Skin diseases of the feet and claws in dogs often look very similar and can be frustrating to diagnose. Definitive diagnosis often requires skin scrapings, impression smears, dermatophyte cultures, biopsies, and even broader diagnostic tests for systemic diseases that affect the skin. Clients have a difficult time understanding this and often expect you to recognize a skin disease "on sight." This might be possible for something simple, like a suspected tumor or a broken claw, but when all of the paws are affected, the bigger picture needs to be considered.
The approach veterinary dermatologists take is to consider the examination findings and the signalment and formulate a "short list" of differential diagnoses. In a clinical setting, you would have the benefit of many additional pieces of information, such as physical examination, history, and diagnostic tests-this exercise does not suggest that a diagnosis should ever be made on appearance alone, and it is unlikely that the reader will make a correct diagnosis in all cases.
1. 2-year-old weimaraner: Contact allergic dermatitis