Hyperkeratosis in Dogs: Does Your Dog Have Hairy Feet?

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Dog paw with Hyperkeratosis
Photo Credit: BullMarketFrogs.com

Hyperkeratosis is also known as hairy dog feet. This is probably self-explanatory, but it’s called this because it looks like your dog is growing abnormal hairs on his skin. This can be a painful experience which is why it’s important to take your dog to the vet. There may be an underlying cause as to why your dog has hyperkeratosis.

What is Canine Hyperkeratosis?

Canine hyperkeratosis is when the skin on your dog’s nose or paws thickens and hardens. Unfortunately there is no cure, but there are things you can do to prevent your dog from getting hyperkeratosis. This skin condition in dogs occurs when there is too much keratin. There are two types of hyperkeratosis: nasal hyperkeratosis in dogs occurs on the nose area and foot pad hyperkeratosis occurs on the paws. Dogs with hyperkeratosis may have dried out, callous looking paws and noses. If the skin cracks, an infection may develop.

What’s the Cause of Hyperkeratosis in dogs?

Unfortunately, hyperkeratosis is passed down through genes. Specifically, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dogues de Bordeaux, Iris Terriers and Bedlington Terriers commonly develop this skin condition. Hyperkeratosis often occurs in the first year of a dog’s life after it’s passed down through genes. Skin conditions in dogs, like hyperkeratosis, can be symptoms of other problems including the following.

  • Canine Distemper – A vaccine is given to puppies for Canine Distemper which is why this virus is rare.
  • Leishmaniasis – Caused by a parasite, which is often carried by sandflies. This illness can be controlled with medicine.
  • Pemphigus Foliaceus – This is a common autoimmune skin disease that is often diagnosed with a biopsy. It is treatable with immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Zinc Responsive Dermatosis – This is a skin disease that can occur if a dog is not absorbing zinc properly. It can be treated with zinc supplements.

How Do You Treat Hyperkeratosis?

Looking for hyperkeratosis in dogs paws treatment? Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time. However, the skin condition can be managed by softening and then removing the hardened skin on your dog’s paws and nose. Make an appointment with your vet to have this done frequently.

How To Remove Hyperkeratosis

As we mentioned above, if your dog has hyperkeratosis it’s important to keep it controlled and have the excess skin trimmed off. Make an appointment with your vet and if you and your vet are comfortable, your vet can teach you how to trim your dog’s paws. Here is a video of how the process works.

Call Your Vet

If your dog has hyperkeratosis you should take him to the vet. Since hyperkeratosis is a symptom of other illnesses, there is a chance that your dog is sick with something else, as well.

Has your dog ever had hyperkeratosis?

Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She and her husband adopted Sally, a four-year-old hound mix, in early 2017, and she has brought so much joy into their lives. Life as pet parents has been very rewarding.

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My Chinese Crested mom & son have this.I wish they’d find something other than trimming to help.
Stan Weimer
Well, I see after reading the replies from all of you out there in dog land, & without a cure for Hyperkeratosis,(how convenient)… man’s best friend is to suffer to a no cure to Hyperkeratosis until the Veterinarian industry once again get’s its pound of flesh from us all, We can send a man to the moon & back… but we can’t seem to invent a non leaky coffee pot while pouring a cup of Java, or a cure for Hyperkeratosis. My Blue Healer/Border Collie has this dam Hyperkeratosis as well, & upon reading the diagnosis of the prognosis from everyone; It looks like we’re all up the same proverbial creek without a paddle when staring at high vet bills & an empty wallet (from a no cure) from this stuff. Ya know… what did people do a 100 yrs. ago when their ranch dogs got sick from this stuff? Welllllll; back then they didn’t get sick, because greedy dog breeders hadn’t entered on the scene yet to mess with their gene’s, & auto immune systems. money,money,money. My Vet drives a Corvette.
I have a 7 year old Dingo who broke his leg two years ago. Since then he never really walks on it fully more like tippy toe. I just noticed that he has a hairy paw and was thinking the cause maybe not putting his full weight on it? I will be taking him to the vet ASAP but dreading it as he is not very cooperative and will have to be sedated.
I use an amope callous remover on my Shetland Sheepdog’s feet. Because she’s so calm, it’s an easy way to control the issue.
My dog gets it on her nose. I simply use coconut oil and it seems to calm it down and the flakes subside.
Can this happen in older dogs? My pup is almost 10years old and his paws just got like this.
My dog got this about age of 9. He is now followed by a dog dermatologist. She sees him every 3 or 4 months. He is sedated and the hard areas on his paw pads are trimmed. I think she uses a Dremel tool. She also trims his nails since he hates it, might as well while he is knocked out. Every day I put cream on his paw pads, sometimes twice. I use several different ones. I use bag balm, but it is so sticky I then cover his feet with kids socks and use scrunchies to keep them on till it absorbs. I also use Dermoscent bio balm, this was recommended by the derm vet, not as greasy and works well. Kerasol intensive foot repair I use, got it online from Target ( it is for people). The best thing is warm foot soaks with food grade propylene glycol. I put about 1/2 inch of warm water in the tub then add about 1 or 2 cups of the propylene glycol. It is supposed to be 1/2 water, 1/2 glycol, but I just eyeball it. I make him stand there for about 5-7 minutes. This really softens the hard areas. Doing all this really keeps the keratosis at bay for the most part. He still needs the trim but it doesn’t get as bad as the first time and he is able to walk. Hope this helps, I gleaned all this info from reading stuff on the Internet and the vet agreed with it.
Hi, does this make a dog limp
Does anyone know if there is any research or any trials going on or in the works to find a cure for this disease? Our Airedale has had this condition since birth (though we had no idea what it was, but the breeder did and kept breeding dogs with it) and it’s horrible for her! We can only do so much and it’s getting to the point she’s in alot of pain. We take her to the derm for pad trims and dremel every couple of months and she loathes it! It’s breaking my heart. We do all the home treatments listed above but it just seems so terrible for dog and the family. There must be something more that can be done!
i am putting dermoscent bio balm on my english pointer 3 feet to soften then i trim she is walking good now it takes time i also put a product from brown dog (online) on her which also works great i trim my dogs pads with a fine nail scissor hang in there
There are more areas affected. My dog has it on her backside and tail. I would think anywhere they have skin, which is everywhere, it could be an issue.
Kimberly Alt
Oh no, I’m so sorry Stephanie. I suggest making an appointment with your dog’s vet to have the hardened areas removed.