Stop Infection

Lick Granuloma in Dogs – 11 Potent Treatments

I have two dogs (a golden retriever mix and a pit bull mix) and they both show their anxiety in different ways.  The pit mix will quietly lick at his paw all evening if I didn’t stop him.  

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Luckily, he’s never broken the skin or caused a lick granuloma. However, I can see how easy it could happen and I definitely keep an eye on it.

The common-sense approach is to wrap off the area so the dog can’t get to it anymore.  That would be easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple with a persistent and anxious dog. 

My dog has had other injuries that required bandaging and he just chewed it off within minutes.

An Elizabethan collar might work for a short time, but (in my opinion) would likely just frustrate the dog even more!  There has to be an answer, right?

In this post, I’m going to show you what to do about lick granuloma in dogs before it gets to the secondary skin infection stage.

Check out what a lick granuloma really looks like!

Lick Granuloma In Dogs

Dealing with Acral Lick Granuloma Isn’t Easy.

Acral lick granuloma doesn’t start out with such a big name. It actually begins as a little irritation on sore on the skin.

Dogs lick at sores as a comforting measure as well as a way of keeping the area soothed and groomed. Unfortunately, the obsessive licking keeps the area moist, and that moist skin breeds bacteria. 

Eventually, the skin is simply damaged right down to the baseline, leaving the veterinarian with few options for treatment.

You may have noticed that the location of a lick granuloma is commonly found on the forelimb where the dog has easy access to it.

It starts out small and then quickly develops into a red, raised, mess.  Keep reading to understand some of the reasons and treatments for this condition.

1. Allergies

Acral lick granulomas (or acral lick dermatitis) could begin as an allergy.  Certain dogs are more prone to allergies than others and the pinpointing the cause can be frustrating.  You should suspect allergies if your dog has:

  • Extremely itchy or scabbed skin
  • Itchy eyes. You might notice your dog pawing at his face more often, or sliding his face across the grass, furniture, or your legs to stop the itching.
  • Itchy tail.  A dog with an itchy tail will suddenly spin around and try to catch it.  He will dig at his hind quarters or over-groom the genital area in an attempt to stop the itching at the base of the tail.
  • Itchy ears.  One of my dogs has a particularly itchy ear that never shows any sign of real infection. She doesn’t have fleas or mites. Nevertheless, she frequently digs at her ears and the side of her face so much that I worry her nails are going to catch her eye.  I’m keeping a close eye on this right now and intend to have the veterinarian check it out.
  • Sneezing.  Just like you or I, dogs will often sneeze as a result of the irritants that cause allergies.

Of course, these are just a few signs of allergies that might lead to lick granuloma. For a full list of allergy symptoms in dogs, read my post on Dog Pyoderma Research Using Low Level Lasers 2018.

Any time your dog seems out of ordinary, please bring him to the veterinarian for a full check-up.  I am not a veterinarian and I would not want you to interpret anything I’ve written here as gospel.

Have a look at this image I found on Twitter.  It doesn’t look nearly as bad as I’ve described, but this might be the time to start treating…before it gets much worse.

2. Dog Food Quality is a Must

Dog food that isn’t nutritionally balanced and appropriate for the dog breed could create prime breeding ground for an over-abundance of yeast growth, dry skin (causing itchiness) or any number of other systemic or external conditions. 

I’m not saying that a good bag of dog food is the full answer to lick granuloma in dogs. However, you might be surprised at just how far good nutrition can go.

Different dogs have various nutritional needs depending on any other underlying conditions, their weight, breed, food tolerance, etc. 

I started using Royal Canin Weight Management for my two dogs and I’ve noticed a big improvement in their bowel movements, energy levels, and general health. 

I only recommend products that I’ve actually used for my dogs, and this is a product I really like.  You should see an ad for Royal Canin at the top of this post. If you click on the link, you won’t be charged or obligated to anything, but it does help me by paying out a small amount of money.  That money enables me to keep writing posts about dog health.

3. Royal Canin – Improved Health & Veterinarian Approved

My veterinarian carries this in the clinic, but I can also get the same thing at the pet store. There’s very little difference in the cost no matter where I buy it.

Yes, it’s a lot more expensive than grocery-store kibble, but the added fiber and lack of filler makes my dogs stay full longer. 

The type of Royal Canin I use for my dogs might be completely different than what your dog requires. That’s why I always recommend talking with a canine nutritionist, or your regular veterinarian.

Just because a product is expensive, doesn’t mean it’s good.

4. It Might be Time to Address Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety also plays a role in the development of lick granuloma. Some dogs find great comfort in repeatedly licking one spot over and over again. The process of licking their skin releases serotonin in the brain, the feel-good hormone. You could say that this obsessive licking is a form of self-medication for the dog.  I always recommend books by Cesar Milan for tips on behavioural modification. 

Cesar focuses a lot of attention on what you, the dog owner, can do to improve the situation. I’ve read all of his books and have no hesitation in suggesting them to you.

The trick to these books is that you have to be open to the suggestions and willing to carry them out over the long-term.

