What Is Hyperkeratosis In Dogs?

Jun 26, 2022 | Pet Health, Pets

Happy Monday everyone!  Is your pet showing signs of Hyperkeratosis?  I think I’ve dealt with pretty much everything when it comes to pets and animals but then I heard about dogs excessively producing to much keratin and I had to research more.  Jake And Maggie now have rough patches on their elbows which the vet has instructed me to keep watch of them getting hard and crusty.  When this happens, tumors can form that need to be removed.  But Hyperkeratosis is a bit different because it is the main protein that makes up your dog’s paw pads.
When managed properly, hyperkeratosis is a non-fatal, generally mild skin condition. It can lead to more severe issues if it’s not taken care of after diagnosis.  If not taken care of properly, your dog will experience pain and sometimes infection when the paw cracks from non-treatment and length of the Hyperkeratosis.  

The four stages of Jake yawning 🙂

I had just brought the pups home from their “spa day” and they are always worn out.  Jake’s favorite place is on the couch and that was where he headed as soon as we walked in the door.  

What is Hyperkeratosis?
Hyperkeratosis occurs when your dog excessively produces keratin. Keratin is the primary protein that makes up the hair, nails, and skin. It acts as a protective layer of the skin from the external environment. But if too much keratin is present, it could build up and cause harm to your dog.
When your dog has hyperkeratosis, something in their body tells it to produce too much keratin. The result is an excessive amount of the protein, especially in the areas where it is most commonly found (like the paw pads). Some people refer to the condition as “hairy feet” but, although it may look like hair, it’s really just dry, excess skin.

Hyperkeratosis can be either genetic or non-genetic, although it isn’t commonly tested for. In either case, the prevention and treatment remain the same. The only difference is which common triggers are most likely to blame for flare-ups.

Interestingly enough, hyperkeratosis can happen in the same way to the nose. Nasal hyperkeratosis (or “crusty nose”) is slightly more of an enigma than the type that occurs on the feet.
Common Triggers
*Certain Diseases – For non-genetic cases, certain diseases (some of which are preventable with routine vaccination) can also increase the risk of your dog developing hyperkeratosis later on in life. Canine distemper, Leishmaniasis (a rare disease caused by sandfly bites), and Pemphigus foliaceous (an auto-immune disease) may all be potential triggers. Precisely why that happens is unknown, and it doesn’t usually occur in any specific time frame. 
*Zinc Deficiency – When your dog lacks this vital mineral, it can lead to zinc-responsive dermatosis, which can in turn trigger other skin conditions.
*Parasites – Some parasitic diseases, like Leishmaniasis, a disease caused by a biting sand fly, can cause rampant keratin production.
*Autoimmune diseases – With these diseases, the immune system attacks the connection between skin cells, which can lead to the dry and cracked skin presented in hyperkeratosis.
Signs of Hyperkeratosis
The first sign of hyperkeratosis is the most obvious — the tell-tale physical hardening and overgrown appearance of your pup’s paw pads. This excess growth is usually the same color as your dog’s pad color, so you may need to look close or physically touch them to notice.
The second sign is that your dog may whine when they try to walk.  You may also see some bleeding coming from the paw area as they may be dry and cracked.
How To Treat Hyperkeratosis
*Take your dog to the vet regularly
*Invest in doggie shoes
*Check your dogs paw pads on a regular basis
*Apply dog balm to affected areas
*Have your vet remove the affected areas
*Avoid dirty water
Looking for more pet health related posts, check them out here:

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What Do You Think? Let Us Know!


    • Bobbi

      Isn’t he but then again, I’m his momma so I’m partial :-).

  1. Barbara Bolduc

    Wow that was informative to know..will definitely keep an eye out for it with Milo. And Jake just loves the camera! Toooo cute!

    • Bobbi

      I thought so as well. It’s amazing how animals can get skin conditions and growths just like people can. Yes, keeping checking little Milo. He’s just so cute!


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