Hey there, fellow pet parents! Have you ever spotted your furry friends suddenly licking their paws a bit too much? That might be pododermatitis, the medical term for irritated paws. Don't worry, though, it's quite common, and I’m here to help you understand its causes, spot the signs, and keep those paws happy and healthy.
Shall we jump right in?

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  1. What Causes Pododermatitis
  2. What Are the Signs of Pododermatitis
  3. How is Pododermatitis Treated
  4. How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

What Causes Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis is a condition that affects the paws of both dogs and cats, and it also goes by the name interdigital pyoderma or interdigital dermatitis.

Interdigital means in-between the digits (toes). It’s characterized by inflammation and infection in the skin between the toes and foot pads and can have several different causes. These include:

  • Skin mites and other parasites;
  • Splinters, thorns, or other foreign bodies;
  • Yeast infections;
  • Hypothyroidism and other metabolic or hormonal conditions;
  • Bacterial infections;
  • Tumors, both benign and malignant;
  • Trauma or injury;
  • Allergies.

Interdigital pyoderma is not a medical condition. Instead, it is a symptom of an underlying medical cause. Both the paw irritation and the root cause must be diagnosed and treated if you want your pet to return to full health. (Which, of course, you do!)

What Are the Signs of Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis is, quite literally, dermatitis between the digits — your cat's or dog’s toes. NCBI research states the following areas are affected:

  • Claws/nails;
  • Folds of claws or nails (paronychia);
  • Paw pads (the beloved toe beans);
  • Spaces between toes.

Symptoms can vary depending on the cause and your pet’s reaction. Licking the area over and over again, which often happens when pets experience irritation, leads to even more trauma and pain.

The most common symptoms of pododermatitis in dogs and cats are:

  • Swelling;
  • Redness;
  • Licking, scratching, or pawing at the affected area;
  • Pus (sign of infection);
  • Lesions (from one to multiples);
  • Scarring;
  • Nodules;
  • Kerions (fungal lesions);
  • Hair loss;
  • Ulcers;
  • Bad smell;
  • Scabs or crusts;
  • Limping or lameness;
  • Unusual pain-related behavior.

Some pets won’t have symptoms until the problem has grown, but others will have pain and obvious discomfort right from the very beginning. You know your pet’s regular behaviors and routines; keeping an eye on them with Pet Cameras or other interactive tools will help you spot problems as soon as possible. You’ll also be able to provide video footage of your pet’s symptoms and behavior patterns to your vet for an easier and quicker diagnosis.

How is Pododermatitis Treated

Treatment of pododermatitis depends on the underlying cause. It's important to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Remember, proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the well-being of your pet. If you suspect your dog or cat has pododermatitis, it's best to consult one of Petcube’s 24/7 vets for guidance.

Medications and Topical Treatments

If the pododermatitis is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, antibiotics and antifungal medications are prescribed, along with topical treatments that soothe and calm pain and irritation. This can include shampoo washes, specially formulated wipes, soaks, and more. Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relief are sometimes advised, too.

Treating the Cause

Of course, without diagnosing and treating the underlying cause, pododermatitis will keep coming back. If a foreign object is causing the issue, your veterinarian will likely need to remove it.

If allergies are the underlying cause, identifying and managing the allergen may be necessary. This could involve dietary changes, environmental modifications, or allergy medications. VCA Animal Hospital's research also recommends corticosteroids, immunotherapeutic injections, and/or immune-modulating medication.
Only by knowing what the problem is can you go on to solve it.

How Can the Emergency Fund Help with Treatment

One of the best things about Petcube’s Emergency Fund is that it brings so much more than just $3,000 worth of emergency medical care for your pets to the table. You’ll also have access to around-the-clock veterinarians, all of whom are trained and primed to answer your burning questions, no matter the time of day or night.
All of that leaves you with all the free time you need to play, entertain, and enjoy your cherished companions — and the spare cash to pamper them with all the toys in the pet store!


Can you prevent pododermatitis?

To some extent, yes, you can prevent pododermatitis. Regular paw inspection and cleaning will catch any problems early and potentially stop them before they start. You should also limit exposure to allergens if your pet is prone to allergies and keep your pet's living environment clean and free of potential irritants. Providing a well-balanced diet will support overall skin health.

What is the best treatment for pododermatitis in cats?

There is no one ‘best’ treatment for this condition in cats or dogs; the right treatment is appropriate for the condition and underlying cause. Without a diagnosis, you won’t know what to treat or how to treat it.

What is plasma cell pododermatitis in cats?

Plasma cell pododermatitis is a rare inflammatory condition in cats affecting the paw pads. Also known as "pillow foot," it's characterized by swollen, spongy paw pads and excessive plasma cells in the affected tissues. The exact cause is unclear, but it's thought to have immune or allergic origins, often responding well to treatment.


Pododermatitis in dogs and cats isn’t a serious condition, but it does have underlying causes that can be life-threatening. Not only that, but untreated infections can lead to sepsis and even death in pets and humans alike.

Untreated pododermatitis in pets can lead to severe pain, discomfort, and decreased mobility due to ongoing inflammation, infection, and tissue damage. In some cases, chronic pododermatitis can cause deep ulcerations, secondary infections, and even systemic health issues if left unaddressed.

Timely veterinary care is crucial to prevent these complications and ensure your pet's well-being.

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