5. Boredom is Just Another Word for Trouble

Bored dogs quickly become anxious and restless and that anxiety is often the catalyst to begin obsessive licking.

What was once normal, healthy skin, becomes raw and inflamed and at risk of serious infection.  Hey, we all have to work and it’s impossible to bring your dog everywhere you go. 

The best cure for boredom is fatigue.  I don’t mean the kind of sickly fatigue that comes with poor health, I mean the type of mental and physical exhaustion that comes with healthy exercise and human interaction.  See below for more.

You might be interested in:  Your Complete Guide to Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy 

6. Psychiatric Medications

Rescue dogs can sometimes bring a variety of conditions with them to their new home, and separation anxiety seems to be fairly common. I admit I have no formal statistics to back this up.  This kind of data is not easy to find; however, there are plenty of anecdotes all over facebook forums that tell me I am not way off base. 

The problem with any kind of anxiety in dogs is the progression toward compulsive behaviour. Believe it or not, that constant licking can be comforting to the dog and that sense of well-being is something they want more of!  Unfortunately, it’s not something that psychoanalysis is going to stop.

Dogs who fall under this category may require a trial of antidepressants or other dog-approved anti-anxiety medications. It seems extreme, but sometimes it’s necessary. 

The last thing you want is a dog with severely infected skin. Staph infections are serious and sometimes deadly.  Suddenly, what was once a tiny bite or other anomaly has morphed into a medical emergency.

If your veterinarian suggests this type of treatment for a lick granuloma, don’t be afraid to give it a try.  It might not be the cure-all that you were looking for, but in some cases the medication can relax the dog’s mind enough to be able to instil new behaviours. 

You might want to work with a canine behaviourist while your dog is on medication to facilitate new behaviour in your dog. Later, when the antidepressant is weaned off, the hope is that you and your dog will have had time to effectively work with the dog to bring about change.

Learn how to Wean Your Dog Off of Prozac!

7. Nutritional Supplements and Anti-Anxiety Vests

Nutritional supplements are used for a number of conditions including joint, eye, immune, and bone health.  However, they can be expensive and a shot in the dark if you don’t know exactly what you need.

In my opinion, the best person to ask is the veterinarian. He/she may have supplements available for sale in the clinic. If you find they’re too expensive, don’t be afraid to ask about other brands that might offer the same value for less money.

If the veterinarian feels the cause of your dog’s lick granuloma is anxiety, consider trying a snug anti-anxiety vest.  Personally, I’m not entirely convinced they work, but I think the trick is to get one that fits properly. 

It must be relatively tight in order to stimulate pressure-points.  If you’ve ever had a therapeutic massage, you know how calm you feel afterwards.  Your dog is no different.  Patting him is calming, but an anti-anxiety vest provides a much longer and more therapeutically calming state.

8. Laser Therapy

Some veterinarians will use lasers to treat the tissue.  The laser light passes over the destroyed and diseased tissue.  There’s little to no pain, however, because the laser effectively seals off the nerve endings at the site.


9. Exercise

Daily brisk walks, swimming, or running with other dogs in a dog park are all great ways to exercise your dog. 

The importance of regular exercise in dogs is often underrated when, in fact, it could actually be the number #1 way to avoid a number of problems including separation anxiety, obsessive licking, and other general signs of distress in your dog.

Exercise works the same way on a dog as it does for a human.  It promotes stronger cardiac function, better lung capacity, improved mood and behaviour, and it tires the dog’s mind so that those deep-seated feelings of anxiety and compulsion can’t quite make it to the surface.

In other words, dogs need lots of activity. When you tire out the body, you tire out the mind as well.

10. Appropriate Play Interaction

I’ve been in the company of dogs who, although loved by their family, wasn’t actively engaged in anything. Nobody got on the floor with him and looked him in the eye. They expected the dog to either entertain himself, or “go outside”.  Of course, when he acted up, they couldn’t figure out why.

I know you’re not that extreme, but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our busy days that we forget to toss the ball for the dog, or get on the floor and play with him/her.  I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. We all work, have other family responsibilities, and even try to do some things for our own health now and then!

The bottom line with dog ownership is the responsibility to keep him/her healthy and that means engaging the body, mind, and spirit.  Trust me, when you take the time to play engage with your dog, it’s worth every minute.

11. Antibiotics

Some veterinarians may opt to start out with an antibiotic in combination with other therapies including creams, ointments, and any interference necessary to keep your dog from continuously licking the hot spot.

Veterinarians will be the first to admit at just how frustrating acral lick granuloma can be. However, they all say that there is hope so long as the dog owner is willing to put in the time, testing, and follow-through necessary to regain the dog’s healthy skin tissue.

Long-term antibiotic use isn’t ideal, but it may be necessary in particularly stubborn lick granuloma.

I hope you got a lot from this post and – most importantly – that you’ll let me know if you think something is wrong.  Don’t worry, I can take constructive criticism, especially when I know it helps to keep our dogs safe!

It’s super easy to find me.   Just insert a comment below (scroll down)!

