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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Dog Veterinarian
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Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science (University of Melbourne, Australia)
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My dog has a sensitive pad it has a worn on side where she

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My dog has a sensitive pad it has a worn on side where she has licked it. She limps - a more and more pronounced limp and holds the foot up occasionally. A hard keratin ?has formed on the worn side of pad. Is surgery necessary?


Can I ask you some questions first

  1. How long has she been limping and chewing at the foot?
  2. Is there any discharge from the pad (fluid, pus, blood)?
  3. The “keratin”. Is it a raised nodule or just a hard plaque? What size?
  4. Has your vet suggested surgery already?
  5. What is her general health like?

Thanks, Peter.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She has probably been on and off limping for a month. Wasn't sure if it was something else. As I am a flight attendant and not continuously my roommate noticed it. Now the limping is consistent and seems more pronounced. she doesn't chew on her foot, just gently licks it. No blood, no puss or fluid discharge. No cracks or punctures or raised nodules on pad or in area of sensitivity. She seriously does not want to have it looked at. The hard plaque is not on pad, but on side - edge down along side of pad to base.

She, Rose is in good health - when she was limping we thought maybe a pulled muscle or arthritis? The vet said he has no idea..there may be a cyst under pad. Is surgery really necessary?

Hi again

Thanks for the additional information. Sorry but just a little bit more clarification.

If this is not actually on the pad itself? Then we are not dealing with a corn which first came to mind when you mentioned “keratin”.

  1. So it is on the border of the skin near the pad?
  2. Is it inflamed or simply hard tissue?
  3. Outside toe? What dimensions?


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for responding Peter, The pad is sensitive to touch. The hard tissue plaque? Sides the pad where the fur was along the pad bump down between toes. Yes on the border of the pad not inflamed. Don't know why I said keratin. It is between the second set of pads (middle?)above the larger bottom pad on paw. Between the bottom large pad on the lower edge of middle outer pads. She's really intolerant of my looking at it. She's a lab/chow/border collie. Approx 3/4" along whole pad and 1/4" depth? Guessing on last measurement. She has been in the water a lot today and it looks like the hard tissue separated off...I think. Thanks.


Thanks MaryAnn

Describing things like this can be very difficult!

It’s not possible to positively identify this without actually seeing it of course. However it would seem to be causing Rose discomfort with the licking and the fact that she resents it being handled. The lameness is probably related too although we would have to always consider a separate issue (eg arthritis, strain, injury, etc) but I’m sure your vet would have checked for that.

So first what are the possibilities? An inflammatory nodule is a strong possibility. So this may have started out as a penetrating injury, insect sting, spider bite, etc. Perhaps something quite insignificant. The lesion is then perpetuated by Rose continually licking at it as that causes the release of histamines that can be the root cause of the irritation. It becomes a self-perpetuating problem. It’s unlikely that there is still any foreign material present as there is no discharging sinus.

It may also be a skin cyst or growth of some sort, sitting below the surface and causing discomfort when it’s compressed (walking). Interdigital cysts will occur in that area (and Chows are a bit prone). Your vet is thinking there may be something under the pad…I guess that could still be a corn…they will often appear at the pad margin and can be deep.

It’s gradually worsened so it needs to be dealt with. Ointments are of limited value when the patient is licking a lot and most probably the lesion is too deep anyway. A course of cortisone and/or antibiotics could be tried…you could ask your vet about that. However it sounds to me as though a surgical exploration might be the best option. There’s not a lot of room there and we would prefer it to not get too much bigger to get good closure

I hope I’ve been of help. Please contact me back if I can assist further.

Kindest regards, Peter.

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