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Why Is My Dog’s Paw Pad Swollen?

April 1, 2023

If you notice that your dog’s paw pads are swollen, it could be a sign of something serious. But before you panic and rush your pup to the vet, it’s important to determine if there is an underlying medical problem causing those puffy paws. 

Read on as a local vet talks about some common causes of swollen paw pads in dogs.

A Splinter

Splinters can be painful, but they’re also dangerous if they cause an infection. Dogs are especially prone to splinter injuries because of the rough surfaces they walk on. Splinters can become infected, and if they’re not removed correctly, they can cause serious damage to your dog’s paw pads. 


If you notice that your dog’s paws are swollen, especially if they’re hot to the touch and appear red or irritated, they may have an infection. In this case, it’s important to take action quickly to ensure that your dog gets the treatment they need.

Bacterial or fungal infections can affect your dog’s paws and lead to swelling and discomfort. Unfortunately, both types are common in dogs. Symptoms of bacterial infections include:

  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Redness 
  • Pain

Fungal infections may also cause inflammation, but they’re more likely to be associated with itching than with pain or swelling.

Both kinds of infections can spread from dog to dog through direct contact with an infected animal or its feces or urine. However, fungal infections tend to be transferred more easily than bacterial ones because they don’t require direct contact between two animals for transmission (one animal can pick up spores from the environment).

If you notice that your dog’s paw has swollen overnight or within 24 hours, this could mean that he has an infection or some other condition that requires immediate treatment.

Underlying Medical Problems

So what kinds of underlying medical problems can cause a dog’s paw pads to swell up? Arthritis can affect the joints in your dog’s paws, causing pain and inflammation.  If your dog has arthritis, it’s likely that he’ll start limping on one or more of his paws. 

Other medical problems that can cause pain and swelling in a dog’s paws include: 

  • Tumors (cancerous or benign) 
  • Diabetes 
  • Injuries 
  • Allergies  
  • Poisoning  
  • Inflammatory diseases (such as lupus)   

Things to Consider

If your dog isn’t limping or showing other signs of pain but his or her paw pads are swollen, call your veterinarian just to be sure. And if you have more questions or wish to schedule Fido for a checkup, don’t hesitate to call us, your local vet in West Greenwich, RI, anytime!

Our Advice on Why Is My Dog’s Paw Pad Swollen

What are some common causes of swollen paw pads in dogs?

Common causes of swollen paw pads in dogs include splinters or foreign objects causing irritation or infection, bacterial and fungal infections leading to inflammation and discomfort, and underlying medical issues such as arthritis, tumors, diabetes, injuries, allergies, poisoning, and inflammatory diseases like lupus. These conditions can cause the paw pads to swell, often accompanied by redness, heat, pain, or itching. Identifying the root cause is crucial for effective treatment and relief of the dog’s discomfort.

What underlying medical problems can cause swelling in a dog’s paw pads?

Underlying medical problems that can cause swelling in a dog’s paw pads include arthritis, which leads to joint inflammation and pain; tumors, both cancerous and benign, that can grow on or near the paw pads; diabetes, which may result in poor circulation and swelling; injuries from cuts, abrasions, or blunt trauma; allergies that cause skin reactions including swelling; poisoning from ingesting toxic substances; and inflammatory diseases such as lupus, which can affect various parts of the body, including the paws, leading to swelling and discomfort.

How does arthritis affect a dog’s paws and mobility?

Arthritis in dogs typically affects the joints, including those in the paws, leading to inflammation, pain, and decreased range of motion. This condition can make walking, running, and even standing uncomfortable for the dog, significantly impairing mobility. Arthritic dogs may limp, show reluctance to move, have difficulty standing up or lying down, and exhibit reduced activity levels. The discomfort in their paws may also lead them to lick or chew at the affected areas, further indicating their distress. Managing arthritis often involves pain relief, weight management, and joint supplements to improve mobility and quality of life.

What are other medical conditions that can lead to pain and swelling in a dog’s paws?

Other medical conditions that can lead to pain and swelling in a dog’s paws include injuries such as cuts, fractures, or sprains, which directly impact the paw’s structure and function. Allergies, whether due to environmental factors, foods, or chemicals, can cause dermatitis, swelling, and discomfort. Poisoning from ingesting toxic substances may result in systemic reactions, including paw swelling. Additionally, inflammatory diseases like lupus can affect the paws, causing swelling and pain. Tumors or growths on or near the paw pads can also cause similar symptoms, necessitating veterinary evaluation.

When should a pet owner consider it necessary to consult a veterinarian for swollen paw pads?

A pet owner should consult a veterinarian for swollen paw pads if the swelling is accompanied by signs of pain, lameness, redness, heat, or discharge; if the dog is excessively licking or chewing at the paw; or if the swelling persists for more than a day or two. Immediate veterinary attention is also warranted if the swelling appears suddenly, especially after an injury, or if there are other symptoms of illness, such as fever, lethargy, or a decrease in appetite, indicating a more serious underlying condition.

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