Tread Lightly: Navigating Paw Problems in Pets

Cat Paws

Their eyes may be the windows to their souls, but our pets rely on their feet for a lot, too. From navigating their world to participating in instinctual behaviors to a playful romp, paws are important. In fact, at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital we see, on a daily basis, how paw problems can plague our pet patients. Recognizing, diagnosing, and treating these problems are an important part of caring for paw health. 

Calling Out Pet Paw Problems

Paw problems can be particularly troublesome for pets, but if we aren’t able to identify that there is an issue, they can go untreated. So how do you know that your terrier’s tootsies aren’t in tip-top shape?

There are typically a few clues that something isn’t right when it comes to paw problems in pets. Signs of trouble can include:

  • Limping
  • Licking or chewing the paws
  • Changes in the appearance or texture of the pads
  • Changes in the appearance of the nails
  • One or more broken nails
  • Areas of swelling or redness
  • Unusual sensitivity to handling of the paws

If your pet is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to give us a call so we can figure out what’s what.

Pinpointing the Problem

When it comes to paw problems in pets, many issues can appear similarly to the untrained eye. That is where our expert team of doctors comes in.  Your pet’s examination and recommended diagnostic testing helps us to understand the problem so that we can get started treating and helping our patient feel better. 

Some paw issues are more common than others. Some issues that we see include:

Fractures – Analogous to our hands, your pet’s paws contain many tiny bones that can fracture, resulting in pain and limping. 

Broken nails – Pets can break, split, or tear off nails when they become caught in things. This is especially likely to happen if the nails are overgrown. 

Allergic pododermatitis – A pet’s allergies to environmental things or foods can manifest as itchy, irritated paws. 

Acral lick granuloma – This thickened and irritated lesion is often secondary to other more chronic problems and results from a pet’s continued obsession with a particular area. 

Infections – Microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, and skin mites live on our pet’s skin all the time. These populations can become out of balance, however, and cause trouble. 

Interdigital cysts –  These bumps that can form between the toes can be irritating and quite painful, much like having a rock in your shoe. 

Tumors – Your pet’s paws are not immune from forming growths and other tumors. Many are benign, however more serious tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma can be seen on the paws. 

Autoimmune disease – Several autoimmune diseases also can affect the paws. Lupoid onychodystrophy can cause the actual nails themselves to fall off and regrow abnormally, while diseases like pemphigus foliaceus can cause painful pustules to form where the pad meets the skin.

Your pet’s paws are important, and we want them to stay pain-free and healthy. Of course, routine wellness examinations help us to stay on top of your pet’s well-being from nose to tail. 

As a pet owner, though, staying on top of any sign that things are awry can help get ahead of potentially serious issues from paw problems to anything else that may affect your furry friend.