Have a look at this great infographic from a contributor to  This talks about reasons dogs lick.

Why do dogs lick? Infographic

Dog Pyoderma Research Using Low Level Lasers

Disclaimer: Before you read this post, I want to let you know that I am not a veterinarian.  I hope my posts give you some good information, but always bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian. Also, there could be links to affiliates on this page.


What Will I Learn About Dog Pyoderma?

In the short time it will take you to read this post you will learn a variety of things, including:

  • A quick way for the average person to spot pyoderma
  • Short lesson in how pyoderma develops and where it shows up on the dog’s body
  • A quick background on the studies being conducted on laser therapy.
  • New clinical trials that your dog might qualify for

Dog Pyoderma usually has an instigator somewhere!

I’ve written a few other posts related to dog allergies and dermatitis and the big take-away I’ve learned is that these primary conditions can cause enough trauma to the skin to allow staph bacteria entry. The more an area hurts or itches, the more your dog is going to lick it. You might even see your dog digging at spots with his teeth, which only makes it worse.

Other events that compromise the dog’s skin leaving it vulnerable to staph include:

  • bite wounds,
  • bug bites
  • ringworm
  • mange
  • contact with chemicals
  • flea allergy
  • other allergens including food

Also, your dog might have another underlying disease that would cause a general suppression of the immune system. These disease might include cancer or thyroid disease, for example.

Dog Pyoderma Research Using Low Level Lasers 2018









Okay, so explain how pyoderma happens in the first place?

As you may have read in my other posts, fleas, ticks, thyroid disease, various hormonal imbalances, certain medications and yeast skin infections can all be harbingers to the development of a dog pyoderma.

Parasites, for example, cause extreme itch. Your dog licks and digs at the spot with his tongue and paws. The constant irritation and saliva eventually cause an opening of the skin where staph bacteria take hold.

At this point, staph bacteria (Staphylococcus pseudintermedius) multiply and kill portions of skin leaving the immune system function cut off.  This means that white blood cells that the body normally disburses to heal injuries can’t do its job. This further compromises the dog’s immune system leading to a vicious cycle. Veterinarians report that dog pyoderma is a disgusting condition that is very hard to treat. Staphylococcal antibiotic resistance is a possibility.


Clinical signs include:

  • small blisters (look like pimples) – known as pustules
  • small inflammed bumps and lumps that spread out and have no pus inside
  • bits of dead skin cells that look like crust
  • open sores
  • hair loss

Making the Right Diagnosis

In order to make an accurate diagnosis of pyoderma, he/she will typically do the following:

Signs and symptoms of dog pyoderma can occur anywhere on the skin, but are most often found on the trunk of the body in places where there is less fur.

The Risk of Recurring Dog Pyoderma

  • Antibiotic Resistence
  • Further decrease in immune function

Watch the short video below. Yes, it’s designed for veterinarian professionals, but it’s interesting how they can use focused laser therapy to blast tumors away!



Is Low Level Laser Therapy the NEW Antibiotic?

Focused ultrasound using low-level laser therapy is not designed to take the place of current medication/treatment options.   Research is currently underway to determine just how effective this new therapy will be on dogs.  In addition, the successful use on dogs could mean a whole new treatment for ourselves. Imagine being able to dissolve a tumor without invasive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.


Dog Pyoderma is considered a difficult skin infection for a few reasons:

  •  the immune system quickly comes compromised
  • one a dog has pyoderma once, there’s a good chance it will come back
  • antibiotic resistance occurs.

If your dog is diagnosed with pyoderma for the first time, he/she may recommend antibiotics combined with medicated baths. Before that recommendation, however, the doctor will want to look for fleas, ticks, worms, and other pathogens through the various tests mentioned above.  These conditions are known as “flare factors” as they relate to the development of dog pyoderma.


Low-Level Laser Therapy for Dog Pyoderma

I urge you to watch the youtube video above if you haven’t already.  Learn about focused ultrasound and how it works on tumors. The veterinarian goes into detail about the use of low-level laser therapy for the treatment of pyoderma in dogs.  He’s a fast-talker and I think its meant for veterinarian professionals, but if I could understand the gist of it…I know you can too.  It’s fascinating.

You won’t find laser therapy for dog pyoderma in every veterinarian clinic.  It’s expensive to train a person to use it and expensive to purchase. For that reason, small, rural clinics (for example) may opt out. However, the clinic might be able to offer a referral to a qualified technician.

Some ways that laser therapy has been used in dogs include:

  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • sprains
  • pulled muscles
  • inflammatory skin infections
  • ear infections
  • anal gland abscess
  • to aid in healing post-operatively


Will Laser Therapy Hurt my Dog?

No, low-level laser therapy is pain-free and has been shown to actually be relaxing for dogs.

Here’s how it works:

These “cold” lasers penetrate into the tissue where it stimulates nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation, and immune system response.  As a result, the low-level laser therapy reduces any pain or inflammation, while speeding up the healing process.

Costs for a single treatment can range from $35 and up.  The number of treatments needed to aid dog pyoderma will depend on how advanced the skin infection is and how well the dog is treating to other interventions like antibiotic use or medicated baths.

