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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.

Our Advice on Why My Dog’s Paw Pad Swollen in 2024

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

Common causes of swollen paw pads in dogs include splinters, infections (bacterial or fungal), and underlying medical issues like arthritis, tumors, diabetes, injuries, allergies, poisoning, or inflammatory diseases. Splinters can lead to infections if improperly removed, while bacterial or fungal infections cause inflammation, redness, and discomfort. Underlying medical conditions such as arthritis can also contribute to paw pad swelling. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial to identify the specific cause and provide appropriate treatment to alleviate the discomfort and prevent further complications.

What are the symptoms of bacterial infections in a dog’s paw pads?

Symptoms of bacterial infections in a dog’s paw pads include inflammation, swelling, redness, and pain. Bacterial infections can cause discomfort and affect the dog’s mobility. It’s essential to observe any changes in the appearance or behavior of the dog’s paw pads, especially if they exhibit signs of infection. Prompt veterinary attention is necessary to accurately diagnose the bacterial infection and administer appropriate treatment, including antibiotics or topical medications, to alleviate the symptoms and prevent further complications.

How do bacterial and fungal infections spread among dogs?

Bacterial and fungal infections can spread among dogs through direct contact with an infected animal, feces, or urine. Fungal infections, such as those caused by yeast or ringworm, can also spread through environmental contamination, as fungal spores can persist in the surroundings. Bacterial infections may spread similarly but typically require closer contact between infected and healthy dogs. Maintaining good hygiene practices, such as regularly cleaning living areas and grooming equipment, can help prevent the spread of these infections. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial if infection is suspected to avoid further transmission and ensure effective treatment.

Why is it crucial to seek immediate treatment if a dog’s paw pad swells overnight or within 24 hours?

Immediate treatment is crucial if a dog’s paw pad swells overnight or within 24 hours because it could indicate a severe underlying condition. Rapid onset swelling suggests an acute issue that requires prompt veterinary attention to prevent further complications. Delayed treatment may worsen the dog’s discomfort and exacerbate the underlying cause. Timely intervention allows for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment to alleviate pain, address the underlying problem, and promote a faster recovery for the dog’s overall well-being.

Besides arthritis, what other medical conditions can lead to swelling in a dog’s paw pads?

Besides arthritis, other medical conditions that can lead to swelling in a dog’s paw pads include tumors (both cancerous and benign), diabetes, injuries, allergies, poisoning, and inflammatory diseases such as lupus. These conditions can cause inflammation, pain, and discomfort in the paw pads, affecting the dog’s mobility and overall well-being. Prompt veterinary evaluation is essential to identify the underlying cause accurately and provide appropriate treatment to alleviate symptoms and improve the dog’s quality of life.

And if you have more questions or wish to schedule Fido for a checkup, don’t hesitate to call us, your local vet in McHenry, IL, anytime!