Dogs use their paws quite a lot as they move about day in and day out. Serving many functions, a dog’s paws are amazing. With daily use, however, their paws may be susceptible to irritation or infections, among other issues.

When something’s wrong with a dog’s paws, the first thing that pet owners often notice is constant licking of the area, along with redness and inflammation. There are several possible reasons, and whatever it may be, it’s likely to be annoying your dog. They may lick their paws as a way to relieve the itch or pain. However, this may also worsen the symptoms and sometimes result in secondary infections.

In this article, we’ll be talking about the possible reasons why a dog’s paws are red, the signs and symptoms, the treatment options, and how we can prevent it.

Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet


  1. What Are the Key Signs of Red Paws on Dogs
  2. Causes of Red Paws on Dogs
  3. How to Treat Red Dog Paws
  4. How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

What Are the Key Signs of Red Paws on Dogs

If a dog’s paws are red, there may be accompanying symptoms that give you a clue as to the underlying cause and whether it’s minor or potentially serious. A dog licking and chewing their red paws, for instance, may indicate allergies. On the other hand, if a dog's paw is red and swollen and the dog is limping or having difficulty walking, it could indicate a lesion or burn.

Below are some of the possible accompanying symptoms of red paws in dogs:

  • Repeated licking, biting, or gnawing of the paws;
  • Kicking their feet;
  • Limping;
  • Difficulty or refusal to walk;
  • Saliva stain (pink fur);
  • Irritation in other areas, such as the ears;
  • Bad odor.

To detect such symptoms, a good pet camera, such as the Pet Cam, will come in handy. It’s a good way to monitor your dog 24/7, even when you’re out. Thus, when you notice your dog exhibiting symptoms that are out of the ordinary, you may be able to address them early on.

Causes of Red Paws on Dogs

"Why are my dog’s paws red?", you might ask. If your dog’s paws are red, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause. To give you an idea, here are the possible causes of red paws on dogs:


Like humans, dogs can have allergies too. For example, they may be allergic to pollen, certain foods, fleas, mold, and grass, among others. The allergy may manifest in their skin, especially around their feet, causing itchy and inflamed paws (a.k.a. contact dermatitis according to NCBI research).


This occurs when there is skin inflammation and lesions on a dog's paw. Areas that may be affected include paw pads, the skin in between their toes, nails, and nail folds. More than one paw may be affected at the same time.

Yeast infections

Areas that are inflamed or develop moisture may be susceptible to yeast infections. They most commonly occur in the ears, paws, groin, armpit, and areas between folded skin (in some breeds). When a yeast infection flares up, it may cause dog paws to be red and itchy as a result.

Bacterial infections

When there’s skin inflammation, bacteria that may make their way into the cracks of your dog’s paws may result in bacterial infections. Oftentimes, the infected paw pad exhibits redness and swelling and may also have a bad odor.


"Why are my dog’s paws red between the toes?" you may be wondering. One possible cause is parasites.

Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites may choose to reside and bite your dog’s paws. Note that there are also parasites that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, so your veterinarian may need to do a skin scrape to confirm the presence of certain parasites.


Contrary to what its name may imply, ringworm is not a worm. Rather, it is a fungus that may be characterized by red circular lesions or flaky patches of skin, often with loss of hair in the area. These lesions may appear in any part of a dog’s body but are common on a dog’s paws, ears, head, and legs.

Extreme temperatures

When temperatures are extreme, it may affect your dog’s paw pads. For example, walking on hot or frozen surfaces may cause burns to a dog’s paw pads. As a result, they may repeatedly lick their paws to relieve the pain, which may lead to bacterial infections as well.

Cuts, abrasions, and blisters

When your dog gets a cut, abrasion, or blister on their paws, this may cause irritation and inflammation around the area.

Growths or cysts

There’s also a possibility of interdigital growths or cysts forming in between your canine friend’s toes. These are more common in dogs with wide paws, as well as in dog breeds with short hair.

Anxiety or boredom

If your dog’s paws are red from licking and chewing and certain conditions have been ruled out, it could be a behavioral problem such as boredom or anxiety. Since anxious and bored dogs are more prone to compulsive behavior, they may resort to licking and chewing their paws, which may cause further redness and irritation if done repeatedly.

Other possible causes include foreign bodies that may become stuck in between their paws, ingrown toenails, insect bites, and stings, among others.

How to Treat Red Dog Paws

Upon noticing symptoms of red dog paws, it is best to consult with your veterinarian for them to properly diagnose and recommend treatment options for the specific cause.

If your dog’s paws are red due to a food allergy, for example, it is important to find out which food causes the reaction so that you can eliminate it from their diet. On the other hand, if there is a bacterial infection, your vet may prescribe antibiotics and recommend antibacterial shampoos as well. If your dog is diagnosed with demodectic mange, antiparasitic medications may be prescribed.

Treatment depends on what is causing your dog’s paws to be red. Therefore, it is important to determine the cause to provide the appropriate treatment. Generally, red paws due to infections, parasites, or foreign bodies may be directly treated. Meanwhile, if it’s due to a skin condition or an allergy, management of the symptoms is the usual course of action. Treating tumors would depend on how much they have grown and whether they are cancerous or not.

How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment

Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund may help in emergency cases when red paws on dogs become severe, such as when their paws get injured, causing deep wounds, lacerations, or rupture of cysts or growths, among others. With a Pet Emergency Fund, you won’t have to worry about the expenses involved in treating your dog’s paws. Rather, you can focus on being there with them throughout their treatment and recovery.


If a dog has a red paw, can dog food cause it?

If your dog is allergic to an ingredient in their dog food, this may manifest in their skin, causing red and itchy paws, for instance. If so, it is essential to determine what their food allergy is so you can opt for foods without the ingredient that they may be allergic to.

If a dog keeps licking their red paws, what are the risks?

Licking, chewing, or gnawing at their paws may lead to infections and further inflammation. Because of this, it is best to address the cause of their red paws as soon as possible to prevent secondary conditions.

How do I treat my dog’s red paws at home?

This would depend on why your dog has red paws. If it’s a fungal or bacterial infection, medicated shampoos may aid in relieving the pain and moisturizing the affected area. However, note that it is important to consult with your vet first before starting any home treatment.


Because dogs use their paws every day, they may be susceptible to infections, allergies, parasites, and injury, among others. If they show any symptoms of red paws, such as licking and biting the paw(s) and difficulty walking, it is best to consult with your vet to have your dog diagnosed and treated.

Preventive measures such as cleaning your dog’s paws, making sure that they don’t walk on surfaces with extreme temperatures, and making sure that their nails aren’t too long may help.

Was this article helpful?

Help us make our articles even better

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback