If you’ve recently noticed that your dog’s front paws turn inwards either while walking or at a “Sit” still (get it??), there may be a genuine cause for concern. Much like human beings, dogs can also experience joint or orthopedic abnormalities.
As the former owner of a sweet, concave-pawed Doberman, I know that some dog breeds are more likely to have front feet that turn inwards.
It turns out that Dobermans, Shar Pei’s, Great Dane’s, Beagles and Boxers are more likely to have turned-in feet, so the first thing to do as a pet owner is to have a think about whether your pup’s breed plays a part in this equation.
However, all dog breeds can potentially develop inward paws, and the condition is one where it would be right to be at least a little worried.
Other than its breed, if your dog’s front paws turn inwards it could be a sign of a few conditions such as carpal varus, soreness/trauma, or neurological issues.
In this article, we’re going to explore the potential reasons behind a dog’s front paws turning inwards so that we can help to ease your mind.
Hopefully, at the end of this post you will be able to determine whether or not a trip to the vet is needed!
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As I mentioned above, if your dog’s paws are turning inward, breed might be a significant factor. However, that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t need a check up anyway.
When paws turn inwards it points to a condition called Carpal Varus.
“Carpal” refers to the wrist joint, while “Varus” refers to the direction in which the paw points.
Carpal Varus happens when there is an abnormal contracture of the tendon along the carpal joint.
This abnormality can be seen most prominently when a dog is walking because they might begin knuckling or dragging their paws against the ground.
In this article you’ll learn how to identify potential causes of inward facing paws, how they are typically treated by a vet, and how to care for your dog’s paws at home.
If you only notice your dog’s paws turning inwards while walking, this can be a sure sign of the presence of a neurological disease.
Before you get too worried, this form of knuckling is relatively common and may not be that serious. When your dog’s front paws turn inward while walking it’s called a proprioception or CP deficit.
Proprioception refers to how a dog moves and remains aware of its body, and when it has a CP deficit its feet may subsequently turn inwards.
Unless there is a serious spinal condition at play, physical rehabilitation is the typical treatment for a CP deficit.
It’s important to take into account your dog’s age, weight, activity level and breed when determining how serious inward turned paws are.
Consider other health issues your dog may have, or if you have noticed any other symptoms such as:
- Difficulty getting up
Taking into account all possible causes for inward-turned paws will help you get your pup healthy again.
One possible cause for your dog’s concave paws is over-exercising or physical trauma.
Dogs can be especially sensitive to the ground when it is overly hot or cold, and as a result may drag their paws as they walk.
If your dog begins knuckling, it can be an indication that your dog’s inward turned paws are causing them discomfort.
A sore or burned paw that doesn’t improve with rest should be taken to a vet to prevent further injury.
If your dog has inward-turned paws, it may have carpal deformities. This can particularly affect puppies, who go through growth spurts that affect the appearance of their little dog feet.
Deformities could be caused by an excess of protein, so make sure to take a careful look at your dog’s diet.
If your newborn puppy is under four months of age, it’s possible that their paws will return to normal shape.
However, it’s always a good idea to get them looked at by a vet to ensure there will be no long term deformities.
Older dogs (ages 8-14) may experience something called Degenerative Myelopathy– a condition in which myelin, the white matter that surrounds the bone, begins to degrade.
If your dog is wobbling or having difficulty getting up, this may be a sign that their inward facing paws are a serious issue.
While your dog might not be in immediate pain, the disease does progress often to the point where your dog may no longer be able to walk.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a serious concern that may be causing your dog’s inward paws. IVDD may occur as your dog ages, or as a result of physical trauma.
IVDD causes a dog to lose back flexibility, making them more susceptible to injury.
When a dog has IVDD its spinal cord slowly degenerates, causing stiffness, knuckling or an odd walking manner.
Does your dog have ingoing paws and other symptoms such as weakness or a tendency to yelp when you lift its tail? If so, it might be time to look beyond the paws and see if there is something more serious afoot.
Wobblers Syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by compression of the spinal cord. It causes a dog’s gait to worsen over time.
It’s more common in large breeds of dogs such as:
- and Pinchers
Wobblers Syndrome can cause neck and nervous system pain, so keep a close eye on your dog to see if CVI might be the cause of its paws facing inwards.
In large breed dogs, calcium intake is not a factor in CVI. Calcium may be the culprit in puppies and smaller dogs instead. Sometimes treatment requires surgery.
If your dog’s paws are facing inwards it seems to be comfortable walking, running and playing, there’s no harm in taking a trip to the vet to see if a neurological disorder might be the cause.
While vet bills can be expensive, there is always a risk that inward facing paws can turn into something more serious, or that you are not noticing a particular symptom.
Keep an eye out for any discomfort or odd walking movements, and take your dog into the nearest vet hospital as soon as possible.
