Discolored Pads in Dogs

By Lisa McQuerrey

Dog foot pads can become discolored temporarily due to nonmedical reasons, such as running through mud or fresh-cut grass. They also can turn color due to injury, allergy, trauma or in some cases, medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders. If your dog develops discolored foot pads, particularly with other unusual physical symptoms, such as lameness, lethargy or fever, see your vet for a consultation.

Red Pads

Red, pink or swollen paw pads can result from asphalt burns, insect stings, allergies or trauma, such as stepping on a thorn or sharp object. If your dog presents with this type of symptom, gently wash the area and examine the paw for cuts, puncture wounds or embedded objects. Paws that bleed, are warm to the touch or have a puslike discharge should receive immediate medical attention. Infection could be present and your pup may need an antibiotic.

Pale Blue or Gray Pads

If your dog has been exposed to cold weather conditions and develops pale blue or gray foot pads, he could have frostbite and needs to see a vet quickly. Other signs of frostbite include cold paws, pain, swelling and even blistering. Frostbitten paw pads that turn black have suffered severe tissue damage. Your vet likely will treat your dog with monitored rewarming, pain relief and topical and oral antibiotics. Some extreme cases may require surgery.

White or Cracked Pads

Dog foot pads can become cracked and dry from exposure to the elements. Outside dogs, in particular, can develop white rough spots on their paws from running or walking on rough surfaces such as concrete, rocks or sand. Keep your dog’s pads hydrated with commercial canine pad creams or home remedies such as petroleum jelly. Avoid using products made for humans, as they can contain toxic substances. If pads develop deep cracks and bleed, see your vet to rule out possible infection.

Spotty or Ulcerated Pads

Dogs with some types of autoimmune disorders may develop spotty, discolored or ulcerated skin and foot pads. The most common types are foliaceus and erythematosus. These conditions have other symptoms including foot pad overgrowth, swollen lymph nodes, itchy skin and pain. Another less common but potential cause of discolored pads is vitiligo, which causes spotty skin occasionally found on the feet.