Paw Thickenings of the kind of Granuloma, or Pyoderma, or Interdigital cysts are specific types of Skin Infection, a progressive disease describing the condition of tissue thickenings between the toes of the paw.
The Paw Thickening may already be accompanied by nodular granulated tissue (Granuloma) and/or pus (Pyoderma) around the site of infection. There may even be what looks like Interdigital cysts (but often aren't cysts because real cysts typically are follicular cysts or suety gland cysts).
- (micro) lesions on the paws
- a hormonal disorder (endocrine system disorder)
- or an allergic reaction (immune system disorder)
The cause of such Paw Thickening almost always is:
- (earlier) treatment with steroidal drugs with high immunosuppressive efficacy
- or a reaction to vaccination (vaccinosis)
both of which have resulted in inadequate immunological response of the integumentary system.
- glucocorticoids (cortisone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone, methylprednisolone, betamethasone, dexamethasone, etc) and
- mineralocorticoids (corticosterone, aldosterone, fludrocortisone, desoxycorticosterone, etc)
and with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), eg:
- meloxicam (Metacam)
- carprofen (Rimadyl/Novox)
- deracoxib (Deramaxx/Novartis), etc.
When the infectious Paw thickening is chronic although the dog has not received treatment with steroidal drugs, then the trigger likely is an endocrine system disorder, and the cause is a chemical substance in medicaments, "food", household, or environment.
Who Suffers Paw Thickening
Most at risk are dogs that receive steroid treatment. Most common here are cortisone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone.
Now you see why I write everywhere if you get an ear care remedy get the Zymox Otic without hydrocortisone, not the one with hydrocortisone. The one with hydrocortisone doesn't work any better but makes your dog's health so much worse! Very very few allopathic veterinarians understand the ramifications of prescribing steroidal drugs. Those that do prescribe them anyway so that you come back. Or else why would they?
The fact that Paw Thickening often occurs soon after a vaccination "booster" strongly suggests that vaccinosis (sickness because of vaccination) plays a role as well. This is unsurprising: A vaccine injection shocks within seconds all body systems, and due to proximity the first symptoms become visible as skin condition and/or gastrointestinal condition.
Other than dogs that have had steroid treatment or vaccine injection, dogs that are a lot outdoors (like many German Shepherds) are more likely to experience (micro) lesions to their paws, from a grass seed, stick, gravel, de-icing salts, cleaning chemical, or even ingrown toenail. Such lesion may then quickly harbor bacteria that a weakened integumentary system may be unable to defeat.
So then most ordinary allopathic veterinarians prescribe antibiotics. And promptly they make it worse: Contrary to popular belief, antibiotics always impair the health of the immunological defense mechanisms because antibiotics lead to an overgrowth of yeast and pathogenic bacteria.
In addition consider this: When your dog feels discomfort or pain at a paw, the dog will lick or even bite the paw. Whatever was on the paw (pathogens, salt, chemicals) will be ingested and can lead to additional ailments like Digestive Disorder, Dental Disease or Gum Inflammation, Diarrhea, Vomiting, or Dehydration, and in extreme circumstances may even set the course for a Tumor.
This is why the seemingly harmless Paw Thickening so often leads to seemingly unrelated further ailments soon thereafter. A quality holistic veterinarian will associate one and the other and address the cause. The average allopathic veterinarian will not, yet happily treat each new symptom on its own. As a welcome "side effect" this gives more cash too.
- Paw Thickenings typically are between the toes or on top
- hard thickening of skin, normally no color change
- even if you only gently squeeze it the dog will retract in pain
- frequent licking or biting the same paw
- possibly limping on the affected leg
- restlessness, nervousness from discomfort or pain
Preventing Paw Thickenings
Preventing Paw Thickening is quite easy:
- Take the time to actually look at your dog every day, instead of subconsciously seeing the dog (say like a road sign). I take this conscious look when I brush the dog (every day, indeed). The benefit: You also feel skin changes.
- As for Paw Thickenings, lift each paw for a glance underneath as well.
- This way, before a problem emerges you may notice it, and you can address it.
To prevent micro lesions (first trigger):
- Before walks, consider the terrain and if reasonable protect the paws: Pawz disposable and reusable dog boots can be helpful (if the dog is well exercised and so nails are short), or on rough terrain better are these High Performance Boots.
- Also, during walks, watch for things like broken glass, nails, gravel, and sharp concrete.
- After walks, consider using an outdoor shower or whatever to wash off what your dog would otherwise lick off and thus ingest.
- Briefly inspect the paws and remove any foreign objects. You may disinfect the pads with an antiseptic wound spray when your dog stepped in feces or vomit, chemical residues, or other likely contaminated soil.
- Do not exercise your dog on hard surfaces like concrete or gravel.
- Avoid rough, icy, de-iced, hot, or chemical-affected surfaces.
- To strengthen and protect the paw pads, Musher's Secret is great (although for unknown reasons my Miguel hates the smell and thus resists its use).
- If your dog isn't exercised enough, manually trim the dog's nails so that they don't catch on anything and tear.
