Dog Paw Injuries:
Common Paw Pad Hazards and
How to Treat Them


Dog paw injuries can happen for a variety of reasons, even though dogs' paws are protected by thick fatty tissue covered by tough, leathery skin.

Dogs' feet undergo a lot of wear-and-tear and are subject to many hazardous conditions, from broken glass to scorching pavement. In addition, paw pads contain many blood vessels. Because of this, even minor paw injuries can result in a lot of bleeding. Although you can't avoid all dog paw injuries, you can definitely minimize their risk by practicing good dog paw care on a daily basis.

Common Dog Paw Injuries

dog paw injuries dog with raised paw

  • Cuts or slicing from sharp objects such as glass
  • Punctures from objects such as glass, nails, and fishhooks
  • Foreign objects such as splinters, thorns, grass awn, staples, or glass
  • Burns from chemicals or hot surfaces
  • Cracking due to dryness or allergies
  • Irritation due to licking or chewing
  • Winter months in cold climates can bring dog paw injuries from snow, ice and road salt.
To protect your pooch's paws against injuries that result from stepping on foreign objects or scorching hot pavement, try the all-weather Muttluks Dog Boots Itty Bitty/XXSmall Color: Yellow All Weather Size: XXSmall, which feature waterproof fabric and salt- and heat-resistant leather soles to protect your dog's pads as well as soft knit cuffs that can be pulled up or folded down.

In the winter months, you can guard against dog paw injuries from snow, ice, salt and chemical de-icers with Muttluks Hott Doggers Dog Boots Muttluks Hott Doggers Dog Boots Itty Bitty/XXSmall Color: Red Size: XXSmall, which have tough leather soles and are lined in fleece to keep your dog’s tootsies warm.

If your dog refuses to wear boots, you can apply a paw wax such as , which acts like a boot by forming a dense, breathable barrier on your dog’s paws.

It's also a good idea to apply a paw pad balm such as to moisturize your dog’s foot pads and help soothe and heal cracked, dry pads, cuts and hot spots.

Treating Dog Paw Injuries

The first thing to do when your dog has a paw injury is to assess whether you can handle it at home or whether he will require medical attention. If there is only minor bleeding that you are able to stop on your own within a few minutes, chances are you can take care of the situation at home, providing you take precautions to prevent infection and protect the wound to foster proper healing.

However, if the paw is bleeding moderately to severely or there is an object embedded too deeply for you to safely remove it, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Since dogs' footpads can bleed severely, you need to be careful that the situation doesn’t turn dangerous.

Bear in mind that each time your dog puts weight on the foot, there is a chance that the wound will open up. In this case, a pressure bandage should be applied from the paw upwards, including all the toes, to prevent further bleeding.


Tips on Treating Dog Paw Injuries:

Inspect the wound.
By performing a visual and tactile (feeling with your fingers) inspection of the wound, you will be able to assess the cause and severity, and determine whether you can treat it at home or whether your dog will require veterinary assistance.

To exam the paw, gently move your fingers over the surface of the pads and carefully in between the digits to see if you can feel a foreign object. Talk gently and soothingly to your dog as you do so, watching carefully to see if he shows any signs of pain as you touch him. If possible, turn his paw so that it is facing up and perform a visual inspection, looking for any cuts, abrasions, burns or punctures in the pad. If you cannot find anything and your dog continues to show signs of pain, seek veterinary assistance.

Remove any foreign object from the foot.
If you identify a foreign object that is not too deeply imbedded, you may want to attempt to remove it on your own. You can attempt to remove the foreign object with sterilized tweezers (sterilize with a flame or by dipping them in alcohol). However, if the object you are trying to remove breaks or is too deep too remove, your dog will need medical attention.

Clean the wound.
If bleeding is minimal, clean the wound by gently washing the area with an antiseptic liquid soap (such as Betadine), a 50/50 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide, or squirt it with a sterile saline solution. Never vigorously scrub the wound, as this will just serve to facilitate additional bleeding. Dry the paw once you have washed it.

Control the bleeding.
If you cannot bring the bleeding under control within five minutes, seek veterinary attention. The wound may need to be sutured or stapled.

To control the bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth, towel or sterile gauze pad. You can also wrap the dressed wound with an ice pack or apply an ice pack to the area. Lying the dog down with the injured side facing upwards and the foot raised will tend to slow the bleeding.

Bandage the wound.
First, spread a thick coat of antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) onto a clean, non-stick gauze pad and apply the pad over the wound. Secure the pad in place by attaching two strips of adhesive tape to it, placing one piece of tape on either side of the foot and running the tape up the leg several inches above the wound. Once in place, the tape should look like a splint holding the gauze pad in place.

Next, wrap a roll of cotton gauze around the foot, continuing to wrap it up the leg, ending just above the ankle or wrist.

Finish the dressing by wrapping a self-adhesive bandage over the cotton wrap to hold it in place. If you don’t have adhesive bandage or tape you can place duct tape around the dressing to secure the wrap and keep the foot from getting wet.

To protect the dressing when your dog goes outside, cover it with a plastic bag or wrap it in duct tape.

Be sure to change the dressing every one to two days, making certain that the wound is healing properly and is not infected.

Note
Getting the tension of the bandages just right is very important with dog paw injuries. You need to be certain that you don’t roll the gauze too tight, or you will cut off circulation. Periodically check the leg and toes for coolness and swelling. If the toes are swollen, the nails will be spread apart. If you observe any signs of coolness, swelling or pain, immediately loosen the bandage. Never tie a tourniquet or anything else tight around your dog’s leg, as it could cut off circulation to the foot!

Dog paw injuries can range from minor to severe. The bottom line is that if you cannot stop the bleeding in your dog’s paw within a few minutes, he is in pain, or there is something deeply lodged in it, get him medical attention as quickly as possible.

Neglecting dog paw injuries can result in severe loss of blood, infection and other needless complications.

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Legal Disclaimer
If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.



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