Hyperkeratosis Dog Paw: All You Need To Know


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Hyperkeratosis is a condition in dogs where the excessive accumulation of keratin in the paw pad results in hard, rough, or calloused growths. These growths are typically found on the surface of the paw, as well as beneath it. Hyperkeratosis is often caused by an underlying skin disorder or infection. It can also be caused by environmental irritants such as gravel, sharp objects, or chemical irritants. Dogs of all breeds and sizes can be affected, although it is more common in larger breeds. Treatment of hyperkeratosis may include antibiotics, topical ointments, and surgical removal. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.

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Hyperkeratosis of the dog paw is a common condition and is caused by a buildup of excess skin cells around the toes and pads of the paws. Symptoms include thickening of the paw pads, dryness, cracking, redness, and lameness. This condition occurs due to hyperkeratosis, which is a thickening of the outer layer of the skin. The cause of hyperkeratosis is unknown and can be genetic, from environmental factors, or due to poor paw care.

Treatment for hyperkeratosis of the dog paw can include regular trimming of the claws and pads, applying a topical remedy (such as an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or antifungal cream), and soaking or clipping the affected areas. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the thick, hard tissue.

What is Hyperkeratosis Dog Paw?

Hyperkeratosis of the dog paw is a condition in which the skin becomes thickened and develops crusts or calluses, often accompanied by scaly patches. It is caused by chronic contact(s) between the skin and a hard or rough surface, which leads to increased production of keratin, a protein found in healthy skin. Hyperkeratosis can affect any part of the paw but is most commonly seen on the pads and between the toes. Treatment can vary depending on the cause but may include the use of medicated shampoos, topical ointments, or antibiotics.

Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis Dog Paw

Nasodigital hyperkeratosis is a condition that affects the skin of a dog’s paws. It causes thickening and accumulation of keratin, resulting in a buildup of hard, scaly, flaky skin on the pads of the feet. It is most commonly found on the hind feet but can occur on any part of the paw. The most common symptoms include pain, discomfort, and lameness. Treatment for this condition typically involves trimming the excess scale or horn with scissors or clippers, filing the affected area to remove hard material, and applying a moisturizing cream or ointment to the affected area. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the hardening material. If left untreated, this condition can lead to cracks and open sores which can become infected. To reduce the risk of developing nasodigital hyperkeratosis, it is important that regular examinations of the foot be done, and that the paws be thoroughly dried and lubricated after swimming and baths.

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  1. Trauma or Injury: When a dog’s paw is injured, for example by stepping on a sharp object or on a rough surface, it can cause an excessive amount of keratin to form in the area as part of the natural healing process. This is the body’s way of protecting the area from further damage.
  2. Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This condition is an allergic reaction to something coming in contact with the skin. Common allergens that cause this type of reaction on the paws include certain metals (i.e., nickel, cobalt, and chromium), certain rubber compounds, and certain soaps or detergents. A patch of thickened, red skin with hyperkeratosis may form in the affected area from this type of reaction.
  3. Hypothyroidism: This is an endocrine disorder that is caused by an underactive thyroid gland. The body is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone, which can lead to a skin condition called seborrhea, which is characterized by greasy, scaly skin, and can also lead to hyperkeratosis.
  4. Autoimmune Disorders: Autoimmune disorders can also lead to hyperkeratosis on the paws. This is because the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissue in the affected area. These disorders can be caused by genetics or environmental exposure, and in some cases, it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause.
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How Does Dog Paw Pad Hyperkeratosis Occur?

Dog paw pad hyperkeratosis occurs when a dog’s paw pads become thickened and hardened due to excessive build-up of keratin, a type of protein. Various factors can contribute to the condition, including allergies, chemical exposure, and disease. If not treated, the paw may become cracked and become a source of infection, discomfort, and pain.

Symptoms of Paw Hyperkeratosis in Dogs

  • Thickened, rough or scaly patches of skin on the paw pads, elbows, and hocks.
  • Crusty scabs in the webbing between the toes.
  • Itchiness and discomfort.
  • Swelling.
  • Inflamed areas may be reddened, inflamed, or ulcerated.
  • Increased licking and nibbling of affected areas.
  • Pain when walking or applying pressure to the feet.
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the lesions.
  • Cracking of the footpads or toes.
  • Changes in the pigmentation of the footpads, such as lighter or darker color.

