Cuts on your dog's paw can lead to serious health issues. If your dog has a cut on its paw, it can feel uncomfortable, or even painful and impact its mobility. In this post, our North Providence vets explain what to do for your dog's paws and how we can help.
A Dog's Paw Pads
Your dog has 3 types of paw pads on its foot: the metacarpal pad, the primary pad, and the metatarsal pad, which is located just above the foot.
These pads provide shock absorption when your dog jumps or runs. Their paw pads also help them balance and protect their skin against extreme temperatures. The pad's outer area will develop calluses over time, much like people's hands and feet. This will add more protection.
About Dog Paw Pad Injuries
Because dogs don't normally wear shoes, their feet have very little protection. It's not uncommon for our vets to see dogs with injured paws. While our dogs' pads will toughen and thicken as they grow, these pads are still vulnerable to injury caused by sharp objects or extreme temperatures.
Things that may injure a dog's paw pads include stones or broken glass, chemical burns that occur in your home or on the street, and heat from hot sidewalks on scorching summer days, which can cause blistering.
Healthy foot pads are crucial to a dog's health and mobility, so injuries need immediate attention. If you notice your dog limping or licking at her pads, they may be injured, so dedicate time to checking your dog's paws for any signs of pain or injury.
All of the circumstances listed above can be painful for your dog, so it's important to recognize signs of a hurt paw pad, how to treat it at home and when to contact our North Providence vets.
Different Types of Injuries
Your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for emergency veterinary care during our daytime hours (or going to an emergency vet hospital near North Providence after hours), depending on the severity of your dog's injury. Here are some scenarios that may qualify as an emergency:
- Bug Bites or Stings - Dogs can get bitten or stung on their paw pads. While mosquito bites are unlikely to hurt your dog, ground wasps and fire ants can cause serious injury.
- Burns (from sidewalks, streets, or rocks) - When temperatures are high, the ground warms up and can easily burn your dog's pads. A dog will not always react to the hot ground right away, but it might be too late by the time they do.
- Chemical Burns - Household products such as cleaners (drain, toilet, metal oven), cement, pool chlorinators, bleach, fertilizers, and some laundry detergent can cause chemical burns.
- Cuts, Abrasions & Scrapes - Glass, rocks, and other sharp objects can easily cut through a dog's paw pad and cause wounds.
- Cracks - If paw pads dry out (much like skin), they may crack. Some lotions can prevent this.
- Foreign Objects - Sticks, thorns, pebbles, and other objects can get stuck in your dog's paw pad and cause pain or other issues
- Frostbite - While your dog has a layer of fat to help temperature regulation, they can still get frostbite on their foot pads in extremely cold temperatures.
- Punctures - These wounds can occur due to a variety of causes such as sticks in the woods or yard.
How to Treat a Paw Injury at Home
If your dog has a minor wound, it is okay to take care of it at home. But you will need to keep an eye on the injury while it heals to ensure there aren't any further complications.
- Clean the Wound - Cleaning out your dog's wound is very important because things can get stuck in their pads and this can cause long-lasting pain if not removed. To clean out the cut you need to gently run/pour cool water over the paw and cut. Make sure to remove any stones, sticks, glass or anything else stuck. You may need to use tweezers to get smaller pieces of debris. You may need to use soap to clean the cut/burn more thoroughly. Be careful not to forcefully remove any pieces of debris, those may need to be removed by our North Providence vets.
- Control Bleeding - If you notice that the wound is bleeding, it is important to control the bleeding so you can determine if your dog is going to need to see a vet. If the wound does not look large or deep, you will need to hold pressure on it until it stops bleeding.
- Contain/Evaluate/Elevate the Wound - Now that the wound is cleaned and is no longer bleeding, this is a good time for you to evaluate the wound and decide if you need to see the vet. Deep or jagged cuts may require sutures for optimal healing.
- Bandage - Place a nonstick gauze pad directly over the cut and secure it with paper tape. Then wrap your dog’s foot using roll gauze. The bandage should be tight enough to stay on, but also needs to be loose enough to allow circulation to your dog’s foot. You should be able to slide two fingers under the bandage. To prevent the bandage from slipping off, wrap it up to and including the next joint on your dog’s leg.
How Much Time Does it Take for the Paw Pad to Heal?
Cut Paw Pads:
Your dog’s cut paw pad will heal faster if it’s protected until fully healed. Keep him quiet, and prevent him from running or chewing at the bandage (this may require the use of an Elizabethan collar). Even after your dog’s pad has healed enough that it isn’t painful to touch, it will still be tender and vulnerable to repeat injury. Avoid activities that could damage the healing pad, or use a bootie to protect the foot. Healing time will vary depending on the size of the cut.
Burnt Paw Pads:
If your dog steps into a chemical substance, hold the foot under running water for several minutes. Then you will need to wash the paw in mild soap (Be careful with scented soaps - you do not want to irritate the wound.) Rinse thoroughly. You should be wearing gloves to avoid skin irritation.
Burns from heat can also happen naturally when your dog has been outside on very hot days. If you notice them licking their paws, you may want to run cold water on your dog's paws to help the burn and provide some relief.
Should I Let My Dog Lick his Cut Paw?
It can be very hard to control whether your dog licks their wounds but it is always good to avoid licking the wound. That could transfer unwanted germs into the wound. But allowing your dog to gently lick their "non-serious" wound can be fine because they may be able to remove any debris that is still stuck in the wound.
When Should I Take my Dog to the Vet?
There are many reasons to take your dog to the vet but if you notice any of these things, contact us right away.
- Excessive or uncontrolled bleeding
- Deep lacerations that require sutures
- Large or deeply embedded foreign object that may need surgical removal
- If there is discolored or foul-smelling discharge
- Chemical burns/ Severe burns
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.