What is canine hard pad disease?

There is a nasty disease called canine distemper that is very serious if your dog gets it - one of the symptoms of distemper is something often called dog "hard pad disease." This is caused by distemper, and what happens is that the nose and the paws of the dog harden and feel extremely stiff. It a kind of hyperkeratosis, which is when the material in the dog's paws that makes them rough is overproduced.

   

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If your dog has this, you must take them to the vet. Do not wait around for more symptoms. Hyperkeratosis can happen without distemper, but it is very serious and the dog could be at risk of a nasty death in a few weeks. Distemper has three stages - if you've just found a dog with hardened paws and nose, think back to the last few weeks. Has the dog been coughing, lost its appetite, or had discharge from its nose?

Those are the symptoms of the first stage of distemper. If the dog survives that, the second stage involves hard pad disease along with vomiting. The final stage is neurological, where the dog will get seizures, tremors, and weakness as the disease attacks its nervous system. Some dogs recover and are fine, some will die. You can  read more here about canine distemper.

If your dog has hyperkeratosis but it is not caused by distemper, then it's not that serious, but you should go to the vet anyway to see about ointments that can be used to treat it as well as minor surgery. It's obviously a very uncomfortable situation for the dog, so it's best to treat it.

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