When your dog has a cut on its paw, it can cause pain and may impact their ability to walk or run properly. Our veterinarians in Oakwood are here to provide guidance on how to support your dog's paw injuries.
What are Paw Pads?
A dog's foot is equipped with three main types of paw pads: the metacarpal pad, the primary pad, and the metatarsal pad located just above the foot. These pads serve crucial functions for your dog's mobility and well-being.
Firstly, the pads act as shock absorbers, providing cushioning and support when your dog engages in activities like running or jumping. They aid in maintaining balance and stability during movement.
Additionally, the paw pads play a vital role in protecting your dog's feet from extreme temperatures, whether it's hot pavement or icy surfaces. They act as a barrier against potential burns or frostbite.
About Dog Paw Pad Injuries
Dogs typically do not wear shoes, which means their feet have limited protection. Consequently, it is not uncommon for dogs to sustain injuries to their paws. While their pads naturally toughen and thicken as they grow, it's important to note that they can still be vulnerable to harm, especially from sharp objects.
Healthy foot pads are crucial, so injuries need attention. If your dog limps or licks at her pads, they may be hurting so take the time to check your dog's paws. All of these things can be painful for your dog so it is important to recognize signs of a hurt paw pad, how to treat it at home and when to contact our Oakwood Vets.
Different Types of Injuries:
Depending on the severity of the injury your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for emergency veterinary care during our daytime hours or heading to an emergency vet hospital near Oakwood after hours. Here are some scenarios that may qualify as an emergency.
- Burns (from streets, sidewalks, or rocks) – When the temperatures are high, the ground warms up and can cause burns to your dog’s pads. Your dog will not always react to the hot ground right away and by the time they do, it may be too late.
- Chemical Burns– Household products cause chemical burns, like cleaners (toilet, drain, metal, oven), fertilizers, cement, bleach, pool chlorinators, and some laundry detergents.
- Cracks – Paw pads can crack when they get dried out just like your skin dries out. There are lotions for this.
- Bug Bites or Stings – It's common for dogs to get stung or bitten on their paw pads. Mosquito bites are unlikely to hurt your dog, but fire ants and ground wasps can cause serious injury.
- Foreign Objects – Things such as sticks, thorns, and pebbles can become a problem when stuck in your dog’s paw pad.
- Frostbite – Though your dog has a fat layer to aid in temperature regulation, in extreme cold, they can still get frostbite on the pads of their feet.
- Cuts, Abrasions & Scrapes - Sharp objects like glass and rocks can easily cut through a dog’s pad and cause wounds.
- Punctures – dogs can get puncture wounds from a variety of things, but more often than not, it is from 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.
- Control any 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.
- 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 Oakwood vets.
- 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 food. You should be able to slide two fingers under the bandage. To prevent the bandage from slipping off, wrap up to and including the next joint on your dog’s leg.
- Contain/evaluate 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.
How Much Time Does it Take for the Paw Pad to Heal?
Cut Paw Pads:
To promote faster healing of your dog's cut paw pad, it is crucial to provide proper protection until it is fully healed. Keeping your dog calm and preventing them from running or chewing at the bandage is important. In some cases, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar (also known as a cone) to prevent your dog from accessing the injured paw.
Even after the cut pad has healed to the point where it is no longer painful to touch, it will still remain tender and susceptible to reinjury. It is important to be cautious and avoid activities that could potentially damage the healing pad. Using a bootie or protective footwear can offer an additional layer of defense for the foot.
Burnt Paw Pads:
Burns from hot surfaces can occur when your dog has been outside on extremely hot days. If you notice your dog licking their paws, it may indicate that they have sustained a burn. To help alleviate their discomfort and provide relief, you can run cold water over their paws. This will help cool the burn and soothe the affected area.
However, it's important to note that if you suspect a significant burn or if your dog's condition does not improve, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Burns can range in severity, and professional medical assessment may be necessary to provide appropriate treatment and care for your dog's well-being.
Should I Let My Dog Lick his Cut Paw?
No. 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 into the vet but if you notice any of these things, contact us right away for urgent or emergency care.
- Large or deeply embedded foreign object that may need surgical removal
- If there is discolored or foul-smelling discharge
- Chemical burns/ Severe burns
- Excessive or uncontrolled bleeding
- Deep lacerations that require sutures