be first checked out by a vet to rule out malignancies. Home remedies shouldn't be started until it is known exactly what type of lump it is. My girl had a sebaceous cyst confirmed by cytology test, it wasn't malignant, but the vet wanted to do surgery on her. Before going that route, we tried home remedies and it went away after a month.

    • profile image

      Jayne 2 years ago

      My dog has a lump on his paw, its between his toes/claws but he isn't limping on it or licking it, and when i touch it he doesn't show any signs of pain, it's a little bit red though, i was wandering if it could be treated by myself? And if so what do I do for it? If anyone can help me with advice please

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Dear Alexadry, I am so glad it isn't anything serious!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Wow, Alexadry, was just advising a neighbor on this issue yesterday. I noticed a little lump on his forepaw and told my neighbor to take him to the vet's. Good to have these checked, we never know, and should never diagnose them on our own. Thanks for sharing!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Turns out the growth on the paw pad is a follicular cyst per the results from the fine needle aspirate. Sigh of relief. Vet stills thinks she needs surgery though:(

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Hopefully it is only a cyst, dear!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      We had a needle aspirate done today and the vet suspects it's a cyst, but we will only know for sure in a couple of days. It looks like she may still need the surgery though.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much Monis Mas, will keep you posted

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      I will keep my fingers crossed!!!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      I will know on Monday, and will post here what the vet finds. Right now I am worried about melanomas as they seem to match what I see, but according to the staging chart, her lump would be stage 1 since it's barely half centimeter.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      I hope it's nothing serious! I can imagine how you feel...

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Those are found often in young dogs and are luckily benign. I am happy it went away! I am seeing the vet on Monday for my dog's little lump you see in the picture. I am very worried and scared.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks Torrilyn for the vote up. My dog has one as I speak, the paw in the picture is hers. I discovered it yesterday, this little stinker was hiding right between the paw pads and hair was covering it. My dog started limping and I thought it was a thorn, instead I found this scary lump. We are seeing the vet tomorrow and thought I would compile a list of causes for other owners in the same scenario.My hub is meant to warn owners of the importance of having any lumps checked out.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Very interesting! My dog once had Hystiocytoma. My husband and I were freaking out, but thank God, with a little bit of ointment it went away with time.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      alexadry, i find it very intereting that you have figured out the causes of lumps on dog paw pads. i feel this is great information, since i have a dog myself. thanks. voted up.

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