Diagnosing Dog Paw Hyperkeratosis

Diagnosing hyperkeratosis condition involves a few steps. First, the veterinarian will perform a physical examination of the paw, looking for signs of thickening and hardening of the pads. They may also use a magnifying glass to examine the area more closely. Next, a sample of the paw tissue will be taken for examination with a microscope. This will allow the veterinarian to assess the degree of hyperkeratosis present. Finally, additional tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that can lead to thickened paw pads, such as infections, tumors, or other diseases. 

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Paw hyperkeratosis in dogs is a skin disorder caused by an overgrowth of thick layers of keratin, the fibrous cage that binds together the skin. It is commonly seen in small and large breeds, with greyhounds, boxers, and bulldogs most commonly affected. Depending on the severity, paw hyperkeratosis can range from mildly annoying to severely painful for your pet.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to treat and manage this disorder. Here is a summary of ways to treat paw hyperkeratosis in dogs:

  1. Topical Treatments: Applying a topical medication can help to reduce the build-up of excess skin tissue on the paw area. Regular use of appropriate topical treatment can help to improve the skin’s appearance and reduce discomfort or pain. An example of a topical medication is antibiotic creams or lotions.
  2. Nail Trimming: Excessive overgrowth of the nails can cause paw hyperkeratosis. Trimming the nails regularly can help to reduce the pressure on the paw area, and prevent the build up of excess tissue. Clipping the nails periodically helps to keep the thickness of the nails even and reduce the likelihood of the nail digging into the skin.
  3. Bandaging: Wrapping the affected paw in a soft bandage or sock can help to reduce the pressure on the paw, and the discomfort associated with paw hyperkeratosis.
  4. Foot Massage: Massage therapy has been used to help relieve paw hyperkeratosis. Massaging the affected paw in a circular motion for 10 to 15 minutes before soaking it in warm water can help to reduce swelling and pain.
  5. Soaking: Soaking the paw in a warm Epsom salt-based solution can help to soften calluses and reduce swelling. This should be done at least twice a week for 30 minutes each time.
  6. Diet Changes: It is important to adjust the diet of your pet to ensure that it is nutritionally balanced and that all of the necessary vitamins and minerals are present. Such changes can help to reduce paw hyperkeratosis by providing the skin with all of the elements it needs to stay healthy.
  7. Environmental Adjustments: It is important to reduce the possibility of further damage to the paws by providing soft bedding and flooring for your pet. Additionally, be sure to trim any overgrown fur on the paws and pads.
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The Best Hyperkeratosis Ointments To Use

  • Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax: This wax is made from 100% natural wax and protects paw skin from hot pavement, salt, and snow. It provides a barrier that is breathable for your pup’s feet and paws and helps maintain normal moisture for healthy skin.
  • Vet-recommended All-Natural Paw and Nose Balm: This product is made using all-natural, food-grade ingredients and helps protect and moisturize the paw pads from extreme conditions. It is made specifically for dogs and helps prevent cracking, splitting, and other hyperkeratotic symptoms.
  • Burt’s Bees Natural Paw and Nose Balm: This product is made with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax. It helps protect and soften dog paws from dirt, salt, and other environmental irritants.
  • Petzlover All Natural Paw Balm: This paw balm is specially formulated to protect and condition paw pads from rough surfaces and extreme weather conditions. It is made with all-natural ingredients and helps create a protective shield that locks in moisture and prevents cracking.
  • SynergyLabs Clinical Care Antiseptic & Infection Control Antiseptic & Infection Control: This product is veterinarian recommended and helps protect the paws from hot pavement, salt, heat, and other environmental irritants. It is formulated to provide a barrier that keeps moisture in and prevents further irritation.

