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Why does my dog have swollen feet and what are some natural cures

Updated on February 19, 2017
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

If you are concerned about swelling, examine the toes. If they are parallel the dogs feet are normal.
If you are concerned about swelling, examine the toes. If they are parallel the dogs feet are normal. | Source

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 dripping sore from a spider bite. It usually is not easy to figure out, though, so take a deep breath and ask yourself a few questions before deciding what you need to do.

How many feet are involved?

· 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 can cause swollen feet?

• Trauma (like a broken toe or nail)
• Infection
• Allergies
• Spider bite
• Puncture wound
• Tumor between the toes (uncommon)
• Circulatory problem (like heart disease)
If your dog has long hair and you are not able to examine the paw for swelling, check to see if the toes are parallel.
If your dog has long hair and you are not able to examine the paw for swelling, check to see if the toes are parallel. | Source

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

· If your dog has stepped on a sharp object or wounded his paw, just wash it out and clean the wound with betadine solution. (Which you have, of course, in your canine first aid kit.)

· 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.

· 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. The best treatment is to soak the foot in dilute (1/2 strength) apple cider vinegar (like the organic product advertised next to this paragraph). Allow it to air dry for best effect.

· 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.

· 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.

· 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.

Some feet are naturally wide without being swollen. Look at your dog every day so that you are aware what is normal.
Some feet are naturally wide without being swollen. Look at your dog every day so that you are aware what is normal. | Source

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.

Some Reader Questions and Answers

Hi i have spent a lot of money on my dogs paw last year and seemed to be getting bad again she won't put it down. It looks very swollen.. last year she had 2 of the ends of her fingers removed. The vets said it was because she had blood clots at the end but it still bad.. Is there anything I can do to take swelling down and make her more comfortable unfortunately I can't afford to get her back to the vets till the end of March.. I'd appreciate any advice.. king regards rebecca lane

Rebecca, it is difficult to figure this out without an exam, but to make her more comfortable, and hopefully prevent her paws from swelling, you could try using heat to the affected area of the paw. Use a very warm, moist cloth, and wrap her foot and apply gentle pressure for at least 5 minutes.


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    • profile image

      wanda matos 4 weeks ago

      my shizhtu has a large bump on front paw thats an open wound never heals n hes constantly licking bleeds alot if hebumps it on something..

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Ashimdas, I need more info. Do you have access to a vet? If so, have him examined.

    • profile image

      ashimdas 3 months ago

      My gsd puppy left leg palm is red.what shall i do.

    • profile image

      Lollypat 10 months ago

      My 14-year old minpin has congestive heart failure. He's a sweetheart. He has developed a thing where he licks the top of his front paws but I'm not sure why. Could the congestive heart failure figure in?

    • profile image

      carol relf 2 years ago

      seems that my dog's tags swell up like a ball uncomfortable for him to walk happened in the winter due to the salt now I am at the campgrounds where there is send and she has started swelling up on his place again is seeing

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That is an interesting comment, Solaras. As I mentioned to Bob in the comment above, we were always taught that food allergies were fairly uncommon. I do not think the problem would be from the chicken, but, as you mention, who knows what kind of junk goes into commercial chicken production? I would like to know how his dog responded to free range chickens. It surely would not cost anymore than one of those "holistic" fish based kibble, and in my opinion the benefits of feeding a natural raw diet would be worth it to the dog (both in his health today and his lifespan in the future).

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      Great Hub - Voted Thumbs up and Useful.

      I had heard that chicken based diets cause a lot of allergic reactions. Maybe because of the antibiotics and hormones fed to the chickens. My ex husband was feeding his dog a raw diet based on chicken and the dog licked his legs until they were stained dark brown. After switching his diet to a fish based kibble the licking stopped. What are your thoughts Dr. Mark?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      tirelesstraveler--I am glad things are looking up. If the problem persists, be sure to take him in to his regular vet and have his foot x-rayed. If he fractured a toe when jumping, sometimes it will heal crooked and his foot will always be a little lame.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Very timely. One of the dogs has swollen front paws. Certainly from trauma. Found an extremely bouncy ball and he has been jumping high to catch it. He didn't complain about the soak last night. They look better this morning.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another great hub which will benefit so many dog owners. Voted up, across and shared.


    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      This is a very informative. I'm always interested in what you have to offer. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I have found myself reading labels before I buy.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      I think they were drinking the Hill's/Purina Kool-Aid, Doc. I've been told that those two companies still underwrite nutrition curricula. I've been yelling at people about wheat-based biscuits, pizza crust, etc. for 23 years now and feel vindicated by the plethora of wheat free foods and treats on the market. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say.

      I can't count the number of people who report favorable outcomes by eliminating wheat, soy, sorghum, corn, etc. from their dogs' diets. A lot of dogs can tolerate the grains, but many demonstrate an intolerance to them and improve greatly when the switch is made.

      Most owners don't like having their dogs on steroids, but many of the vets don't seem too concerned with a grain issue. They tend to marginalize the notion and keep pumping the juice. Many owners are pushing back, though, because of the empirical evidence that's reinforced by their acquaintances at the dog park, doggie day care, etc.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Good point, Bob. Back when I attended veterinary school we were taught that most of the allergies were not due to cheap food, but anecdotally it seems to be a much bigger problem than thos profs believed.


      Behavior modification.....mmm, good thing!

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Another helpful hub, Doc! In my daily contact with pet owners, foot licking and chewing is a common problem here. It may be anecdotal but it's undeniable that such a problem is exacerbated by a grain-based, low-end dog food and treat items such as wheat based biscuits, pizza crust, pasta, bagels, etc...and that improving the food and eliminating wheat-based treats usually reduces...and sometimes eliminates...the itching. I've known a lot of dogs that were able to come off steroids after the owners' behavior was modified. Up, useful and interesting.