If you believe that a wound is the cause, you may choose to take a look at it yourself before seeking vet treatment by looking for broken or bleeding nails that may be causing discomfort.
Always wash your hands and your dog’s paws first before carrying out any treatment procedure.
If you notice oozing or crusting at the paw, or no injury at all, it’s time to seek professional medical attention.
The first thing a vet will usually do is inspect the paws for wounds or injuries. This will rule out less serious concerns. If a wound is found, they will treat it for infection and recommend rest.
A vet will be able to diagnose IVDD, a condition that usually requires surgery. Your dog may be put on a few medicines to relieve any pain, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxants
Be sure to follow instructions carefully when administering medication to your dog. You don’t want your dog to choke or accidentally bite you!
If your dog has difficulty swallowing medication, you can purchase dog treats with pockets to make it easier for them to swallow.
Recovery often requires your dog to remain in a dog crate to rest and may take three to six weeks. So keep this in mind, and remember to be very patient with your furry friend.
For other other deformities or for degenerative myelopathy, diagnostic tests such as CT scans and MRIs may also be used. X-rays can determine how serious the problem is.
If no serious issues are discovered, one home remedy that can be helpful in general is adjusting your dog’s diet.
Overweight dogs put more pressure on their paws, so making sure your dog is at a healthy weight can really help out some movement issues.
It may be helpful to put them on a low-calorie yet nutritious diet, such as these top alternatives to the popular Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D range.
Another option is to try dog boots that protect a pooch’s feet. This can eliminate joint discomfort and protect their paws from hot pavement or snowy ground.
A foot brace or pair of training socks can also be very beneficial for your dog. Dogs wear braces and socks as part of physical therapy typically when recovering from an injury.
Your dog may need to wear them constantly or only occasionally, depending on the severity of the inwardly-turned paw.
For puppies, make sure that you are keeping an eye on its calcium intake by choosing low calcium dog food.
Finally, it’s important to give your dog lots of rest between physical activities. By protecting your dog’s inward paws and following your vet’s advice, you may be able to re-stabilize their joints successfully- particularly if your dog is still young.
There are more rehabilitative options you can carry out to help retrain a dog whose front paws turn inward when they walk.
If your dog doesn’t have a serious injury or condition, you can simply retrain your pet’s gait. Make sure you’ve ruled out all possible health issues, particularly progressive illnesses, before you try the following:
- Cavaletti Poles: Used in physical therapy rehab for dogs. Your pet steps over poles, forcing them to reconsider paw placement. This may be beneficial for dogs who do not have spinal or carpal injuries.
- Underwater treadmill sessions: These sessions are used with training socks to help your pet gain strength. Your dog is placed on a treadmill in the water, which encourages them to fully lift their legs while walking.
- “Patterning”: You can help your dog’s gait by moving their legs for them slowly until you no longer need to guide them. This can be done at home. Make sure to be careful with your dog, and use training socks if possible.
Do not expect immediate recovery. Much like human beings, dogs need plenty of time to recover. Your pet will be grateful for the time it has to rest!
There are a variety of ways you can prevent your dog’s paws from turning inwards again, especially if the problem was initially caused by physical trauma or soreness.
Firstly, it’s important to keep your dog healthy with some light exercise. Do not overextend your dog, even if they seem like they have boundless energy!
Jumping and leaping from high places might be fun for your dog, but can also easily result in spinal or carpal damage.
Weigh your dog regularly to keep an eye on its weight and to prevent obesity, which may contribute to injury or illness.
If the weather outside isn’t something you’d go barefoot in, your dog probably doesn’t want to either. Remember that your pet is also sensitive to heat, ice and cold.
Invest in some high quality dog boots or foot pads to ensure your best friend’s paws are not vulnerable to discomfort or injury when walking outdoors.
Anything from glass, needles, and other sharp objects can get stuck in your dog’s paws and cause injury.
Groom your pup regularly. Short hair and nails prevents objects from getting caught in the pad of your dog’s paws. Keep it nice and calm beforehand with these tips!
If you are a breeder (or are planning on breeding dogs), make sure that you properly wean a puppy from its mother. Improper weaning can cause carpal deformities.
If you notice deformities early on, make sure to limit your dog’s mobility. Prepare a nice place for them to rest, and make sure they are in an environment where they can run and dig safely.
As you have found out in this article, if you notice that your furry friend’s paws are turning inwards it could be due to a variety of different conditions.
Some of these conditions may be serious, such as neurological disorders like Wobbler’s Syndrome or an infected wound.
At the end of the day we all want what’s best for our dogs, so if you notice something is strange about their paws or the way they walk, you should definitely schedule an appointment with your local vet as soon as you can.
While you may not want to waste time and money on an unnecessary vet visit, you’ll be able to get peace of mind at the very least- as well as treatment for any potential conditions that may be discovered.
For more tips and helpful advice about becoming a better dog owner, be sure to check out our latest blog posts!
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.