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  1. Start with a trim: Before beginning to trim your dog’s paw, use a pair of small clippers to trim any excess hair away from the paw. This will make it easier to work with the paw and to get a cleaner cut.
  2. Apply a warm compress: Soak a clean cloth with warm water then gently press it against the paw for up to 10 minutes. This will help to soften the area and ease the removal of thickened skin.
  3. Use a thin, sharp blade: Use a thin, sharp blade to carefully remove any excess skin or build-up from the affected area. Work slowly and carefully to avoid cutting the skin. This process may need to be repeated every couple of weeks to completely remove the affected areas.
  4. Apply a moisturizing cream: Once the area has been cleaned up, apply a thin layer of a moisturizing cream. This will help to protect the paw and aid with healing.

Hyperkeratosis Dog Paw Home Remedy

  • Trim the fur around the paw pads thoroughly, paying close attention to the areas where hyperkeratosis occurs.
  • Gently scrub away any excess keratin buildup with a veterinarian-approved dog-specific shampoo, or a damp cloth if the buildup is not heavy.
  • Apply a veterinary-approved balm, such as aloe vera, on the affected area to soothe and moisturize it.
  • Keep the paw clean and bandaged or on booties to protect it from coming in contact with any irritants.
  • Change the bandages or booties regularly to prevent the buildup of any further bacteria.
  • Provide your pet with soft, comfy bedding or cushioned mats to prevent the paw from coming in contact with hard objects or surfaces.
  • Provide a few tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil to your pet’s diet to lubricate the insides of the paw pads and keep them healthy.
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How to Prevent Dog Paw Hyperkeratosis

  • Trim Your Dog’s Nails: Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed can help reduce the amount of pressure placed on their paw pads. Make sure to keep their nails short and even so that their weight is distributed evenly.
  • Avoid Hot Surfaces: Hot surfaces such as pavement and asphalt can increase the risk of Hyperkeratosis due to prolonged contact. Avoid taking your dog for walks on hot surfaces, and instead try to keep the walk on grass, soil, and other cooler surfaces.
  • Use Footwear: Investing in some quality doggy footwear can help minimize the risk of Hyperkeratosis by protecting their paw pads from hot and cold surfaces. Be sure to receive the correct size so that your dog can comfortably walk in the shoes.
  • Use Paws Conditioning Balm: If your dog already shows signs of Hyperkeratosis, using a paw-conditioning balm made especially for dogs can help to alleviate the dry and cracked skin. Apply the balm as directed and check for bleeding.
  • Moisturize Their Paws: Applying a moisturizer to your pup’s paws regularly can help prevent Hyperkeratosis and keep them soft and nourished. Just make sure to choose a moisturizer that is made specifically for dogs, as regular bath and body creams can potentially be harmful to them.


Q. How serious is hyperkeratosis in dogs?

A. Hyperkeratosis in dogs is usually not serious and can be treated with topical medications and dietary changes.

Q. Is paw pad hyperkeratosis serious?

A. Yes, paw pad hyperkeratosis can be serious if left untreated.

Q. Can hyperkeratosis be cured in dogs?

A. No, hyperkeratosis in dogs is not curable.

Q. Why do my dog’s paws look scaly?

A. Your dog’s paws may look scaly because of environmental allergies or lack of moisture, or it could be a sign of a skin condition.

Q. What is the Severity of Hyperkeratosis in Dog Paws?

A. The severity of hyperkeratosis in dog paws can vary from mild to severe. Mild cases may cause paw discomfort or lameness, while more severe cases may cause pain, infection, or even amputation.

Q. Is it normal for my dog’s paw pads to peel?

A. Yes, it is normal for a dog’s paw pads to peel. This is typically due to dry skin, minor irritation or injury, or an allergic reaction.

Q. Is hyperkeratosis in dogs painful?

A. No, hyperkeratosis in dogs is not generally painful. However, it can sometimes lead to irritation and itching, which could cause discomfort.

Q. Is hyperkeratosis in dogs contagious to humans?

A. No, hyperkeratosis in dogs is not contagious to humans.


Hyperkeratosis of the dog’s paw is a common condition that is very treatable. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition and prevent further skin damage. Pet owners should monitor their dog’s paws regularly and seek medical attention if any abnormal changes occur. If left untreated, hyperkeratosis can cause the skin to become painful and sensitive. With the correct treatment and management, the condition can easily be managed and your dog’s paws kept healthy.


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