Pododermatitis in Dogs: Why are My Dog’s Feet Red and Itchy?
Pododermatitis is an inflammation and/or infection of the foot. It is not a specific disease but rather a descriptive condition that can result from a number of medical problems. Because the prognosis and treatment can vary greatly, depending on the underlying problem, your veterinarian will likely run a thorough checkup to locate the cause. Causes of pododermatitis may include1:
- Allergic dermatitis
- Autoimmune skin disease
- Trauma with a secondary infection (bacterial or fungal)
Symptoms of pododermatitis
The inflammation may be limited to the feet, with no other areas affected. Unfortunately, inflammation leads to redness and an itchy sensation in the feet. Your dog may start licking and/or chewing his feet, nails and even foot pads.
Excessive licking and chewing may result in secondary infections which cause even more itch, as well as an abnormal odor. Other changes that may occur include:
- A generalized swelling of the feet
- Local swelling of the nodules between the toes
- Development of open and draining tracts (fistulas) with a pus-like or bloody discharge (Draining tracts, will usually lead to scar tissue formation, which makes treatment even more difficult)
Diagnosis of pododermatitis
Your veterinarian will usually begin with two simple tests:
- A skin scraping to look for demodectic mange mites
- A cytology to examine for bacteria and yeast which are common secondary problems
If an allergy is suspected there may be a need for a more complete workup including allergy tests. biopsies and surgical exploration may be required too.