It’s completely natural to feel concerned when we see something out of the ordinary with our furry friends.
Redness between your dog’s toes is a sign that your dog is experiencing some discomfort.
In this guide, we’ll discuss why this happens, how you can identify the cause, remedies to try at home, and when it’s important to see a vet.
Is Redness Between Toes Something Serious?
While it’s important not to panic, redness between a dog’s toes is definitely something to pay attention to.
The redness could be due to a simple irritation, or it might indicate a more serious underlying issue.
It’s much like how we humans can have minor skin irritations that lead to redness, but sometimes redness can be a sign of an infection or other health issue.
Understanding the cause is the first step towards treating your dog and helping them feel better. Let’s dig a bit deeper into some of the most common causes.
Does your dog have white bumps on the paw? (What that means!)
8 Common Causes of Redness Between Toes
Let’s run through the common causes behind redness between the toes to help give a better understanding of this issue.
Which cause applies to your dog will depend on your dog’s age, health, environment, routine and recent events that may have happened.
Just like people, dogs can be allergic to a variety of things, from food to environmental factors like pollen, dust mites, or mold.
If your dog has an allergy, exposure to the allergen could cause inflammation and itching, resulting in redness between their toes.
You might notice your dog licking or biting at their paws frequently, or they might have redness in other areas too, not just their paws.
➡️ Yeast Infection
The warm, moist areas between your dog’s toes are an ideal environment for yeast to grow.
While yeast naturally exists on the skin, it can get out of balance and overgrow, leading to an infection.
Yeast infections often cause a musty smell and can make your dog’s paws itchy, leading to redness from the constant licking and chewing.
➡️ Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections in dogs can be quite common, and their paws are often a primary target.
Bacteria can infiltrate through tiny cuts or abrasions, leading to an infection which may cause redness between the toes.
It’s often accompanied by other signs of infection such as swelling, heat, and sometimes pus or a foul smell.
If your dog is active and loves to run and play, they could easily get an injury that causes redness and swelling in their paws.
Look out for signs of limping, reluctance to put weight on the paw, or visible wounds or abrasions.
Parasites like fleas, ticks, or mites can cause significant irritation when they bite your dog’s skin.
The resulting redness, itching, and inflammation often leads to frequent paw licking or biting, which may worsen the redness.
➡️ Foreign Bodies
Sometimes, a small foreign object like a splinter or a piece of glass can get lodged in your dog’s paw.
This can lead to significant discomfort, causing your dog to lick or chew at the area, leading to redness.
Certain substances or chemicals can cause dermatitis, a condition that results in inflammation of the skin.
This can manifest as redness, itching, and swelling, which can be particularly noticeable between the toes if your dog has been walking on an irritating substance.
➡️ Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases like Lupus or Pemphigus are less common, but they can also cause redness and other skin issues in dogs.
These diseases cause the dog’s immune system to attack its own cells, leading to various skin symptoms.
Extra Info: Pododermatitis VCA Hospitals
⭐ Related: Can Polysporin Be Used on Dogs?
Identifying The Cause
Recognizing the cause of the redness between your dog’s toes involves a bit of detective work. 👮
Check for other symptoms that could provide clues. For instance, constant paw licking could suggest an allergic reaction, while a foul smell might indicate a yeast or bacterial infection.
An injured paw might cause your dog to limp, while changes in behavior might suggest an autoimmune disease.
Also, consider any recent changes in your dog’s environment or diet that could be causing an allergic reaction.
7 Remedies To Try at Home
Let’s run through the best things to try at home.
Keep in mind, if your dog is in a lot of visible discomfort, then it’s best to go straight to the vets. If the situations seems mild and not “too bad” then go ahead and try some of the following (but don’t over do it either).
Regular Cleaning ✅
The simplest, yet one of the most effective ways to help alleviate your dog’s discomfort is through regular and thorough cleaning.
Washing their paws gently with a mild, hypoallergenic soap and warm water helps to remove potential allergens, dirt, and bacteria that could be contributing to the irritation and redness.
Make sure to dry their paws completely after cleaning, as moist environments can further promote bacterial or yeast growth.
Baking Soda Paw Bath ✅
Baking soda is a natural neutralizer and cleanser that can help soothe irritated skin.
To make a baking soda paw bath, dissolve 1 cup of baking soda into a basin filled with 4 cups of warm water. Have your dog soak their paws in this solution for about 10 to 15 minutes.
The baking soda will help to relieve itching and inflammation.
After the bath, make sure to rinse your dog’s paws with clean water and dry them thoroughly to avoid any residue which might cause further irritation.
Apple Cider Vinegar Paw Rinse ✅
Apple cider vinegar is known for its antimicrobial properties and can help combat bacterial or yeast infections that might be causing the redness between your dog’s toes.
Dilute one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water to create a paw rinse. After your dog’s regular bath or foot soak, carefully pour the diluted apple cider vinegar over their paws.
It’s important not to rinse it off, but let it air dry.
Do note, however, that apple cider vinegar should only be used on healthy skin. If your dog has open sores or wounds, the vinegar can cause stinging and should be avoided.
Epsom Salt Soaks ✅
If your dog’s paws are swollen or visibly irritated, an Epsom salt soak can be beneficial.
Epsom salt is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to soothe skin irritations.
Simply dissolve a cup of Epsom salt in a basin of warm water and allow your dog’s paws to soak for about ten minutes.
This can help to reduce swelling and inflammation, offering your pet some much-needed relief.
After soaking, rinse their paws with clean water and pat them dry to remove any salt residues.
