Cuts on your dog's paw can pose a serious concern. If your dog sustains a paw cut, it may cause discomfort and pain and impact their walking or running. In this article, our vets at Concord delve into actions you can take for your dog's paws and ways we can assist.
What are Paw Pads?
Your dog's foot has three kinds of paw pads: the metacarpal pad, the primary pad, and the metatarsal pad located just above the foot. When your dog runs or jumps, these pads absorb shock, providing balance and protection against extreme temperatures. Over time, the outer area of the pad develops calluses, adding an extra layer of protection, similar to the calluses that form on your hands and feet.
About Dog Paw Pad Injuries
Dogs typically do not wear shoes, leaving their feet minimally protected. Injuring their paws is not uncommon. While their pads toughen and thicken as they grow, they remain vulnerable to injuries from sharp objects. Be vigilant for hazards such as broken glass or stones, household chemicals, and hot sidewalks causing blistering on scorching days.
Maintaining healthy foot pads is crucial, necessitating prompt attention to injuries. If your dog limps or licks its pads, it may be in pain, prompting you to check for any issues. Recognizing signs of a hurt paw pad, understanding how to administer home treatment, and knowing when to consult Concord vets is essential, as these injuries can be painful for your dog.
Different Types of Injuries:
Depending on the severity of the injury, your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for emergency vet care during our daytime hours or heading to an emergency vet hospital near Concord after hours. Here are some scenarios that may qualify as an emergency:
- 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 various things, but they are often from sticks in the woods or yard.
- 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 immediately; 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 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 – Sticks, thorns, and pebbles can become problematic when stuck in your dog's paw pad.
- Frostbite – Though your dog has a fat layer to aid in temperature regulation, they can still get frostbite on the pads of their feet in extreme cold.
How to Treat a Paw Injury at Home
You can handle the care at home if your dog sustains a minor wound. However, monitoring the injury during the healing process is crucial to prevent any potential complications.
- Clean the wound - Cleaning your dog's wound is vital to avoid long-lasting pain caused by foreign objects getting lodged in their pads. To clean the cut, gently run or pour cool water over the paw and cut. Ensure the removal of any stones, sticks, glass, or other debris. Use tweezers if necessary for smaller pieces, and consider using soap for a more thorough cleaning. Exercise caution and avoid forcefully removing debris; such instances may require intervention from our Concord vets.
- Control any bleeding- Take immediate steps to control it if you observe bleeding. This will help you assess whether a visit to the vet is necessary. If the wound appears small or shallow, apply pressure until the bleeding stops.
- Contain/evaluate the wound - Once the wound is cleaned and bleeding is under control, take the opportunity to assess its severity. 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. Proceed to wrap your dog's foot using roll gauze. The bandage should be tight enough to stay in place but loose enough to allow proper circulation. Ensure you can slide two fingers under the bandage. To prevent slipping, wrap 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:
To ensure a faster healing process for your dog's cut paw pad, protect it until fully healed. Ensure your dog remains calm by preventing him from running or chewing at the bandage; you may need to use an Elizabethan collar for this purpose. Even when the pad is no longer painful to touch, it will remain tender and susceptible to further injury. Avoid engaging in activities that could harm the healing pad, or consider using a bootie to shield the foot. The healing time will vary depending on the size of the cut.
Burnt Paw Pads:
If your dog comes into contact with a chemical substance, immediately immerse the paw in running water for several minutes. Subsequently, wash the paw using mild soap (Exercise caution with scented soaps to prevent wound irritation.) Thoroughly rinse the paw, and make sure to wear gloves to avoid skin irritation.
Additionally, burns from heat can occur naturally when your dog has been outside on extremely hot days. If you observe your dog licking their paws, consider running cold water over them to alleviate the burn and provide relief.
Should I Let My Dog Lick His Cut Paw?
Controlling whether your dog licks its wounds can pose challenges, but it's crucial to prevent licking to avoid introducing unwanted germs into the wound. However, allowing your dog to lick its "non-serious" wound gently may be acceptable, as it can help remove any debris still lodged in the wound.
When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?
Take your dog to the vet for various reasons. If you observe any of these signs, promptly reach out to us.
- Excessive or uncontrolled bleeding
- Deep lacerations that require sutures
- Large or deeply embedded foreign objects that may need surgical removal
- If there is discolored or foul-smelling discharge
- Chemical burns/ Severe burns