Once every few weeks, I will have my dog lie down in front of me while I go over his body meticulously. I will eyeball and feel every inch of his body for anything that seems ‘abnormal’.
One important area of our dogs that we tend to overlook is their paws or more specifically, their paw pads.
It is easy to miss out on issues such as discoloration or infections in your dog’s paws as they are not always in your line of sight.
What if you notice that your dog’s paw pads are pink?
Pink paw pads in dogs could be due to genetic pigmentation which is harmless. Pink paw pads can also be due to an allergy, infection or hot spots. Some of these causes require medical attention to resolve.
In this article, we will be uncovering the reasons behind the unique color, potential health implications and the best ways to care for your dog’s paws.
Anatomy Of A Dog’s Paw
Each of your dog’s adorable paws consists of five components, all of which serve a specific function in their overall structure.
The five parts of your dog’s paws are:
- Digital pads
- Metacarpal pad
- Carpal pad
Your dog’s nails or claws serve as traction as they dig into the ground while the dog is running. They also make it easy for me to know where my dog is in the house with the sound it makes.
Think of your dog’s paw pads as your canine friend’s built-in footwear.
Composed of fatty tissue, these fleshy pads function as shock absorbers, safeguarding your pet’s joints and bones from impact.
The thickness of the paw pads also protects your dog’s paws from rough and hard terrain. It also acts as insulation when the dog walks or runs on a cold surface like snow or ice.
Imagine running through harsh terrain without shoes. Your feet would be hurting after a few minutes.
What Color Should Dog Paw Pads Be?
There isn’t any hard and fast rule as to what color a dog’s paw pad should be. But the majority of dogs have black or dark-colored paw pads.
It also largely depends on the age and breed of the dog in question. A dog with light fur does not necessarily have pink paw pads.
Young dogs and puppies tend to have pink paw pads during their younger years.
These dogs with pink paw pads will experience a change in their paw pad color as they age.
Some dogs have brown noses that can turn pink or a lighter shade due to the weather.
If you happen to notice a white crusty line on your dog’s nose, that could signal a health problem.
Why Are My Dog Paws Turning Pink?
Not all causes of pink paws in dogs are harmless. There are some possible reasons that signify an underlying medical issue for your dog.
If you find that your dog has been biting and licking its paws more often these days, take a look at its paws to see if it is pink in color.
A pink paw pad could mean that your dog’s paws are allergic to something in the environment.
Some dogs can develop allergic reactions to grass and dirt. If your dog has such an allergy, it would be good to wash or wipe their paw pads when you are back from a walk.
However, if the allergy is due to something in the air, it will be much harder to prevent.
It is also common for some dogs to be allergic to their food. Many dogs are also allergic to dairy and nuts.
So if you have started giving your dog cashew milk, that could be the problem.
This problem can be made worse if your dog has This problem can be made worse if your dog has atopic dermatitis.
The immune system tends to overreact to allergens which causes chronic skin irritation.
A study has even found that dogs with atopic dermatitis have poorer footpad quality.
Other symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Excessive scratching
- Inflamed red skin
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to keep your dog away from the allergen.
But if that’s not possible, the vet can prescribe antihistamines to help with the symptoms.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
If your dog has been engaging in behavior that seems repetitive and abnormal to you, there’s a chance that your dog has OCD.
A dog with OCG will engage in behavior such as:
- Frantic fly biting
- Running around in circles
- Chasing its own tail
- Pacing and vocalizing
Another common behavior is excessive licking and chewing of a particular body part, such as the paws.
It is rather common to see your dog bite and chew its paws as part of self-grooming. But if your dog does it non-stop all day long, it will cause the paw pads to become red and inflamed.
Trying to diagnose OCD in dogs can be challenging as it’s difficult to ascertain the root cause.
Common causes of OCD include:
- Chemical imbalance
If you suspect that your dog has OCD, you need to speak to your vet about it.
They can help determine if the behavior is truly OCD or if it’s caused by an underlying medical issue.
With proper treatment, it is possible to improve your dog’s quality of life and reduce the impact of OCD behaviors
Infection Of The Paw
Given that dogs spend a great deal of time outdoors, they are at higher risk of bacterial infections as well as fungal infections of the paw.
This can cause the dog’s paw pads to turn pink.
Bacterial infections can happen when there is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in and around the dog’s paw pads.
This could be due to ingrown hairs, swimming in contaminated waters or a simple skin infection.
Some dogs can get yeast infections in their paws making them red and itchy.
