As a dog owner, you’re probably constantly looking for those little “red flags” about your furry friend’s health.
Dogs can’t speak up for themselves, so you slowly learn to be vigilant about spotting potential health issues and addressing them as quickly as possible.
While you might know to look for obvious signs of trouble like limping or behavioral changes, some things fly under the radar until just the right moment.
One example is your dog’s paws!
Your pup’s paws don’t nearly get as much attention as the rest of their body.
They’re constantly walking on them, so many owners don’t see much of them until it’s time for grooming.
When you finally catch a glimpse, the appearance of your dog’s paws might catch you off guard!
Despite spending loads of time with your canine companion, you’re surprised to see their paws are pink and black. Were they always that way? Is something wrong?
Let’s talk about it.
6 Possible Reasons Why Your Dog’s Paws are Pink and Black
Before you start panicking, pink and black paws typically aren’t a significant cause for concern.
While you might not see them often, these colors are relatively standard in the canine world.
Whether your dog is all white or covered in several colors doesn’t matter. Pink doesn’t always mean that something is wrong.
Here are 6 reasons your dog’s paws are pink and black.
1. Natural Coloration
In some cases, pink paws are a product of genetics! It’s the same reason your dog has a particular coat or eye color.
You may even notice pink on the nose. The color is there because your dog’s genetic makeup made it so.
There’s a good chance that their ancestors had similarly pink paws, too.
You’re most likely to see pink paws in dogs with lighter-colored fur. It’s common in breeds like the Samoyed, Maltese, and more.
The color is more noticeable in younger dogs—more on that in a minute.
While the color can change as they reach adulthood, some dogs maintain pink paws.
You might notice that only one or two paw pads are pink while the others are black, creating a confusing mix of hues.
In that case, your dog might have mutant genes!
Some mutations prevent the skin on the paws from producing pigment like the rest of the body. It’s a quirky anomaly. However, it’s normal and requires no medical attention.
2. Reaching Maturity
Here’s the most likely scenario.
If you’re wondering why you’ve never noticed that your puppy’s paws are pink and black, there’s a good chance they weren’t!
No, you’re not going crazy. Your dog’s paws might have changed colors.
Most people don’t realize this, but the feet change a lot as dogs mature.
When they’re puppies, the skin is super thin and delicate. It’s the same thing that happens with young human babies.
The tissue is incredibly soft, making it prone to injuries. That’s why most dog experts recommend that you only walk puppies for about five minutes a day.
Anything more than that, and you risk injuries.
The paw pads will transform as your dog grows into a rambunctious older puppy and adult. They go from a fleshy pink color to black or dark brown.
A thicker outer layer of skin, called stratum corneum, develops. It helps to protect the more sensitive parts of the paw underneath.
Your dog may also develop more fat and connective tissue in the paw pad, resulting in a cushioning effect that supports your dog for the rest of its life.
The color change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process; most owners will notice it before the color change is complete.
When that happens, you will likely see patches of pink and black, creating a unique marbling effect.
The patchy look is normal and is just part of canine maturation.
3. Infections, Allergies, and Diseases
Here’s where seeing pink and black could be a cause for concern.
Your dog’s paws are pretty tough once they fully develop. As mentioned earlier, that thick layer of outer skin provides tons of protection.
Meanwhile, the fatty tissue underneath acts like custom insoles to absorb shock and support the joints.
All that said, the paws aren’t indestructible. They can experience damage and infections just like any part of the body.
If your dog looks ill or shows discomfort when walking, the pink and black coloration could signify a minor injury or infection.
Dogs can get conditions from walking outside in bacteria-filled soil. They can also encounter allergens that irritate.
Whatever the case might be, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
In most cases, the injuries are minor. Your vet can assess the situation, ensure no underlying health concerns, and provide a recommended course of action to address the issue swiftly.
Pink and Black Paw Tissue Coloration from Poor Paw Care
Another possible reason for the sudden color change in your dog’s paw is a lack of proper care.
Dog owners go to great lengths to keep their pups healthy, clean, and smelling fresh. But the paw pads are often neglected.
Paws don’t need a ton of attention. But poor maintenance and grooming could increase your dog’s risk of experiencing some nasty injuries.
4. Abrasive Injuries
Does your pooch walk on rough surfaces? Maybe they must get over a splinter deck or navigate through a patch of thorny vegetation to reach their pooping spot.
Whatever the case might be, don’t be surprised if you see some minor injuries here and there.
Abrasive injuries are relatively common.
Walking on rocks, rough dirt, and more can wear down on that thick outer layer of skin. It eventually heals and redevelops. But that’s not before you see some nasty irritation.
