Because dogs are covered in fur, it can sometimes be hard to find another issue that can be a major problem: paw issues, which can cause considerable pain and discomfort for your pooch. If you haven’t given your dog’s paws a good inspection lately, try doing so today. While your dog is enjoying her rest, lift her paws gently and look for signs of the following conditions.

Paw pad hyperkeratosis

Hyperkeratosis is the abnormal production of keratin, resulting in the unusual growth of hair, skin, nails, and claws.

When a dog’s body creates more of this substance than is necessary, the paws develop a tough, thick exterior that hardens and cracks. They may also develop calluses and blisters that can become infected, causing your dog unnecessary pain.

A few ways to avoid skin hardening include the use of natural balms that contain a cocktail of Vitamins E, F, and A. Keeping pads hydrated will provide gentle relief.


When a dog has Pemphigus, an autoimmune disease, her immune system is basically in overdrive. Antibodies begin to attack the skin of the paws, leading to painful pustules, blisters, and crusting. Some breeds seem to be particularly predisposed to Pemphigus, such as Akitas, Doberman Pinschers, and Beaded Collies.

Typically, your veterinarian will prescribe a corticosteroid treatment or other immunosuppressive medication to address this condition.

Zinc deficiency

There are many conditions that can cause your dog’s paw pads to harden and crack, including allergic reactions, internal illness, and the simple formation of calluses due to frequent walking or running on hard surfaces,

A lesser known case for poor paw condition is a poor diet, especially one that is low in zinc. This problem seems to be more common in Huskies and Malamutes than other breeds. Zinc deficiencies can include other problems, such as chronic digestive problems and organ damage if not treated promptly.

If your dog has any of these symptoms, discuss her diet with your vet. Also, talk about any nutritional supplements your dog may be taking, as these might be interfering with zinc absorption.

Fungal & Bacterial infections

If your dog continually licks and chews her paws or your notice any redness, swelling, or drainage from her paws, she may have a fungal or bacterial infection.

Often, the skin between the toes is affected, so be sure to check those areas as well as on the larger paw pad area.

These infections may be secondary to an allergy, so once again, taking your dog to see the vet for a consultation will help solve the mystery and enable the doctor to prescribe the appropriate remedy.


ASCPA – Common Dog Diseases

Happiest Dog – Treating Paw Pad Hyperkeratosis in Dogs

Embrace Insurance – Pemphigus in Dogs

VCA Hospitals – Zinc-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs


Dogs are sturdy members of the family, and their health issues can sometimes go unnoticed. This is frequently the case with paw conditions, since paw skin can be hidden underneath fur.

Every so often, make it a habit to check your dog’s paw pads, looking for signs of rough, red, or swollen skin. Also watch out for excessive licking, and be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that your dog doesn’t have to suffer with these conditions.