Corns and plantar warts may be common on human feet, but they’re rare in dogs – unless the dog is a Greyhound. This breed is prone to corns.
Corns are keratin calluses on the front center paw pads, such as under the second toe bone, which lacks subcutaneous tissue or padding.
A common treatment for corns is their removal with a small curette or scalpel, followed by smoothing with a pumice stone and the application of salicylic acid pads or ointments. Roberta Mikkelsen of Pearl River, New York, hoped that hulling (surgical removal) would help her Greyhound, Chip, recover from his painful corns. “This is such a common problem in the breed,” she says, “that there is an online forum where people list the things that did or didn’t help. So far there isn’t a cure.” After Chip’s corn was removed, it grew back.
According to Dr. Bob Taylor of Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” program, an effective treatment is to cover the corn with a small piece of duct tape that does not cover healthy paw pad skin and replace it daily or every three to five days.
Canine warts cause a thickening of the skin and tend to occur on the back or underside of the paw. “Seed warts,” which contain black dots caused by broken blood vessels within the warts, are named for their resemblance to small black seeds. Warts are believed to be caused by the papillomavirus, but despite their viral connection, they are not contagious to dogs or humans.
Warts have so many anecdotal treatments that it’s impossible to list them here. Some are one-application wonders – a single drop of essential oil, a baking soda dressing, or an herbal salve makes a wart disappear for good. Other warts are so difficult to remove that they result in toe amputations.
Any wart or corn on a dog’s paw can be painful, resulting in lameness. Long walks on concrete and other hard surfaces worsen the severity of corns, so walking on softer surfaces as much as possible and wearing well-padded booties can make a positive difference. Thera-Paw boots and slippers were designed for dogs with corns or warts.
For information about other conditions that can affect your dog’s paws or nose, see “Identifying and Treating Skin Conditions Than Can Affect Your Dog.”