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My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs

By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. March 4, 2020
My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs

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There are many aspects to maintaining your dog's health, but it is too often we overlook their paws. Especially if they don't need their fur clipped, we may give them a cursory wash every once in a while and that's it. However, dog paws are the part of their body which most often come in contact with the ground, yet they are also one of the most sensitive. When we see anything change in them, we need to take action. If we don't, the result can affect not only their mobility, but their entire well-being.

If you discover that your dog has a growth on their paw, you should know that one of the most common causes is the presence of a cyst. These are known as interdigital cysts when it grows in between their ‘toes’. AnimalWised looks at the reasons for growths and cysts on your dog's paws and what might be done about them.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Dog Keep Licking their Paws?

Different types of growth on dog paws

An ‘interdigital cyst’ is a lump which appears between the digits (commonly referred to as ‘toes’) of the dog's paw. They are not one single issue and have various causes. The main ones include:

  • Foreign bodies
  • Folliculitis
  • Neoplasia
  • Allergies
  • Scabies
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Other causes of growths on a dog's paw

So we can know what action needs to be taken, we will look at these different causes and their treatment in closer detail. Keep reading to find out more.

Foreign bodies

Since dogs most commonly walk on various different types of terrain without any form of protection, they paws are vulnerable. When walking our dog, we need to be careful of any potential hazards which might appear on the way. In nature, we might see there are sharp tree needles on the ground. Walking them on the pavement, it is possible there may be some broken glass. A dog's enthusiasm and excitement can mean they might bound onto dangerous ground without hesitation.

When the dog walks over certain foreign bodies, the pressure means they can insert themselves into the skin. The result of the injury will be pain, redness and inflammation. Even if the foreign body does not lodge itself in the dog's paw, bacteria on the object can enter the wound and cause similar inflammation.

Treatment of a foreign body in the dog's paw requires removing said object. How this is done will depend on how far it is inserted into the tissue. If it is easy to remove, you can do it yourself. If it is embedded deep, a veterinarian will need to take it out using special tools.

Afterwards, the wound site will need to be cleaned and the area disinfected. If a foreign object has developed a bacterial infection, it is possible a veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics, but only in severe cases.

My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs - Foreign bodies
Image: argos.portalveterinaria.com

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is caused when one or more hair follicles become infected and inflamed. The inflammation is usually purulent, meaning pus has built up inside if an abscess occurs. However, since the dog doesn't have follicles on the paw pads themselves, they will only experience interdigital folliculitis. If we see our dog is limping on a given paw, we should take a look in between their toes if we don't see anything.

There are various causes of folliculitis in dogs, usually due to dirt entering the follicle. Bacteria or fungus can enter the follicle and the dog's immune defense starts to fight the infection.

It is possible the folliculitis will disappear on its own as the infection is fought by antibodies. However, there are other treatment options available. In most cases, you will be able to wash the area with an antiseptic. If the folliculitis doesn't go away, it may require further treatment in the form of antifungal or antibiotic medication, depending on the cause.

Neoplasia

A neoplasm is a type of abnormal tissue growth which has a wide variety of causes. These range from benign cysts to cancerous tumors. The main types of neoplasia on a dog's paw include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: a type of neoplasm which affects the epithelial cells, these are most common in sensitive areas of the dog's skin such as nose, mouth and paws. Since squamous cell carcinoma are associated with exposure to sunlight, it is possible the dog develops one as a growth on their paw which is more exposed as it is not protected by fur. Treatment may be surgical or chemical, but it will depend on the veterinary diagnosis.
  • Hystiocytoma: these are benign growths which may grow on the paw's of a dog, but are not very common. They are usually benign and can disappear without treatment. If they do not, they may require surgery to remove them.
  • Melanoma: this is a type of skin cancer on dogs which is most often caused by sunlight. It is dangerous and will need veterinary medical attention.
  • Benign cyst: other types of benign cyst are possible on the dog's paws.

You may become aware of a neoplasm on a dog's paw due to a change in their gait. If the growth is big enough, it stops the dog from being able to walk properly and it may even be painful. Even in benign cases, the neoplasm may need to be removed to improve the dog's quality of life.

My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs - Neoplasia

Allergies

There are various types of allergic reactions from which dogs can suffer. Whether it is a reaction to a medication or a food allergy, the result affects different parts of the body. If the dog has a growth on their paws due to an allergic reaction, the cause is likely a material which they have walked over. It is also possible a substance has come in contact with their through a spillage or some other vector.

Treatment of an allergic reaction will depend on its severity. If the dog goes into anaphylactic shock, they will need to be taken to an emergency veterinary clinic. In mild cases, the swelling may go down itself over time. Prevention of such allergic reactions in the future will depend on whether we are able to work out its cause.