If you think low level laser therapy might be a good option for your dog, don’t be afraid to ask. Your veterinarian might be able to recommend or provide a good practitioner who is experienced in treating canine disorders.  From what I understand, pyoderma can be a real pain-in-the-behind to treat. By keeping ahead of fleas and ticks, and providing monthly topical anti parasite medications, your dog might escape unscathed from this smelly skin condition.

In addition to what you’ve just read, I wanted to offer you a more comprehensive look at what low laser light therapy is all about.  Click HERE to read what the veterinarian manual has to say about the topic.

At the end of the day, we all want healthy and happy dogs. To recap:  It’s vital to follow at-home administration of medications to your dog as prescribed by the veterinarian. Please don’t introduce other treatments (homeopathic, natural, organic, or otherwise) before speaking to the veterinarian. Even those products are described as natural doesn’t meant there are no side-effects or complications with other drugs.

As your dog receives antibiotics, he/she might seem better after just a few days to a week. Keep administering those meds! Early discontinuation will bring back any bacteria that hadn’t been fully eradicated.  And you know what happens then? It starts all over again.

For more information on skin disorders in dogs, check out my post on the 19 Essential Facts About Treating Demodectic Mange.

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WAIT! Before you go anywhere I’d like to thank you for reading my post and I really hope you’ll come back.  Better yet…sign up for my email newsletter. WHY? Because I’ve got a bunch of exciting things coming and I don’t want you to miss any of it. I’m thinking courses in canine massage, anatomy & physiology, and more….all to help you keep your pooch happy and healthy.







    7 Common Flavors of Dermatitis in Dogs That Need Treatment

    Nothing causes me more stress than seeing my dog distressed. The itching, clawing, and digging has me wishing for a miracle cure.  Unfortunately, there is not an over-night solution for dermatitis in dogs.  All I know is that when I get one little mosquito bite, I go into a frenzy of itchy aggravation! Imagine what our dogs feel like.

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    Here is the good news: Active and ongoing treatment significantly improves the dog’s quality of life.

    I have poured through peer-reviewed studies and reports to find the best treatment options for canine dermatitis.  By the time you are finished reading this post, you will have a better understanding of dermatitis in dogs, along with the most common treatment options available.

    Although not detailed in this post, the following Tweet illustrates what lick dermatitis looks like:

    The Flavor of Dermatitis in Dog

    Detecting skin irritations is easy. Dermatitis, which simply means “inflammation”, could describe any number of skin conditions. Treating an itch is one thing, but getting to the root of the problem is much harder.

    I have outlined the different reasons for dermatitis below:

    IMPORTANT: Veterinarians know to treat secondary skin infections first. Infections of the skin develop because of trauma caused by excessive itching, chewing and biting.  Depending on the severity, topical or systemic antibiotics are required to clear the infection.

    The following Tweet from the Canadian Health Institute shows an example of dermatitis in dogs:

    1. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema): 

    This means your dog was born with a genetic predisposition to the condition. Certain breeds including Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Dalmatians (to name a few) are susceptible to atopic dermatitis.

    Atopic dermatitis is usually identified within the first few years of a puppy’s life and is characterized by severe itching, biting the skin (especially the paws), reddened skin, and exposed skin where the fur has been worn away from scratching.  It develops slowly, over time, and you might not recognize it until the symptoms are worse.

    Long Term Treatment Options

    After the treatment of any secondary infections, you can   a few things you can do to lessen the severity of the itching include:

    • Keeping the skin moisturized by adding coconut oil to your dog’s food or rubbing it into the dog’s skin.  NOTE:  Do not start with this until you know if your dog has food sensitivities. When you use coconut oil, watch to see if the symptoms get worse and stop that particular treatment.
    • Providing a good source of Omega-3 to dogs.
    • Anti-itch topical ointments.
    • Antihistamine relief from over-the-counter medications as suggested by a licensed veterinarian. Benadryl is a commonly used antihistamine for dogs. There are also prescription antihistamines that the veterinarian might recommend.
    • Anti-fungal sprays and creams.

    Dermatitis in dogs tends to go through peaks and valleys.  Fleas, pollen, insect dander, and other allergens tend to be worse during certain times of the year (except in year-round warm regions). Once you understand that cycle, you will be able to prepare ahead by supporting your dog’s nutritional needs, providing antihistamine relief sooner rather than later and maintaining year-round parasitic control.

    The following short video from YouTube talks about solutions for dermatitis in dogs.

    1. Flea Allergy:

    Some dogs are allergic to fleabites. The saliva elicits an intense allergic response including severe itching. Your dog might chew and gnaw at the hot spots, creating prime conditions for secondary skin infections.

    The first place you will notice a flea allergy is along the dog’s back end and tail. You might feel raised bumps on the skin or notice fur loss where your dog has been chewing and rubbing the skin.