Over-the-Counter Topicals ✅
Topical creams containing hydrocortisone, which you can often find over-the-counter in many pharmacies, can help alleviate inflammation and soothe itchy skin.
It works by reducing the body’s immune response, thereby alleviating symptoms associated with skin irritation and allergies.
However, you should follow the package instructions closely and ensure your dog doesn’t ingest these products as they could be harmful if consumed.
Allergen-Free Diet ✅
Food allergies could be a potential cause of redness between your dog’s toes.
In such a case, providing your dog with an allergen-free diet might significantly help reduce symptoms. Start by consulting your vet to identify potential allergens in your dog’s current diet.
Then, transition your dog to a hypoallergenic diet that avoids these triggers, while still ensuring they receive balanced and complete nutrition.
It’s important to note that dietary changes may take a few weeks to show improvement in symptoms, so patience is key.
Paw Balms ✅
Paw balms are another great way to provide relief to your dog’s irritated paws.
These balms are specifically designed to soothe and protect your dog’s paws, and they often contain ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, and shea butter, which are known for their moisturizing and healing properties.
They form a protective barrier, locking in moisture and preventing further irritation from environmental factors.
Look for natural, pet-safe options and apply the balm to your dog’s clean, dry paws as per the product’s instructions.
Could It Be Interdigital Cysts? 😕
Interdigital cysts are a common skin issue in dogs that manifest as small bumps or lesions between their toes.
These cysts occur when the hair follicles or sweat glands in this area become blocked or inflamed, leading to the formation of a cyst.
⭐ What are Interdigital Cysts?
Interdigital cysts, also known as interdigital furuncles, are essentially areas of deep inflammation in the dog’s skin.
They’re typically found in the webbing between the dog’s toes, hence the name ‘interdigital.’
Although they’re referred to as cysts, they’re more akin to nodules or boils, resulting from deep bacterial infections or inflammation in the hair follicles.
⭐ Signs and Symptoms of Interdigital Cysts
Signs of interdigital cysts in dogs can vary but generally include:
- Red, swollen bumps between the toes
- Licking or chewing at the paws excessively
- Lameness or reluctance to walk due to discomfort
- Discharge or bleeding from the bumps
- Signs of pain when the paw is touched
More Info: MSD Vet Manual: Interdigital Cysts
⭐ What To Do If You Suspect Interdigital Cysts
If you notice these symptoms and suspect that your dog might have interdigital cysts, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Do not attempt to squeeze or puncture these cysts at home, as it could cause more harm than good.
Your vet will likely conduct a physical examination and may take a sample from the cyst to identify the underlying cause.
They can then prescribe a course of treatment which may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, medicated shampoos, or in some severe cases, surgery.
Remember, early detection and treatment can help prevent these cysts from becoming a chronic issue and causing your dog unnecessary discomfort.
Could It Be Hot Foot Syndrome? 😕
Hot foot syndrome, also known as “hot spot” dermatitis, pododermatitis, or acute moist dermatitis, is a common skin condition in dogs.
This issue can affect any part of the body, but when it occurs on the paws, it’s often referred to as “hot foot” syndrome.
⭐ What is Hot Foot Syndrome?
Hot foot syndrome is a condition marked by localized areas of skin inflammation and infection.
These areas become red, itchy, and often painful, leading to significant discomfort for your pet.
The affected skin might also be moist and warm to the touch, hence the term “hot spot” or “hot foot”.
This condition can be triggered by anything that causes irritation to your dog’s skin, such as walking on hot surface like asphalt (in the summer!), allergies, flea bites, poor grooming, moisture trapped in the fur, or even excessive licking and chewing due to stress or boredom.
⭐ Signs and Symptoms of Hot Foot Syndrome
If your dog has hot foot syndrome, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Red, inflamed areas on the paws or between toes
- Constant licking or chewing at the feet
- Visible discomfort or limping
- Swelling or warmth in the affected area
- A foul smell from the inflamed skin
⭐ What To Do If You Suspect Hot Foot Syndrome
If your dog is showing signs of hot foot syndrome, it’s important to contact your vet promptly. Without treatment, these hot spots can quickly grow, and the condition can become very painful for your dog.
Your vet will typically begin by clipping and cleaning the area to remove any matted fur and allow the skin to dry out.
They might prescribe topical ointments to relieve the inflammation and itchiness, and antibiotics may be required if there’s a secondary bacterial infection.
Redness Between Toes: WHEN To See a Vet? 🏥
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at home, it’s necessary to consult a professional.
And in some cases, it’s better off to see a veterinarian straight away. This would include when your dog is in visible discomfort, they’re limping, bleeding, or they are excessively licking or scratching the area.
If the issue isn’t that bad, and the symptoms are just mild, that’s when it’s okay to try something at home.
Still, you may need to venture off the vets anyway…
If the redness between your dog’s toes is accompanied by severe swelling or pain, if your dog is limping, if there are open wounds or signs of infection like pus, or if the redness doesn’t improve or gets worse despite your efforts, it’s time to see a vet.
Other signs that it’s time for a vet visit include excessive licking or chewing at the paws and sudden changes in your dog’s behavior.
Seeing redness between your dog’s toes can certainly be cause for concern, but with this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to identify potential causes and take action to help your dog feel better.
From allergies to infections to injuries, understanding the various reasons why this redness can occur is the first step in effective treatment.
With a combination of home remedies and veterinary care when necessary, your dog will be back on their paws in no time.
Always remember to consult your vet if you’re unsure about your dog’s condition.
More Info: Pet MD Yeast Issues In Paws