Your dog's footpads are the toughest part of his skin, and absorb
the shock and pressure on his joints from standing, walking and running.
Due to their function, paws are prone to injury. Dog paw care should
be a part of your regular care routine. A brief inspection of checking
between your dog's toes and pads to make sure they are clean and free of
mud, dirt and debris after prolonged outdoor activity, and routinely
as part of regular grooming, will help keep your dog's feet healthy.
Typical paw injuries include: abrasions, lacerations, punctures,
burns and blisters to the footpad, dry, cracked pads and foreign objects lodged
between the toes.
Symptoms of a Paw Injury:
the injured paw off the ground
- discoloration of the pad (difficult to
see if the paws have a very dark pigmentation)
- excessive licking and/or
chewing of the paw.
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then you'll want
to identify what is causing the problem. Be extremely careful handling an injured
dog, even the most mild mannered dog can bite if he's in pain and feels
threatened by your touch. Putting a muzzle on your dog is a good way to
protect yourself from a bite.
Treating Abrasions, Lacerations and Punctures
contain a great number of blood vessels, so even a superficial paw cut
can result in what seems like a serious amount of bleeding. The bleeding
should stop relatively soon after you've treated the wound; if it doesn't,
then contact your vet.
For abrasions and small cuts, clean the wound yourself with
an anti-bacterial wash (chlorhexidine diluted with water will
suffice) and wrap the paw with a light bandage. You will want to stop your
dog from licking and chewing at the bandage - a good way to do this is
to put an Elizabethan collar around his neck for a few days. Your dog sweats
through his footpads, so the bandage will become moist within a couple of days.
Moist bandages slow down the rate of healing and can result in infection, so
you should change the bandage every two to three days.
Depending on how deep the cut is, it should heel within a few
days; if it doesn't and you are unsure how to carry on treating the wound,
contact your veterinarian.
With deep paw lacerations, take your dog to your vet
for treatment. He will suture (stitch) the pad, bandage it and probably
apply a splint. Without the splint, every time your dog puts his paw to
the ground, the pad will spread due the weight of your dog's body being
applied to the paw, and it's likely that the cut will open
Burns and blisters
Your dog's pads can easily
burn and blister as a result of walking on a hot pavement or through hot
If you look at your dog's pad there will either be a loose flap of the
pad itself or the flap will have detached, leaving a red ulcerated
The best thing you can do is to apply anti-bacterial wash and cover the
paw with a bandage until the pad has healed. If your dog has a loose flap
of pad you'll need to wait for this to come off, which it will do on its
own or you can ask your vet to trim it off.
Dry, Cracked Pads
Your dog's pads are naturally
rough. They have to be so he has traction when he needs to turn quickly,
sprint off and stop quickly. If the pads become cracked they are prone
to collect dust and debris, which can cause further injury to the pad.
Pads can be moisturized using a special footpad cream. Try to avoid using
human hand moisturizer as this tends to soften the pads too much and makes
them prone to injury.
Foreign objects between the toes
common culprits are burrs, small stones and pieces of glass, dried mud
and also your dog's matted fur. These can usually be removed with a pair
of tweezers and matted fur can be trimmed back.
When to Go to the Vet
Always contact your vet if you are:
of the cause of the injury
- are not comfortable treating the injury
- the wound does not appear to be healing
- if your dog's paw
Your vet will either recommend further treatment to carry
out at home or suggest you visit the clinic.
Sometimes accidents will happen,
but you can reduce the risk of footpad injury by keeping your home and yard clear
of sharp objects and rough debris. Take care when you are out to avoid
hazards such as broken glass and other debris on pavements, walking on gravelled
areas for a long period of time, hot pavements in the summer and road salt
in the winter.
The best way to think about this is to ask yourself if you
would be happy walking barefoot on that ground. If not, don't make
your dog walk on it.