Swollen Dog Paws: How To Treat Pododermatitis in Dogs

Four minutes
Jun 25, 2024

Few things are as cute as a dog with big paws. But if your pup’s paws suddenly seem larger than normal, it could be a sign of a health issue — and those aren’t cute at all! Keep reading to learn how to recognize swollen dog paws, identify potential causes, and decide on the best course of treatment for your furry friend.

MetLife Pet Insurance can help reimburse vet bills if your dog has a swollen paw and needs to see a vet. And with some of the shortest waiting periods on the market, coverage can start as soon as midnight the day you sign up.1 Get your free pet insurance quote.

Why Is My Dog’s Paw Swollen?

There could be any number of reasons your dog may be experiencing swollen paws, also known as pododermatitis.2 Dog paws are more sensitive than you might expect and can be irritated by something as simple as a pebble getting stuck between their toe pads. It’s a good idea to check your pup’s paws after going for a walk to make sure there’s no debris causing them problems.

Other causes of dog pododermatitis can range from simple overuse (like when your feet get sore from a long walk) or from spending too much time on irritating surfaces, such as hot asphalt in summer.3,4

When To Worry About Pododermatitis in Dogs

There are also more severe issues that could cause swollen dog paws. These may include:4

Pain Relief Doesn’t Have To Cost a Lot

Pet Insurance Can Help

Any of these potential causes could develop into a more serious problem that requires an emergency vet visit. If you suspect your dog’s swollen paw to be caused by one of these issues, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet for a closer look. But some home remedies could help alleviate your dog’s discomfort in the meantime.

Swollen Dog Paws: Home Remedy Options

If your dog’s paw is swollen, red, or otherwise irritated, here are some immediate steps you can take to address the issue:3

  1. Check for debris between the toe pads. Use sterilized tweezers to carefully remove any objects.
  2. Look for punctures, insect stings, or other wounds in the paw pad.
  3. Wash their paw(s) with warm water and dog-safe soap.
  4. Check your dog’s leg to ensure nothing is constricting blood flow, which could also cause swelling.
  5. Soak your dog’s paws in warm water and Epsom salts for about 10 minutes.

This is general advice that may bring your dog fast relief. It’s still a good idea to bring your pup to the vet for a closer inspection. Here are a few more treatment tips for some of the specific causes mentioned above:4

  • Bee sting/insect bite: If you can locate the stinger, carefully remove it with tweezers. Apply a cold compress to the afflicted area and monitor your dog for signs of a more serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing.
  • Paw cuts/lacerations/injuries: Contact your vet if you’ve identified any obvious wounds. Stitches may be required for a more serious injury.
  • Infected paw: Look for hives and discharge coming from your dog’s paw. Your vet may recommend antibiotics or other treatments depending on the infection. Regularly wash your dog’s paws and keep a clean environment to avoid future infections.
  • Allergies: Allergies could cause dog pododermatitis. You’ll need to work with your vet to identify your pup’s allergies, and then remove said allergens from your home.
  • Arthritis: Dogs with arthritis may experience swollen paws, in addition to joint stiffness and pain. Work with your vet to get a diagnosis and develop a therapy plan.
  • Contact dermatitis: This occurs when your dog’s paw comes into contact with an irritating substance, such as poison oak. Avoid known irritants and pollutants, and consider using dog booties when outdoors.
  • Tumors: Some forms of cancer can cause your dog’s paws to swell and develop growths. Have your dog examined immediately if you suspect this is the case.

Vet Bills Can Be A Pain in The Paw. Pet Insurance Can Help.

Swollen dog paws can be irritating for pups and parents alike, especially when you factor in the cost of diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, a dog insurance policy could help cover the cost of both. For example, MetLife Pet Insurance was able to reimburse Bucky’s parents 90% of their $360 vet bill after the Georgia pup experienced a swollen paw from contact dermatitis!5

With fully customizable pet insurance, MetLife Pet makes it easy to get coverage that fits your budget. That means you could get reimbursed for diagnostic tests, medications, emergency surgery, and more — all for an affordable monthly premium. And if you opt for our Preventive Care add-on, you can be reimbursed for routine wellness visits, teeth cleanings, and flea and tick meds. Find out if pet insurance is worth it for you and your dog, or get a free quote to see how much you could save today.

We can help handle the vet bill.
You handle the belly rubs.

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 Accident and optional Preventive Care coverage begins on midnight EST of the effective day of your policy compared to a wait time of 2 to 15 days for many competitors; Illness coverage begins 14 days from the effective day of your policy compared to 14 to 30 days for many competitors. Based on a March 2024 review of publicly available summary information. Competitors did not furnish copies of their policies for review. If you have questions about a particular competitor's policy or coverage, please contact them or their representative directly.

2 “Pododermatitis in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals,

3 “Dogs Swollen Paws - Swollen Paws in Dogs Treatments,” PetMD,

4 “10 Reasons Your Dogs Paws are Swollen,” VO Vets,

5 All claims paid amounts are based on MetLife Pet internal claims data from November 2023. This example is for illustrative purposes only. This is based on a policy with a $100 deductible and 90% reimbursement. The pet policy issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company is the governing document with respect to all matters of insurance. The specific facts of each claim must be evaluated in conjunction with the provisions of the applicable Policy to determine coverage in each individual case.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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