Symptoms of a paw infection include:
- Redness and swelling
- Biting and chewing of the paws
- Abnormal discharge
Please take your dog to see the vet if it is having a paw infection. It can get worst without proper medical attention.
Paw burn is a painful condition that can occur when a dog’s sensitive paw pads come into contact with hot surfaces or corrosive substances.
This can happen when your dog works on surfaces such as concrete or asphalt that can get very hot during the summer months.
Do not walk your dog when the weather is very hot outside.
If the weather has been hot all day, try walking under shaded areas and test the ground with the back of your hand to make sure it’s not too hot for your dog.
Besides making sure that the ground isn’t too hot for your dog’s paw pads, keep a watchful eye on where your dog walks.
Stepping on chemicals, such as road salts, antifreeze, or cleaning agents, can cause chemical burns on a dog’s paw pads.
Symptoms of paw burns include:
- Limping or reluctance to walk
- Licking or chewing at the affected paw
- Swollen, red or blistered paw pads
If the paw burn is minor, you can apply some healing balm or antiseptic cream that are meant for dogs.
Please do not apply any creams that are meant for humans as that can worsen the injury.
Severe burns need to be treated by the vet.
Regular grooming of your dog’s nails can help keep their paws in good shape and prevent any problems with their nails.
Dogs with long nails place more pressure on the nail beds which can damage the nail bed over time.
Longer nails also tend to get snagged on surfaces and objects which can cause the dog’s nail to bend sideways or break.
If you are unable to trim your dog’s nails on a regular basis, make an appointment with a groomer to get it done.
When Do Puppy Paw Pads Turn Black?
During the first six to seven months of a dog’s life, its paw pads will slowly turn from pink to a darker color.
This is due to all the running and playing that a puppy does to start forming a callous on its pink paws.
It might be cute and adorable to see a dog with pink paw pads but it can be quite uncomfortable for the dog as pink usually means the most tender areas of the dog.
Darker paw pads signify that the skin has toughened, providing a protective barrier.
How To Keep My Dog’s Paw Healthy?
Many dog owners do tend to not practice good paw hygiene in their dogs until it is too late. Here are some tips that you can use to keep your dog’s paws healthy.
- Trim your dog’s nails frequently
- Don’t let your dog walk on surfaces that are too hot or cold
- Stay away from surfaces that can injure your dog’s paws
- Moisturize your dog’s paw pads to keep them from cracking
- Wash and dry your dog’s feet when you get back home
Keeping your dog’s paws healthy is a good way to prevent any form of infection or injury from happening to the paw pads.
Why Does My Dog Have Pink And Black Paws?
Some dogs have pink and black paws due to their natural coloration. As puppies get older, the skin of their paw pads starts to thicken and change color due to excessive use.
This outer skin grows gradually and in stages thus giving the pink and black paw pads.
Besides your dog’s paws, another area that you should pay attention to as your dog gets older is the elbow.
There are many dogs with bad calluses on their elbows that can start to bleed. There are ways to prevent this and it is best to start sooner than later.
What Breed Of Dog Have Pink Paw Pads?
There aren’t any recognized dog breeds that are known to have pink paw pads from young to old.
In fact, dogs with pink paw pads can have a disadvantage in dog competitions.
Some breed standards list having pink paw pads as a negative and could cost the dog points in the show.
Are Dogs With Pink Pads More Sensitive?
The pink areas of a dog’s paw pad are said to be more sensitive as compared to the darker areas.
The skin on these pink areas is also thinner and can tear or get burnt a lot easier.
It is best to avoid excessive movement or allow your dog to walk on very warm surfaces to prevent any damage to the delicate areas.
Fun Facts About Dog’s Paws
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the paws of a dog. Here are some interesting facts that you might not know about your dog’s paws.
Dogs Have Webbed Feet
It has been a long-time misconception that only some dog breeds have webbed feet.
All dogs have webbed feet, some more noticeable than others. The webbing makes it easier for dogs to swim, dig and maneuver on difficult terrains.
Dogs Sweat Through Their Paws
Dogs usually regulate their body heat by panting. But if the weather gets very hot, they will start to sweat through their paws to try and stay cool.
The color of your dog’s paw pads should not be much of an issue to you. The majority of dogs are born with pink paw pads that slowly darken as they age.
If you notice that your dog’s paw pads are turning pink due to a medical condition, then it is best to have the vet take a look at the paw and get it treated.
The longer your dog’s paws stay infected, it can spread to the rest of the feet.