Pododermatitis in Cats: Symptoms And Treatment Options

Pododermatitis in Cats

Pododermatitis in Cats: If you notice your cat is licking or chewing on their paws a lot, they could have a condition called pododermatitis. This is an inflammatory skin disease on a cat’s paws and between their toes.

  • Signs your cat may have pododermatitis include:
    • Red, swollen, irritated, or inflamed skin between the toes or pads
    • Excessive licking, biting, or chewing on the paws
    • Scaly skin or scabs on the paws
    • Paw pad hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin on pads)
    • Lameness or not wanting to walk
    • Yelping or crying when you touch their paws

There are a few potential causes for feline pododermatitis:

  1. Allergies – Just like people, cats can develop allergies to things like food, fleas, pollen, or chemicals that irritate their paws. Determining the allergen is key.
  2. Infections – Bacterial or yeast infections between the toes can cause itching, inflammation, and pain.
  3. Foreign material – Small pieces of grass, thorns, gravel or other material gets trapped between the paw pads or toes.
  4. Obesity – Excess weight puts more pressure on the paw pads.

No matter the cause, pododermatitis is uncomfortable for cats. See your vet to diagnose the underlying issue and determine appropriate treatment. This may include medications, antimicrobials, better nutrition, weight loss, or removing the source of irritation. With the proper care, most cats recover well.

Pododermatitis in Cats

Common Causes of Pododermatitis in Cats

Pododermatitis, or inflammation of the paws, is a pretty common issue in cats. If your kitty is hobbling around or constantly licking their paws, pododermatitis may be to blame. There are several potential causes to be aware of:

  • Allergies – Just like humans, cats can develop environmental or food allergies that cause itchy skin and paws. Things like pollen, mold, dust mites, certain proteins in food, and more can trigger an allergic response.
  • Bacterial or yeast infections – Bacteria and yeast normally live on the skin without issue, but sometimes they can overgrow leading to infection and inflammation. This is often secondary to another underlying condition.
  • Foreign material in the paws – Anything that gets trapped in the paws like grass seeds, burrs, gravel, glass, etc can cause irritation and infection. Especially problematic in long-haired cats who get more stuff caught in their fur.
  • Skin parasites – Mites like cheyletiella or scabies can burrow into the skin leading to a very itchy rash. Ringworm fungus often causes skin and nail issues too.
  • Injuries to pads or nails – Cats that go outside risk cuts, tears, burns, frostbite, etc that can get infected. Declawing also predisposes cats to pad infections.
  • Other diseases or trauma – Pododermatitis can result from systemic illnesses, autoimmune disease, cancer, arthritis, nerve damage or other traumas.
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If your cat is struggling with chronically irritated, inflamed, or infected paws, a trip to the vet is in order. They can help diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment to relieve your cat’s suffering paws and get them back on their feet again. Stay vigilant for limping, excessive licking/chewing of paws, swelling, odor, and discharge so problems can be promptly addressed.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Pododermatitis

If your cat shows signs of discomfort or pain in its paws, it could have a common condition called pododermatitis. Here’s what you can look for:

  • Limping or favoring one paw. This is a key symptom that something is irritating the sensitive pads on your cat’s feet. They may hold up the injured paw when sitting.
  • Excessive licking or chewing at the paws. Cats instinctively try to soothe sore paws with their scratchy tongues. Overgrooming can lead to further irritation or infection.
  • Redness or swelling between the toes or pads. Inflamed skin is a telltale sign of pododermatitis. The paws may look irritated or feel warm to the touch.
  • Cracked pads or blisters on the feet. Severe cases can cause painful sores that may bleed or ooze. There may be a strong odor too.
  • Loss of fur on the paws. The constant licking and biting can cause bald patches over time.

If your cat is limping or favoring their paws, be sure to inspect them closely for these symptoms. Catching pododermatitis early allows for quicker treatment and relief for your cat. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet’s paw issues point to this condition. They can help diagnose the underlying cause and recommend suitable therapies for your feline friend’s hurting paws.

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Treatment Options for Pododermatitis in Cats

Pododermatitis—inflammation of the paw pads and skin—can be painful for your cat. The source of irritation needs to be identified and removed. Treatments aim to control infection, reduce inflammation, and help damaged skin heal.

  • If an underlying cause of allergy is suspected, your vet may prescribe antihistamines or steroid medications. Keep kitty off harsh flooring surfaces until skin is healed.
  • Bacterial infections may require antibiotic treatment. Topical or oral antibiotics can treat infected, weeping wounds.
  • Medicated paw soaks can clean and disinfect irritated paws. Mix an antiseptic solution like dilute chlorhexidine and have kitty stand in it for a few minutes. Gently pat dry.
  • Corticosteroids like prednisone are powerful anti-inflammatories. They can provide relief from itching and swelling but may have side effects.
  • Immunosuppressants can be used for severe, chronic inflammation. They dampen an overactive immune response attacking skin tissues.
  • Pain medication brings relief if pododermatitis is causing significant discomfort. Gabapentin or NSAIDs may be prescribed.
  • Nutritional supplements support skin healing. Essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants aid tissue repair and restoration.
  • Bandaging paws helps prevent licking, biting, and scratching wounded areas. Use soft gauze and medical tape changed daily. Elizabethan collars deter licking as well.
  • In severe cases, vets may recommend surgical debridement of dead skin tissue. This allows fresh skin to heal underneath. Skin grafts can help damaged paw pads regenerate.

The course of treatment is tailored to your individual cat and may involve multiple approaches for the best outcome. With patience and working closely with your veterinarian, kitty’s paws can get back to feeling soft and supple once again.

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