    Treatment options include:

    • Year-round topical medicine for flea control. I use Advantage for my dogs, and it works great, while also taking care of ticks. Your veterinarian will suggest the best medication for your dog.
    • Eliminate fleas from the home environment in order to capture the flea’s full life cycle. Read more about the flea cycle here.
    • Medications to reduce severe itching.
    1. Ringworm

    Ringworm, caused by a fungus, is surprisingly common and contagious. It is similar to athlete’s foot. Protein sources (think of the keratin found in hair/fur) feed the ringworm infection.

    Dogs can contract ringworm from other animals and from contaminated soil.

    Symptoms include circular rashes on the dog’s body, lesions and areas of fur loss.  Most dogs show signs of ringworm on the belly and groin, although it can spread all over the skin.

    Treatment Options Include:

    • Medicated, anti-fungal, anti-itch shampoo.
    • Topical ointment formulated to combat ringworm.
    • prescription medication
    • Natural treatment could include a number of products available at reputable online and retail stores.
    • Propolis is made up of 50-55% resin, 30% wax, 5%nutritional and environmental elements, and pollens complete the mixture.  Propolis comes from bees

    4. Environmental Dermatitis in Dogs:

    Allergens like dust, mold, mites, plants, and insect feces can trigger environmental allergies (known as atopy).

    It’s impossible to completely remove these factors from our lives, so if your dog has environmental allergies, he/she may require a three-pronged approach to treatment including:

    • a balanced diet consisting of raw foods which can be used alone or in combination with a nutritionally balanced vet-recommended commercial dog food,
    • regular irrigation therapy, which is simply bathing your dog to wash irritants out of the fur and away from the skin,
    • Invest in a good quality air purifier

    Ongoing or intermittent steroid use might be required, along with other veterinarian prescribed treatments.

    1. Bacterial

    Bacterial infections occur when the dog’s skin breaks open from excessive scratching, chewing and biting. It is a secondary infection caused by the allergen.

    Treatment Options Include

    • antibiotic prescribed by veterinarian
    • topical antibacterial cream or ointment
    • medication shampoos
    1. Yeast   

    The presence of excess yeast (which lives on the skin and in the gut), can show up as greasy skin/fur, dark red patches between the dog’s toes, black spots on the skin, and a foul smell.

    Yeast infections, known as Malassezia dermatitis, are caused by a suppressed immune system (sometimes caused by corticosteroids; i.e. steriods), and from excess oil on the skin caused by conditions like seborrhea oleosa and allergies. Dogs with seborrhea oleosa will usually have oily, scaly skin with possible secondary skin infections.

    Treatment Options Include:

    • application of over-the-counter Monistat (typically used for vaginal infection) 
    • synthetic anti-fungal medication

    REMEMBER: Any treatment options whether all natural or synthetic can cause side effects.

    1. Food Allergies

    Food allergies are difficult to pinpoint and require a food elimination diet. In my opinion, the most effective way is to use a commercially prepared dog food formulated for an elimination diet. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you which one to get.  Dogs have to remain on this diet for a while, sometimes months, and cannot eat any other food during the treatment.

    When the dog’s allergies subside, the veterinarian will instruct you to begin gradually adding food back into the dog’s diet until the culprit(s) is found.

    The Hypo-Sensitization Treatment

    This medical treatment involves injecting small amounts of the allergen to elicit a response from the immune system. Over-time, the body develops a resistance or immunity.

    Hypo-sensitization (allergy injection) statistics:

    • take as long as 12 months to become effective
    • it’s estimated that as many as 65% of animals treated show remarkable improvement
    • it does not work for 20% of animals.

    Veterinary Dermatology, an International Journal (Volume 9, Number 3, June 2018) released a previously published abstract (April, 2002) on the effects of hypo-sensitization in dogs with dermatitis.

    • 169 dogs were studied
    • 1-year treatment based on results of intradermal skin tests (skin-prick), or blood work.


    • Excellent, meaning this treatment alone took care of all clinical signs.   19.5%
    • Good, meaning there was a greater than 50%
    • improvements  32.5%
    • Moderate, meaning there was less than a 50% improvement 20.1%
    • No, meaning there was no change in symptoms and signs. 27.8%

    An Itchy Dog is an Unhappy Dog

    It is important to get your dog to the veterinarian if your dog shows signs of itching, especially if he/she is biting and chewing the skin.

    A veterinarian dermatologist is the best person to see for canine skin irritations. However, if you live in a small rural area like I do, there probably is not a veterinarian specialist around. That’s okay! Veterinarians commonly see dermatitis in dogs.

    I hope you can use the tips and information I’ve given you. Please go ahead and share with your friends and family. Dermatitis is so common that you probably know someone else looking for information.  Go ahead and pass it on.

    Everything You Need to Know About Swollen Dog Paws

    I was walking through the house last summer when I noticed bloody paw prints all through the house. Alarmed, I lifted my dog’s paws, one-by-one. The culprit was a huge gash on the big-toe pad.  As soon as I saw all the blood and that swollen dog paw, I was sure he must be in a lot of pain. Remarkably, he didn’t seem to be in any pain at all! 

