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Why Are Dogs Paws Sensitive?

From eating and playing to running after prey and digging in the dirt, dogs use their paws for a whole host of activities. That's why it's so important to know the various situations that can pose harm or discomfort to their sensitive paws. Dogs' paws can withstand a lot, but you should look for common issues and injuries. Read on to learn more about the anatomy of your dog's paws and how you can be mindful of their sensitivity.

Related: The Humanization of Dogs

What Are Dog Paws Sensitive To?

Much like human hands, dogs' paws can be sensitive to certain things. One of the more obvious sensitivities involves extreme temperatures. If you're concerned that it's too hot to take your dog for a walk, stand barefoot on the pavement for a few seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog's sensitive paws. 

Dogs can also be sensitive to human touch on their paws. Don't take it personally if your pup pulls away when you try to touch their foot; this is a natural defense mechanism as dogs are hardwired to protect the most critical parts of their body from potential harm. 

Keep your pup’s paws safe with dog sneakers from RIFRUF

The Structure of a Dog's Paws

close up picture of a dogs paw

Dogs' paws are made up of many interconnected parts. Here is a basic breakdown of the anatomy of a dog paw. 


Dogs use their claws for nearly everything, from catching prey out in the wild to playing with their favorite toy. Dogs' claws might be similar to human nails, but they contain some key differences. Both are made of keratin, but dogs' claws grow directly from their bones. This is partly why they are highly sensitive to trimming and cutting. 

Digital Pads

These are the parts of your dog's paw responsible for their pawprints. Gods have four digital pads per paw, and they usually have a darker color and leathery, rough feeling. Digital pads help support dogs' weight and assist them with gripping things. 

Metacarpal Pad

This is the larger pad that sits beneath the top four digital pads. It also helps support weight and helps reduce stress on dogs' joints while walking or running. Metacarpal pads are thick and may come in a range of pigments. 


Dewclaws can be compared most directly to human thumbs. However, unlike thumbs, they are not connected to the rest of the paw pads, and they are found a little off to the side on the dogs' legs. They come into play when dogs are running at high speeds, as they help stabilize the dogs, especially on slippery or uneven surfaces. 

Carpal Pad

These pads are always found on the front paws, but not all dogs have them on their back paws. Carpal pads sit much higher up on a dog's leg, effectively where wrists are on humans. They help the dog run and stop abruptly, much like dewclaws. 

Signs of Injuries or Ailments

a dog putting a paw on a human hand

Your dogs will probably show signs or indications of an issue with their paw. Keep looking for any of the following to see if your dog has a paw problem. 

Excessive Licking

Licking is a way your dog self-soothes an injured or sore paw. Check for an injury if you notice your dog is licking their paw more than usual. They might try to resist having you touch their paw, but this is normal due to their natural sensitivity. Schedule a vet appointment if the excessive licking continues. 

Related: How to Calm Down a Dog When They're Anxious


Whether humans or animals, swelling is the body's natural response to injury. This swelling could result from many issues, such as a bee sting, puncture wound, or excessive licking. Check for foreign objects and consult a vet if swelling persists. 

Broken, Cracked, Ingrown Nails

Nail issues are always tricky for dogs because of their nails' sensitivity. Dogs' nails are more like claws, as they are connected to the rest of their paws and filled with nerves and blood vessels. Broken, cracked, or ingrown nails can happen naturally or as a result of an injury. Keep a damaged nail clean and seek medical attention for your dog to avoid infection. 

Blister and Burns

Blisters and burns need to be treated properly and promptly. The vet will assess your dog's blister or burn and thoroughly clean the affected area. They may also prescribe your dog antibiotics to prevent infection from setting in. Be extra careful when taking your dog outside in the summer, especially if you take them on a pavement or cement surface. 

Cracked, Crusty Paws

If your dog has cracked or crusty paws, this could be a sign that they have a zinc deficiency. It could also be a consequence of your dog spending excessive time on hard surfaces. Yet another option is that the cold weather is drying out your dog's paws. Whatever the case, the fix for cracked or crusty paws is almost always dog-safe moisturizer or lotion

Paw Maintenance and Care

Regularly monitoring your dog's paws can go a long way in detecting issues before they arise and helping keep their paws in good shape. Schedule time to clean off your dog's paws and take care of other paw-related tasks such as trimming their nails or shaving off the excessive fur from around their toes. Additionally, ensure you have the vet look at your dog's paws at every regular checkup. 

Related: How to Show Your Dog You Love Them

Dog Shoes to Protect Paws

RIFRUF dog shoes can help keep your dogs paws protected

Luckily, your dog doesn't have to go barefoot. Grab a pair of RIFRUF dog sneakers so your dog's paws can stay perfectly snug and protected. We offer many different colors so you can find the set that matches your dog's unique personality. 

Keeps Their Paws Healthy

Your dog's paws are crucial to their overall health. You can do your part to make sure their paws serve them well for years to come by paying attention to any activity involving their feet and keeping an eye out for behavior that might indicate there's an issue with their paws. And, of course, RIFRUF is here to help your pup look fabulous while protecting their paws with our dog sneakers available in a wide assortment of colors and styles. 

Find your dog's next pair of sneakers at RIFRUF

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