Pink spots could indicate wear.
If you don’t give your dog’s paws some time to recover, it’s only a matter of time before those pink spots turn into blisters, scratches, and other unsightly injuries.
Here’s a major problem that often occurs during the summer.
When the temperatures scorch outside, the ground is often hotter. That’s especially true for pavement and asphalt. Black asphalt can be as much as 60 degrees hotter than the air!
That’s more than hot enough to cause burns in mere seconds!
It’s not uncommon for dogs to experience injuries after walking on the pavement on a hot summer day. Sometimes, soil can be just as damaging.
When they step on the hot ground, the thick outer skin burns. Eventually, sores form.
In some cases, burns are so bad that they blister up and start bleeding as soon as your dog comes back inside.
Finally, poor paw care can lead to dryness, cracking, and shedding.
The paw pads need to stay hydrated to stay in good shape. The best thing you can do is let your dog drink as much water as they need.
When dehydrated, the body pulls moisture from the paws to support other biological functions.
Unfortunately, that survival efforts leads to some problems. First, the cushioning depletes, making walking more painful on some surfaces.
Secondly, the outer layer of skin sheds. It can also crack, revealing a fleshy pink tone underneath. In extreme cases, the shedding can get so bad that dogs bleed.
Should You Be Worried When the Paws Turn Black and Pick?
In a majority of cases, pink and black paws aren’t a reason to get worried. The process is likely a natural part of reaching dog adulthood.
The exception is when your dog shows signs of discomfort.
Pay close attention to their behavior. You need to take action if you notice that they’re limping, grimacing, or whining with every step.
The same goes for behavioral changes, shifts in their appetite, and other oddball habits.
If your dog looks genuinely uncomfortable, take them to the vet as soon as possible!
It’s better to be safe than sorry. A vet can perform a detailed inspection, find the root of the problem, and provide a potential solution.
Medical issues are rare, but they can happen. It’s your job to spot the difference and take action.
Canine Paw Care 101
Now that you understand why your dog’s paws are pink and black, let’s talk paw care!
Earlier, we said that many dog owners neglect their companion’s paws. That’s OK if you’re one of them!
Most people aren’t aware of the problems that could occur.
Here are some tips to remember as you adopt a more effective paw care routine.
Always Check Ground Temperatures
This is a big tip to remember when the summer season rolls around. Summer is getting hotter than ever, so you must be extra careful where you take your dog.
Before you walk them on concrete or asphalt, take a moment to feel the temperature.
Use the back of your hand to gauge how hot the surface is in full sunlight.
If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand there for a few seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.
Wait until things cool down, choose a different walking location, or take measures to protect your dog.
Provide Omega Fatty Acids
Your dog’s diet plays a significant role in its overall health. Believe it or not, what your dog eats can even affect the quality of the paw pads!
In addition to keeping your dog well-hydrated, consider adding omega fatty acids into their mix.
Many commercial foods already have omega fatty acids with salmon or flaxseed oil. However, you can also pick up supplements to make up the difference.
Omega fatty acids support the skin, keeping it supple and healthy.
Avoid Puddles and Messy Areas
Does your dog love to roll around in the muck? Try to prevent your dog from doing that too much.
At the very least, don’t let them wallow around in questionable cesspools in areas you don’t control.
Mud puddles could be breeding grounds for bacteria that eventually cause infections and health problems in the paws.
Consider Using Dog Shoes
Your dog will hate them at first, but dog shoes can be a real game-changer.
These simple accessories strap onto your dog’s feet, providing the utmost protection.
They’re perfect for running over rough terrain, navigating hot asphalt, and more.
Clean and Groom the Paw Pads Regularly
When you groom your dog, pay attention to the paw pads.
Check between each toe and clean the feet thoroughly. Then, trim the hair.
Hair could make it difficult for your dog to get a good grip on smooth floors. Plus, the fur could hold onto moisture, bacteria, and mold.
Use Conditioner or Wax
One product you can add to your grooming arsenal is paw wax or conditioner. These balm-like products are akin to lip moisturizers.
They help lock in hydration, eliminating the risk of cracked pads and pain.
Rub some of the product in whenever you groom your dog. It comes in handy during dryer times of the year, too.
Seeing your dog’s paws turn pink and black can be alarming. Luckily, it’s usually not a major issue. In the times that it is related to injuries, dogs typically recover quickly.
Take steps to maintain good paw health, and your dog will have no problem jumping and playing to its heart’s content!
Also Read: Reasons for Cold Ears in Dogs