    Lumps, bumps, bruises, and cuts are common and normal in a healthy, active dog.  If you’re anything like me, you probably jump to the worst case scenario when your dog comes down with something.

    To help ease your concerns, I am going to explain all of the most likely problems causing your dog’s swollen paw. You will have a better understanding of the reasons behind swollen dog paws, how to manage it at home, and when to know if a trip to the veterinarian is recommended.


    When you consider that your dog runs around “barefoot” all day, it’s amazing they don’t have injuries more often than they do. Some of the more common injuries that could cause swollen dog paws include:

    1. Minor Infection

    An inflamed paw could easily be caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria enters the body through a cut or abrasion. It can be caused by airborne bacteria, but (in a dog’s paw) is more likely caused by bacteria in the soil.

    White blood cells multiply in an attempt to fight the bacteria. They gather around the offending substance and create a protective pocket (inflammation). The swelling is a sign that the body’s immune system is working properly. It creates signs (warmth, redness, swelling, and pain) that tell us something is wrong.

    Before the skin becomes infected, clean the cut right away. Use antiseptic wipes or peroxide on a clean, soft cloth to wipe away any impurities as soon as you see open skin.

    Prevent your dog from licking at the cut until it heals over. The more your dog licks at it, the longer it will take to heal, and the greater the chance of infection.

    • Nail Injury

    Dogs who walk or run on asphalt, cement, or rocky terrain can easily injure a nail.  Generally, a dog’s nails are strong and healthy. They are usually able to withstand the common wear-and-tear of everyday life.  However, any outdoor activity could cause the dog’s nails to wear down, chip, and even break.

    Trim your dog’s nails regularly or take him/her to the groomer. My rule of thumb is:  is you can hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when he/she walks, it’s time to trim the nails.

    You have to watch this HILARIOUS video of a nutty dog getting his nails trimmed.

    • Pad Injury or Cuts (leading to infection)

    Think about the places you bring your dog and then consider whether you’d feel comfortable running around in your bare feet?  Twigs, sticks, pea gravel, hot asphalt, children’s toys, automobile parts, broken glass, nails, and just about everything else you can imagine are often found in parking lots, yards or on the side of the street.

    • Insect bites

    I am from Nova Scotia, and the types of insect bites we get around here are nothing more than a nuisance. It hurts when they bite, but there’s nothing venomous or particularly dangerous. However, there are a few exceptions.  Allergies to bees, mosquitoes, and deer flies have been shown to leave quite a welt on the skin after being bitten. It’s painful and itchy. The area becomes red and swelling occurs around the site of the bite.

    Dogs are susceptible to the same bites and stings as us. Their sensitive paws can easily become inflamed from allergies, bites, diseases and congenital conditions.

    • Embedded object in the paw

    It’s very possible your dog has something embedded in his paw.  If he’s in pain, you may need to muzzle him long enough to conduct a quick exam to see if you can find the culprit.

    An embedded object can be any size. If you can see it, and it’s safe to do so, gently pull the embedded object from the paw, using tweezers if necessary. Wipe around the wound with a disinfectant or antibacterial cream.

    Swollen dog paws are not your fault, as seen in this funny Twitter clip:
    • Grass Seed

    In some parts of the world (Australia, United Kingdom), grass seeds are common, but painfully serious for dogs who get them. The seeds are small and arrow-shaped at the tip. Grass bits easily get tangled up in the dog’s fur, particularly the paw.

    This type of grass seed will burrow into the dog’s fur and make its way to the skin. It soon embeds itself into the skin and will work its way right into the dog’s body where it will get infected.

    No matter where you live, consider grass seeds, or other types of flora and fauna that might cause infection and swelling in your dog’s paw.

    • Poison Ivy

    I never thought dog’s could be affected by poison ivy, but apparently they can. Short dogs with less fur coverage could easily walk through a patch of poison ivy, creating a blistered rash over any skin exposed to the toxic oil.

    Of course, any dog could walk over the plant, causing red, irritated paws. You’ll notice tiny bumps that look like pimples.  Given the location of the paws, there’s a good chance those “pimples” (called papules) will break open. If that happens, the irritant spreads further.

    Use gloves before touching or treating the area if you suspect your dog has been exposed to poison ivy.  Call the veterinarian. He/she will be able to prescribe a topical ointment to treat the area.

    The video below is a lighthearted take on a very itchy dog.

    • Yeast

    This type of infection doesn’t necessarily cause swollen dog paws, but it can cause itchy, irritated skin. You might notice a thickening of the skin and a strong musty odor. Yeast infections are common in dogs and can be caused by medications (steroids), suppressed immune system, and an increase in oil secretions on the skin.

    Mild cases are treated with anti-fungal, medicated shampoos. More severe cases may require anti-fungal medications.

    • Pododermatitis

    Pododermatitis isn’t actually a condition, but the term used to describe skin inflammation. In particular, it is the inflammation of skin between the toes and foot pads.

    This type of inflammation can be caused by:bite

    Swollen Dog Paws Are Rarely Caused by Cancer, But…

    Sometimes, nodules felt between your dog’s toes are cancerous tumors. A reddish, small nodule could be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma and should be looked at by a veterinarian.

    Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant cancer that usually only affects one toe. Normally, it affects the skin, bone, and tissue around the nail. 

    If the veterinarian suspects cancer, he/she will likely want to do a biopsy on the tissue before proceeding with treatment.

    Big Cut –  Big Blood

    If there is a relatively big cut on the paw pads, there is going to be a lot of blood. The paws are sensitive and difficult to heal.  This happened to my dog and it took a lot of gauze and wrap to hold the cut together and stop the bleeding.

    After a day of trying to manage the cut, I took him to the veterinarian. The veterinarian STAPLED his paw back together. I was horrified but surprised at how little it bothered my dog.

    The Twitter image below isn’t my dog, but it certainly represents how disgusting it was!

    If There is no Cut

    Take a minute to do a quick assessment.

    • How do the nails look?  
    • Are there any broken nails?
    • Are the nails discolored anywhere?
    • Are there any lumps or bumps on the paw? (Very gently feel around, especially between the toes where they might remain unseen).
    • Does your dog have a fever? (You can sometimes gauge a fever my feeling the inside of your dog’s ears.  The most accurate way is to use a thermometer made specifically for dogs. Use lubricant and wear gloves. Gently insert the thermometer into the dog’s rectum.  Normal temperatures range from 101 degrees to 102.5 degrees).

    Your dog’s nature will dictate how this assessment and care goes down. Some dogs will need a muzzle or restraint, and other dogs will let you do the at-home examination with ease.

    My dog falls into the latter category, with a few exceptions. He’s nervous, but I’m able to manage him safely on my own.  If there is any risk of biting whatsoever, do not attempt these things on your own.


    The normal temperature for dogs is anywhere in the 101 degrees F to 102.5 degrees F.

    It’s very possible that the infection was brewing for a few days or longer. If your dog was going about his/her day business-as-usual, you would not have noticed any changes. The inflammation is one key indicator, especially if there is any redness, pain, itching, or pus.


    The good news is that infections are treatable. The trick is in discovering what caused the infection in the first place. It’s very possible your dog got a small nick, cut, or bite that simply became infected.  On the other hand, there could be an underlying condition that you’re not aware of.

    Anytime your dog has a serious enough injury to warrant first aid, or a test for fever, you really should bring him/her to the veterinarian for a professional assessment.

    Summing it Up

    Generally, swollen dog paws are the result of a paw injuries, allergies, or disease.

    If you can easily identify the cause of swelling, and you’ve carefully removed any embedded objects, carefully clean the area and apply ice. If the condition does not improve or gets worse, please bring your dog to the veterinarian.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not a veterinarian or trained medical practitioner.  My posts are conducted through reliable, trustworthy agencies, organizations, clinics, and hospitals. Please advise me immediately of any errors or omissions.  Your dog’s safety is important to me and I would never knowingly publish anything that might bring harm to you or your dog.

    Now that you have solid knowledge on what causes swollen dog paws, go ahead and share it with your friends and family.  Other dog lovers will appreciate this free gift!

    Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

    The symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs include pain when urinating, straining to pee, blood in the urine, cloudy looking urine. Your dog may also begin urinating in the house.

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    It might be easy to miss in the early stages, but as the infection worsens, you’ll notice more of the symptoms listed above.

    By the time you’re finished reading this post, you’ll have a good understanding of what causes URI’s in dogs and what can be done to treat them. This post includes traditional and alternative remedies for UTI in dogs.

    What Causes Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs?

    If you recognize symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs, bring your dog to the veterinarian before trying any of the natural remedies listed further down this post. 

    Why? Urinary tract infections can be caused by underlying conditions or disease that only a licensed veterinarian can diagnose.

    • Weak immune system
    • Kidney/bladder stones, crystals, or debris accumulation
    • Bladder disease
    • Bladder infection or inflammation
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer
    • Stress
    • Spinal cord or congenital abnormalities
    • Prostate disease

    An otherwise healthy dogs would have what is known as an “uncomplicated” infection.   In other words, there are no underlying functional, structural, or neurological problems.

    The treatment, usually a course of antibiotics, lasts from 10 to 14 days. You should notice improvement within a few days, but do not discontinue the antibiotics.

    Bacteria Resistance

    Early discontinuation of antibiotics is the leading cause of bacteria resistance. You might think the infection is gone, but it’s still there, quietly waiting for its chance to reappear.

    By stopping the antibiotics, you allow that to happen. That means yet another round of antibiotics. Meanwhile, bacteria become more and more resilient against these treatments.

    The YouTube video below offers info on signs of bladder infection in dogs.

    What If The Urinary Tract Infection is Complicated?

    That means the veterinarian suspects an underlying cause/disease and may want to investigate further.

    Depending on test results, treatment could involve antibiotics and anti inflammatory medication. 

    A complicated urinary tract infection might take longer to clear up, but will improve with time.  If your dog has a condition like diabetes, for example, it’s important to make sure insulin production is kept within normal levels. 