Scabies

A scabies infestation can be of varying degrees of severity, but they are all caused by thew scabies mite Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites have variations and the Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis is the one which affects dogs. The mite burrows into the skin of the dog's paw and lead to itching, rashes and even small growths in major infestations.

You might be alerted to the presence of scabies in dogs when they begin to nibble at them to relieve the itchiness. If the dog has an autoimmune disease, the scabies can scab over. In these cases, it is likely the scabies will not be limited to their paws and affect other areas on the skin.

Scabies is infectious to other dogs, so they will need to be quarantined from other animals. They are not zoonotic, i.e. they cannot be transferred to humans. The mite may jump from a dog to a human, but the dog scabies mite will not be able to survive long on human skin.

Treatment of scabies is usually in the form of managing the symptoms and possibly using an acaracide. Prevention is the best treatment.

Autoimmune diseases

There are various types of autoimmune diseases in dogs with various different causes. They may all result in growths on the dog's paws. They include:

Causes, symptoms and treatment will depend on the individual disease.

My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs - Autoimmune diseases

Other causes of growths on a dog's paw

While the major issues are covered in the sections above, there are other causes which may lead to growths on a dog's paw. The endocrine system deals with the various hormones produced in the body which affect different body parts in various ways. They include various disorders such as Cushing's syndrome. In some cases, they may result in gland swelling which causes growths on the dog's paw.

Finally, one of the main causes of growths on a dog's paw are relatively benign. If the dog does a lot of running, especially on hard surfaces, the skin on the paw pad can harden into a callus. This may become more likely with age. Also, if the dog's gait is affected, they may walk on part of their paw too much and result in a corn. These can become painful if not addressed.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Susan Skopek
I am a dog groomer here in Germantown, WI. I just want to thank you for all the valuable information your site provides. In comparison to some other of the sites, I'd definitely rate you a 5star! I just dealt with a interdigital cyst underneath/between the front, left paw webbing of our 18yr. old Rott/Basset mix. I never saw anything like this before. At first I thought it was a tumor next to her pad. I couldn't see anything that had poked into her foot. It didn't seem to bother her so I watched it knowing her age would be risky for surgery. It continued to grow within the year and she soon began licking under her foot between her toes. Noticeable swelling was beginning thru the webbing on the upper part of her foot. I started soaking her foot in Epshom salt and warm water. Our friends often did this with their horses to draw out abscesses. It still didn't do anything. I took her into her
our Vet. He had told me it was a cyst and gave me a antibiotic. Sure enough after giving her the antibiotic, infection started releasing thru her webbing. I continued soaking her foot. The Epshom salt didn't seem to make a big difference. The cyst continued to grow. I could tell she was in pain. She went from limping to not wanting to walk at all. I began pressing around areas to help expel the infection. Not much seemed to come out considering how large the cyst had become. I wouldn't suggest this to anyone, but I was desperate. I knew her age was against her as she's 18+ years old. I sterilized a very sharp pocket knife under a flame on the stove. I let the blade cool, I then used alcohol to further sterilize the knife and put alcohol with cotton ball all over the cyst. I then lanced the cyst underneath her paw. It didn't phase her. No blood came out, but I noticed a pure white meaty flesh within her cyst. I watched her face/body to see that it wasn't hurting/bothering her. I gently tried to remove whatever white meat I saw. I know I left a lot still within as I'm not a vet., but knew this was gettin way to large. I then used 3:1 warm water/hydrogen peroxide ratio soak. I didn't want to harm any good skin. I rubbed some neosporin triple antibiotic ointment on both sides. Placed gauze from the top down and underneath her paw then wrapped it semi loosely up with the stretchy/vet wrap over the gauze, her pad and up her ankle a bit. Used a little paper tape to stay the end. I did a lot of praying that she would heal and not go the opposite direction. I was desperate and knew her paw wasn't getting better right smack dab in the middle of Covid19. One positive that happened during this shut down of Covid19, I'm home to take care of our sweet, 18yr. old Allie-Alligator. I'm thankful to say, her paws healing up great! She's a happy, walking girl once again! I sure hope it doesn't come back. I do know a lot more about this Interdigital Cyst which I never knew before. This solid, pure white, tissue inside does bother me though. I imagine the vet. would have sent it for a biopsy. It was difinetly not normal. Not the typical white liquid or mushy, cottage cheese substance of a normal cyst. Without looking at the cells under a microscope, does cancerous tissue have a white color like this?

My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs
Image: argos.portalveterinaria.com
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My Dog Has a Growth On Their Paw - Interdigital Cysts in Dogs

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