Why Does My Dog Have Swollen Feet and What Are Some Natural Cures?
If your dog has swollen feet, the cause might be obvious. She may have stepped on a thorn, burned her pads walking on hot pavement, or have a sore from a spider bite. Determining the exact cause isn't usually so easy, though, so take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions before deciding what you need to do.
How many of your dog's feet are swollen?
- If only one foot is involved, you are most likely dealing with a trauma, a foreign body (like a thorn in the paw), or maybe a spider bite. Lift the sore paw up and check all the nails before running your fingers over the skin and taking a good look between the pads. Is there a growth present between the toes?
- If the front feet are swollen, and it is because your dog has been licking them excessively, it may be due to allergies. Are her ears also swollen and red? How about her belly? Is her skin raw in other areas from constant scratching?
- If all of the feet are swollen, check the pads and see if they are damaged from hot pavement. If the dog is also coughing, it may be due to heart disease. At this point your dog MUST be taken to the veterinarian.
What Causes a Dog to Have Swollen Feet?
- Trauma (like a broken toe or nail)
- Spider bite
- Puncture wound
- Tumor between the toes (uncommon)
- Circulatory problem (like heart disease)
Is the swelling on the leg, the feet, or are the pads swollen?
- If the leg is swollen, it may be due to trauma or a lesion somewhere else. The swelling in the foot may be secondary, and only due to injury higher up on the limb.
- If the leg is okay and only one toe is swollen, feel it and see if it is tender. Your dog may have a fractured toe, a torn nail, or a spider bite or thorn stuck in her foot.
- If the pads are swollen, are they painful? She may have burned herself walking on hot asphalt. If they are crusty but not painful, she may have a genetic footpad disease, lupus, or even an infection.
Natural Treatments for Swollen Feet
- Betadine Wash: If your dog has stepped on a sharp object or wounded his paw, just wash it out and clean the wound with betadine solution. Betadine will cause minor tissue damage so you can also wash with a chlorhexidine solution. Betadine, however, is available everywhere and is the more natural option.
- Epsom Salt Soak: For a swollen foot of unknown cause, one of the best treatments is to soak the foot in Epsom salts (about 2 tablespoons in a liter of water). That does not mean it is the easiest treatment. Many dogs will not sit still and allow you to soak their feet, but at least try to do so for at least 15 minutes.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: If the paw has a yeasty smell, especially when the dog has been licking on it, she may have already contracted a yeast infection secondary to her allergies. These infections are generally all over the body, but if you have caught it early you can treat it with apple cider vinegar. The best treatment is to soak the foot in dilute (1/2 strength) apple cider vinegar and then allowing it to air dry without rinsing. I use this organic apple cider vinegar since it is acidic and also has some healing properties not found in regular vinegar. Note: Apple cider vinegar may also be effective in reducing itchy skin secondary to allergies, and you will not have to resort to treating your dog with antihistamines.
- Benedryl: If the dog is also scratching at her ears and digging at her skin, as well as chewing on her feet, and the apple cider vinegar is not effective, you can provide some temporary relief by giving her about 1mg/pound of Benadryl (diphenhydramine). This does not always work, and even if it does provides only temporary relief, so you should get her in to see her vet because of the allergies as soon as you can.
- Warm Water Soak: If the swelling is in the foot pads, and they are very rough and scaly, it may help to soften them up with a warm water soak. Some vets recommend moistening the pads with vaseline but the dogs usually just lick it off before it does much good.
If your dog does not respond to soaking, have him seen as soon as possible by his regular veterinarian. Some diseases (like lupus) will require a lot more testing.
Licking the feet from time to time can be normal, but constant licking and chewing on the feet is a sign that something is wrong and should be looked into. If the swelling continues, your dog may have a serious problem. Consult your veterinarian.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
My 2-year-old German Shepherd got into a fight with my pit and now the German Shepherd has swollen back legs. How can I get rid of my German Shepherd's swollen back legs?
If the dogs back legs are swollen it may be because of bites and secondary infections. The best thing you can do for your dog is take him to your regular vet so that he can be treated with antibiotics.
If this is not possible you can try the Epsom salts as I described, but if the dog is already sick (a fever, not eating, vomiting, etc) he will need internal antibiotics.
My dog has been limping for a month or more, and blood tests and X-rays reveal nothing. Now it looks like one toe is extended and higher off the ground than the others. Is there anything in particular to look for?
You do not mention if it is a front or rear leg, which might make a difference, but I assume your regular vet has already gone over most of the common causes of lameness.
The condition you describe sounds like it might be tendinitis. If the tendon that attaches to that toe is inflamed, and then becomes scarred and contracts, it can cause the toe to be lifted off the ground similar to that which you are describing.
I would ask my regular vet to investigate autoimmune diseases and things that might cause an inflammation of the tendon.
If the limping continues and he is not able to diagnose it, you should ask for a referral to a veterinary teaching hospital (university) in your area so that others can look at it and possibly give you a correct diagnosis.Helpful 1
My Boerboel's leg has been swollen since June 3rd. We've had X-rays done and has been on anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, but his leg is still swollen. What more can we do?
If the swelling is in the paw, you can try to soak in Epsom salts. If your dog has swollen elbows, look at this article and see if it helps: https://hubpages.com/dogs/swollen-elbow-dog.
My dog's back left foot is swollen. There is no thorn or object in the foot, but now her mouth is swelling. What is going on?
If the dog's lips are swelling that indicates a systemic allergic reaction. She may have been bitten by a bee, a spider, or even a snake. The bite may be too small even to notice.
Please take your dog to a vet so that she can be given an anti-inflammatory injection. If she suffers from swelling in her throat, she could stop breathing.
My dog's foot is swollen, so I tried Epsom salt, but it hasn’t brought the swelling down. What else can I try?
It is possible that your dog has an infection from a penetrating wound. If the Epsom salts were not effective, you need to have the dog examined by your vet. He or she may need to be put on antibiotics.Helpful 5