To prevent an endocrine system disorder and immune system disorder (second and third trigger):
- Never accept and pay for steroidal drugs.
- Avoid all superfluous vaccinations: multivalents, "boosters".
- Carefully consider chemical substances in medicaments, industrial "food", household, and environment.
With all the above lists you achieve way more than preventing Paw Thickening.
Treating Paw Thickening
To treat Granuloma, Pyoderma, and related Paw Thickenings, standard allopathic medicine recommends various cortisone-based and antibiotic powders and ointments. None of them provides healing, as is known from medical history logs. Yet all have "side effects", as is known from follow-up visits. The dog generally ends up in trial-and-error treatments that improve the vet's bank account but worsen the dog's overall health.
This is why at MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we always so strongly advise against paying for the blanket treatment protocol of allopathic medicine: steroids and antibiotics, like here as well (indeed cortisone is a glucocorticoid, a steroidal drug).
- Remove foreign objects and pathogens from the paw to curtail continued infection
- Strengthen the dog's immunological response
- Avoid all intoxication of the body's cells
If you truly pursue each of these steps, the Paw Thickening likely will resolve within a few weeks only, and there will be no "side effects": related new symptoms.
As for 1) To remove foreign objects from the paw, carefully use tweezers, wash the paw well under running water, and then apply a strong antiseptic wound spray.
To remove pathogens from the paw, applying the antiseptic wound spray three to nine times a day is sufficient.
If the paw pads are dry, chapped, or cracked, apply Musher's Secret, and if it looks too bad protect the paws with Pawz disposable and reusable dog boots or the better Protective Dog Boots. If covering only the affected paw makes your dog nervous or aggressive, you may need to cover two or all four paws.
Small wounds must be washed out under running water, then treated with antiseptic wound spray, and once dried (within 20 seconds max), immediately hard-bandaged or soft-bandaged before you cover the paws with either of the dog boots. This will make the paw heal, anything else will make you see and pay the vet.
Therefore, better stick with this both effective and appropriate antiseptic treatment. Another advantage of a strong antiseptic spray is that if applied regularly it is effective against virtually all strains of the three major types of pathogens: bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Compare this for example with Tinactin, which is only effective against some strains of fungal infections only, and you understand the enormous benefits of using the right remedy, and without any "side effects" whatsoever!
In addition, you would first need - and pay - a vet to determine if it is a fungal infection at all. And once there, the average vet will then try to sell you the antibiotic and/or cortisone-based remedies mentioned above - likely plus a bag from the dog "food" shelves that every allopathic veterinarian has these days. No other physician than veterinarians sells products. Think about that!
Concerning bandage, don't rely on the bitter taste of bandages that claim they will deter the dog from scratching or chewing the affected area - they won't in most cases. Foremost at night when the dog is alone the dog will start paying attention to the affected area. That's why it's often ideal to cover all four paws with either of the dog boots, not just the affected one.
If a wound seems large or bleeds much:
As for 2) To strengthen the dog's immunological response, proceed with our standard treatment:
- Feeding a healthy variety of natural foods only.
- Allowing the entire immune system to practice, to train, to gain more experience through natural immunization wherever sensible. The sensibility check is the long list that comes next.
- Avoiding stress from the Pack conflict as perceived by the dog, and from fear.
As for 3) Avoid all intoxication of the body's cells:
- NOT vaccinating the dog unless a prior titer shows no reaction at all to the antigen in question.
- NOT vaccinating a puppy unless a prior titer shows that the passive immunity from maternal antibodies has now worn off, and so the vaccine can be effective, while before it cannot!
- NOT allowing multivalent vaccines to be given where single vaccines are available, ie the common vaccine combinations all the way through to DHLPPCv are a strict no-no!
- NOT accepting a "booster" vaccination unless a prior titer shows no reaction at all to the antigen in question.
- NOT vaccinating a dog that is sick or has been sick in any way in the last three months.
- NOT vaccinating a dog against diseases that are highly unlikely to be contracted in the particular dog's living environment and given the dog's lifestyle.
- NOT vaccinating a dog against diseases that are neither life-threatening nor a permanent material impairment of quality of life.
- NOT vaccinating a dog where the dog's lifestyle and living environment provides for the much better natural immunization because it is complete and general: it trains the entire defense system.
- NOT exposing the dog to environmental intoxication in the house or yard (floor cleaners, adhesives, wood stains, pesticides etc).
- NOT exposing the dog to cell toxins in industrial dog "food".
- NOT ever accepting corticosteroids or other steroids or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- NOT allowing antibiotics treatment unless:
- A culture has been grown in the lab and it confirmed that the pathogen in question indeed is a bacterium.
- AND the bacterium is known to not yet be resistant against the suggested antibiotic.
- AND the disease caused or triggered by the bacterium is life-threatening or a permanent material impairment of quality of life.
- AND a less harmful natural treatment option is unknown - because contrary to the marketing of allopathic medicine antibiotics always are harmful!
Do click the links to understand why.