    Allowing any chronic condition to worsen only weakens your dog’s immune system further.

    Underlying Causes of Complicated UTI in Dogs

    The veterinarian will likely treat the UTI with a prescription of antibiotics and strict orders to return if the infection doesn’t clear up.

    Sometimes, the UTI will clear up but will return again once the antibiotics have been taken.  That could be due to an antibiotic resistance, or it could be bladder stones, bladder infection, weak bladder, hormonal disturbance, cancer, and stress.

    Signs of Bladder Infection in Dogs

    The urinary system includes the urinary tracts, kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.  All are very painful and might not be noticed in a dog until the symptoms become severe.

    Signs of a bladder infection in dogs could include:

    • Pees a lot
    • Pees or poops in the house
    • The dog’s urine is tinged rust or pink – blood in the urine
    • Dribbling urine.
    • It might hurt the dog to pee and he/she might cry out
    • Straining to urinate.
    • Frequently licks the genitals

    Natural Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

    Treating urinary tract infections in dogs should only be done after the diagnosis has been made, and under the approval of your veterinarian.

    Holistic/natural treatments should always be balanced with the “sound, accepted principles of veterinary medicine and the medical judgement of the veterinarian”.

    Holistic, or home remedies, might be better used to stave off a urinary tract infection in dogs without underlying disease, rather than treat an established infection.

    Increase Water Intake 

    You’ve probably heard the old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.  

    The same applies to dogs.  But…if you are able to encourage more fluid intake it could aid in flushing impurities out of the urinary tract. 

    Reducing signs of urinary tract infections in dogs will also reduce the discomfort your dog is feeling.

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Put 1–2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in your dog’s drinking water once or twice a day.  The common household vinegar has a lot of natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

    • Blueberries or Cranberry Juice

    These fruits are thought to inhibit bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining and help flush bacteria from your dog’s urethra.  Blueberries/cranberries may help lower the pH levels in your dog’s bladder.

    • Juniper Berry

    Juniper berry is a herb known for speeding up the rate the kidneys filter and flush out any impurities in the system.  It essentially acts as a diuretic. For that reason, you want to make sure your dog has plenty of water.

    Do not treat your dog with multiple herbs that may also act as diuretics. These include:



    Red Clover


    Raspberry Leaves

    • Vitamin C

    You can increase your dog’s vitamin C intake by grinding vitamin C tablets in their food. This may help fight urinary tract infections in dogs and boost your dog’s immune system. Vitamin C will also make your dog’s urine more acidic which will help in flushing out the bacteria and will promote faster healing.

    NOTE: Unlike their human counterparts, dogs produce their own supply of vitamin C (18 milligrams per pound of body weight each day).

    Citrus Juice

    Letting your dog drink fresh citrus juice will help restore their pH levels and help them fight off the bacteria. You can use fresh lemon, orange, and lime juices. 

    NOTE:  Urinary tract infections in dogs with diabetes require careful adherence to diet. Never give your dog any food or juice containing natural or artificial sugar unless the veterinarian gives the okay.

    Cooling Foods

    Eastern medicine supports the teaching that food can have warming or cooling properties. Offering your dog “cooling foods”, such as certain vegetables and fruits, is thought to aid in balancing the immune function.


    Keep in mind that some foods are either toxic to dogs, or hard on their stomachs. Do not feed your dog grapes, raw potatoes (cooked or dehydrated sweet potatoes are okay), tomatoes, onions, or mushrooms.

    Reminder:  Proper diagnosis is important in order to determine the real cause behind the infection and to make sure that there is no underlying serious disease.

    How to Prepare for the Veterinarian Appointment

    When you make an appointment with your vet, be prepared to answer questions like what kind of urinary changes did you observe? How long has your dog been unwell? Have you noticed any behavioral changes? 

    When discussing signs of urinary tract infections in dogs, the more information you can provide the better.

    If the veterinarian isn’t able to diagnose your dog with a physical examination, he/she might need to order urinalysis.

    Depending on your dog’s diagnosis, your vet may recommend the following treatments:



    Increased Fluid Intake

    Urinary Acidifiers

    Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy 

    Surgery (in the case of bladder stones, for example)

     Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Your Dog 

    There are things you can do as a pet owner to help prevent urinary tract infections.

    Keep your dog well hydrated.

    Use a cleanser formulated for dogs, especially around the urethra where bacteria can enter Take your dog outside to urinate more frequently. Dogs who have to hold their urine for 8 or more hours are more likely to get urinary tract infections.

    Avoid dry commercial foods which make the urine more alkaline.

    Last But Not Least

    Urinary tract infections do not get better without some form of treatment. If you suspect that your dog has an infection, seek advise from your veterinarian. The longer you let it go, the worse it’s going to get. You’re going to want to ease your dog’s pain as soon as possible. Getting a prescription antibiotic as fast as possible is recommended.

    Remember, I’m not a veterinarian.  I always suggest that you take your dog to a licensed veterinarian whenever you feel something is wrong.  I cannot and do not attempt to diagnose medical conditions in your dog.

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