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Splayed Feet In Dogs: What are splay feet in dogs?

Splayed Feet In Dogs: What Are Splay Feet in Dogs? A Comprehensive Guide on Identification, Causes, and Treatment



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Do you ever see your canine companion walking in a peculiar manner that hints at discomfort? Perhaps, you’ve observed a misshapen quality to their paws? These are common signs of a condition known as splayed feet in dogs. Let’s dive deeper into understanding this condition.

“Splayed feet”, also known as “flat feet”, describes a condition in dogs where the paws are flattened, causing the toes to spread apart unnaturally.

Instead of a rounded and well-arched paw, a dog with splayed feet will have a flat, broad appearance to their paws. They might often appear uncomfortable or hesitant in movement. But wait, what causes this and how can it affect your beloved pet? Let’s take a look at some common causes:

  1. Genetics: Certain breeds are more prone to this condition due to their genetic makeup.
  2. Weight: Overweight dogs often develop splay feet as the excessive weight causes their paws to flatten.
  3. Injury: An injury to the paw or leg could also lead to splayed feet.
  4. Poor Nutrition: Nutritional deficiencies can affect bone and muscle health, leading to structural problems like splay feet.

Splay Feet and Your Dog’s Health

The effects of splay feet are more than just cosmetic. They can greatly affect your dog’s mobility and quality of life. This disorder can cause immense pain and lead to further issues like arthritis or other joint diseases. It’s therefore critical to recognize the signs of this condition and address it promptly. We’ll guide you through recognizing the symptoms, preventive measures, treatment options, and how to help your dog lead a comfortable life.

What is splayed feet in dogs

You may be wondering, what exactly are splayed feet in dogs? Well, splayed feet, also known as ‘flat feet’, is a common condition where the dog’s paws appear flattened, with the toes often spreading apart more than usual. This condition could be related to various health factors or could result from the dog’s lifestyle. Let’s dive deeper to understand this condition better.

The structure of a dog’s paw is designed incredibly – allowing them to walk, run, and jump with agility and ease. Generally, dogs’ paws are rounded, resembling a ‘cat foot.’ In some breeds, there may be slight variance. However, no matter the variance, a dog’s foot structure plays a critical role in their overall health and mobility.

When a dog has splay foot, the natural structure of their paws changes. The paw base widens, the toes spread out, and the fat pad under the foot flattens, creating a ‘spread out’ appearance. This change in structure often affects the dog’s natural movement and may cause other complications.

Splayed Feet In Dogs: What are splay feet in dogs?

Common symptoms that may point to splayed feet include the dog standing or walking differently, difficulty in navigating certain terrains, or even an unusual wear pattern on their nails. Some dogs show visible signs of discomfort or pain, while others may not exhibit noticeable changes. If you notice any abrupt changes in your dog’s gait or foot structure, it is worth visiting your local vet.

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Splay foot can occur due to a range of factors – it could be genetic, a result of obesity, due to ineffective paw grooming, or as a result of an injury. Sometimes, puppies that are raised on smooth or slippery surfaces develop splayed feet as they get older because they need to spread their toes to keep their balance.

Although this is a common condition, it’s not to be taken lightly, as splayed feet can lead to more severe conditions like arthritis over time. In the next section, we’ll dive into the connection between splay feet and your dog’s health. This will help you understand why it’s crucial to address this condition promptly.

The difference between splayed feet and flat foot in dogs

talking about foot abnormalities in dogs, two terms are often thrown around interchangeably: splayed feet and flat feet. While they may appear similar, these conditions are, in fact, distinct, each impacting your dog’s mobility and comfort in different ways. But what’s exactly the difference between splayed feet and flat feet in dogs?

What are Flat Feet in Dogs?

The condition referred to as ‘flat feet’ in dogs, medically known as pancake feet, happens when your pooch’s feet have little to no arch. This means the entire sole of your dog’s foot touches the ground when they stand or walk. It can result from several factors including, breed, weight, age, and even specific physical activities.

The Main Differences

The key difference between splayed and flat feet in dogs originates from their basic structure. The term ‘splayed feet’ describes a foot where the toes spread out excessively, causing a wider and less compact foot shape. On the other hand, ‘flat feet’ relate to a lack of arch in the foot, leading to the entire foot touching the ground.

Here’s a quick comparison to distinguish between these two conditions:

ConditionDescriptionUsually Caused By
Splayed FeetExcessive spreading of the toes, causing a wider footGenetics, obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise
Flat Feet (Pancake Feet)The lack of an arch in the foot, with the entire foot touching the groundBreed predispositions, aging, obesity, certain physical activities

Both splayed feet and flat feet in dogs can cause discomfort and challenges in mobility. However, they require different strategies for prevention and treatment. It’s crucial to correctly identify the condition your dog is suffering from to provide them with the most effective care.

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Main causes of splayed feet in dogs

Now that we’ve figured out what splay feet in dogs are, let’s delve into the primary causes behind this condition. Understanding the origin of your dog’s splayed feet is the first step in addressing the issue and taking the appropriate measures for treatment.

Dog Breeds

Dogs’ splayed feet can be a consequence of their breed characteristics. Some breeds have a predisposition to this condition due to their unique genetic makeup. Bulldogs, Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds for instance, often exhibit signs of splay feet due to the shape and structure of their bodies.


Obesity is another significant factor contributing to splayed feet in dogs. Extra weight exerts additional stress on the dog’s paws, forcing them to splay in order to distribute the weight evenly. This can cause the ligaments and muscles of the foot to stretch and weaken over time, leading to splay feet.


Physical accidents or injuries can also lead to splay feet in dogs. For instance, a severe sprain or fracture might alter the structure of the dog’s foot or paw. This, in turn, can affect the normal positioning of the toes leading to a splay footed stance.

Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies in dogs can directly impact their bone health and development, leading to foot deformities like splayed feet. Lack of essential nutrients like calcium or Vitamin D which are crucial for bone formation can generate such concerns.

In summary, while some causes of splayed feet in dogs are inherent and related to breed characteristics, others can be managed or prevented. Regularly monitoring your dog’s feet for changes, keeping them at a healthy weight, providing adequate nutrition, and promptly addressing any injuries are key to prevent or minimize the risk of splay feet.

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.