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Red Bump on My Dog’s Paw: 4 Reasons Why It Happens

Red bumps on dogs’ paws occur for many reasons, including trauma, cancer, dermatitis, or if they step on a sharp object. Red bumps on dogs’ paws are usually accompanied by pain and/or itching, causing the dog to lick and chew their paw. Consult the vet if your dog has one or more red bumps on its paw.

Dogs that lick, bite, and chew their paws continuously can be annoying, both for the dog and the owner. Although some dogs do this out of boredom or stress, it also can be caused by medical issues.

If you see your dog adopting this excessive behavior, carefully inspect its paws to ensure there is nothing there.

There are many reasons why dogs bite and chew their paws:

  • Cysts
  • Injury
  • Trauma
  • Sharp objects
  • Dermatitis
  • Cancer

It is advisable to seek the help and advice of a specialist when you notice your dog has red bumps on its paws.

In this article, you will learn why dogs get red bumps on their paws, what you can do, and more.

Why Does My Dog Have a Red Bump on Its Paw?

It is unusual for dogs to have red bumps on their paws. They can be local reactions to trauma or foreign bodies, cancer, interdigital cysts, or a symptom of dermatitis. Contact the vet if you notice a red bump on its paws.

Red bumps on dogs’ paws can occur for many reasons. Here are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of red bumps on dogs’ paws:

  1. Interdigital cyst
  2. Trauma or foreign bodies
  3. Dermatitis
  4. Cancer

In most cases, red bumps on dogs cause itchiness and or/pain. Due to pain or itchiness, dogs start to lick, bite, and chew their paws, sometimes until they self-mutilate. Other symptoms include:

  • Lameness
  • Cautiousness when putting the affected paw on the ground
  • The paw is swollen and warm to the touch

1. Interdigital Cysts

Interdigital Cysts
Image Source

Interdigital cysts (also called interdigital furunculosis or pododermatitis) are cysts between dogs’ toes. 

Pododermatitis is, more correctly, a generic term for various inflammatory pathologies that affect dogs’ paws.

The biggest mistake many owners make when it comes to interdigital cysts is applying all kinds of ointments on their dog’s paws. Instead, go to the veterinarian.

Most of the time, owners don’t call the vet until their dog can’t walk anymore. Interdigital cysts that are not treated in time or treated improperly can ultimately lead to partial amputation of the dogs’ paws. Make sure to see the vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms of interdigital cysts[1] in dogs:

  • The presence of cysts
  • The presence of one or more red bumps between your dog’s toes (they appear when the cysts rupture)
  • Licking, biting, and chewing of the paws
  • Local pain
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Wet areas on your dog’s paw
  • Bad odor
  • Bleeding

Cysts form directly between the toes and on the bottom of the paws causing extensive areas of hair loss, redness, and swelling.

Interdigital cysts are most often found on the front of the paws, between the fourth and fifth interdigital spaces. In some cases, all the interdigital spaces are ulcerated.

This issue is more common in young dogs under the age of four. The most affected breeds are:

  • Terriers
  • Bulldogs
  • Staffordshire

Dogs in convalescence are also more prone to developing interdigital cysts.

All pets with congenital or acquired pathologies of the musculoskeletal structure of the limbs are at risk, regardless of sex and breed.It is recommended to go to the vet as soon as your dog shows symptoms. Do not self-medicate your pet as the condition can lead to complications if it is improperly treated.

2. Red Bumps Caused by Trauma & Foreign Bodies

Red Bumps Caused by Trauma & Foreign Bodies

Red bumps on dogs’ paws are also caused by traumas. As dogs walk a lot in the grass, they sometimes step on foreign bodies that cut, sting, or puncture their paws:

  • Glass shards
  • Wood chips
  • Thorns
  • Arista (awns)

Awns are several centimeters long and sharp components of grain ears and grasses. They can enter easily in your dog’s paw and foot.[2]

Those that penetrate deep into the skin can also cause serious infections, pus, inflammation, and redness.

Awns often penetrate the paws between the toes or near their claws. This causes swelling and affected dogs will persistently lick the wound area and may also limp.

Do not try to remove awns that are deep into the skin on your own, as it will cause it to go even further into the tissue.

What you can do is carefully analyze the skin between your dog’s toes. If you notice it is swollen, warm, and painful, it is possible your dog has an awn.

Awns do not come out on their own. On the contrary, they push deeper, complicating the removal.

You can use tweezers to extract an awn that has not entered far under the skin, but if you notice your dog’s skin is red and swollen, go to the vet immediately.

3. Dermatitis

Canine dermatitis

Canine dermatitis is a skin disease characterized by inflammation and itching. These symptoms cause discomfort, and poor quality of life. It can also affect dogs’ sleep and appetite.

When dogs frequently scratch, lick, and bite the skin, it leads to open wounds and infections to the point of self-mutilation.

There are many causes of dermatitis in dogs:[3]

  • Parasites: lice, fleas, ticks, or mites.
  • Bacterial and fungal infections: Staphylococci, Streptococci, Malassezia, etc.
  • Food or environmental allergies (dust, pollen, or grass).
  • Immune-mediated
  • Hormonal
  • Metabolic
  • Tumors

Some areas of the body are more often affected by dermatitis than others:

  • Ear
  • Paws
  • Abdomen
  • Axillary

Dermatitis can appear all over the body (generalized dermatitis) or locally (localized dermatitis). If it is localized on the paws (pododermatitis), the following symptoms can occur:

  • Excessive itching and scratching
  • Dogs lick, bite, and chew their paws (sometimes to the point of self-mutilation)
  • Dogs’ paws are red, warm, and inflamed
  • Lameness
  • Pain
  • Hair loss
  • White dogs’ fur acquires a pinkish-reddish hue
  • The presence of red bumps and crusts between the toes

If your dog shows these symptoms, visit the vet for a correct diagnosis and proper treatment. Do not treat your dog at home as you risk doing more harm than good.

4. Cancer

Bone Cancer

Cancer is a medical condition that can cause red bumps on dogs’ paws. The most common form of cancer that causes red bumps is known as squamous cell carcinoma.[4]

This type of cancer is aggressive and often reoccurs after removal. Squamous cell carcinoma spreads to other organs, making it a life-threatening disease.

This type of cancer originates from squamous cells in the skin around the nails. Squamous cell carcinoma usually affects the bone and tissue around the toe, but because it has a slow evolution, it can be detected and removed before spreading.

This type of cancer usually affects only one toe and is characterized by the appearance of a small reddish nodule, which resembles a blister without liquid.

Over time, this type of tumor causes pain and bleeding. It can also become infected.

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs mostly in breeds with black fur and in older dogs, but it has also been diagnosed in young pets.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog has a small red mass on one of its toes.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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