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What to Do if My Dog Cut His Paw Pad?

Dogs usually don't wear boots or shoes. As a result, their paws are always exposed to the environment and elements, which can sometimes lead to injuries. Our veterinarians in South Wilton have shared some valuable information on how to manage various injuries that your dog may experience, including cuts to their paw pad.

Importance of Caring For Your Dog's Paws

Dogs have three types of paw pads on their feet: the metacarpal pad, the primary pad, and the metatarsal pad, which is located above the foot. These pads serve as shock absorbers when dogs run or jump. They also aid in balancing and protecting the dog's feet from extreme temperatures. Over time, the outer area of the pad will develop calluses, providing additional protection, much like the calluses that develop on our hands and feet.

How might my dog cut or hurt their paw pad?

Dogs usually don't wear shoes, which means they have very little protection on their feet. As a result, it is not uncommon for your dog to injure their paws. Even though their pads will toughen and thicken as they grow, they are still susceptible to injuries caused by sharp objects. Therefore, you should check for broken glass or stones, chemicals in your home or on the street that can cause burns, and heat from hot sidewalks on very hot days that can cause blistering.

Healthy foot pads are crucial for your dog's well-being, so any injuries need attention. If you notice your dog limping or licking their pads, they may be hurting, and it's essential to check their paws. These things can be painful for your dog, so it is vital to recognize signs of a hurt paw pad, learn how to treat it at home and know when to contact a veterinarian near you.

Types of Injuries to Paw Pads

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 South Wilton 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 often get puncture wounds from sticks in the 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 right away and by the time they do, it may be too late.
  • Chemical Burns: Household products, such as cleaners (toilet, drain, metal, oven), fertilizers, cement, bleach, pool chlorinators, and some laundry detergents, can cause chemical burns.
  • Cracks: Paw pads can crack when they dry out, just like human skin. 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: Although dogs have a fat layer in their paw pads to aid in temperature regulation, in extreme cold they can still get frostbite on their paws.

Treating Your Dog's Cut or Hurt Paw Pad

Minor paw injuries can easily be treated at home. You should always monitor the wound for any signs of possible issues or complications. Some steps you can take to care for your dog's hurt or cut paw pad include:

  • Cleaning the wound: It's essential to clean out your dog's wound to avoid long-lasting pain caused by objects getting stuck in their pads. To clean the wound, you should gently pour cool water over the paw and cut, removing any stones, sticks, glass, or other objects that are stuck. You may need to use tweezers to remove smaller pieces of debris, and soap can be used to clean the wound more thoroughly. However, it's important not to forcefully remove any debris, as this can cause further damage. If necessary, seek assistance from our South Wilton vets to safely remove any debris.
  • Control any bleeding: If you notice bleeding from a wound on your dog, it is essential to control the bleeding to determine if veterinary care is required. In case the wound appears to be small or shallow, you need to apply pressure on it until the bleeding stops.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How long does my dog's paw pad take to heal?

If Your Dog Cut Their Paw Pad:

To help your dog's cut paw pad heal quickly, it's important to keep it fully bandaged all the time. Also, make sure that your dog stays calm and doesn't run or chew on the bandage. You may need to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from chewing the bandage. Even after the pad has healed enough that it isn’t painful to touch, it will still be tender and vulnerable to repeat injury. So, it is important to avoid activities that could damage the healing pad. You can also use a bootie to protect your dog's foot. The healing time will vary depending on the size of the cut.

When Paw Pad Burns Happen:

If you think your dog may have stepped into a corrosive or toxic substance, you should run its paw under cool water. 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. Make sure you wear this to avoid any skin irritation.

Burns from heat can also happen naturally when your dog has been outside on very hot days. If you notice your dog licking its paws, you may want to run cold water over them to help the burn and provide some relief.

Should I Let My Dog Lick His Cut Paw?

It is important to prevent your dog from licking their injured paw, even though they may try to do so. When they lick their paws, they can transfer bacteria from their mouth to the wound, which can cause further infection. However, it may be okay to allow your dog to gently lick their "non-serious" wound because they may be able to remove any debris that is still stuck in the wound.

What are some signs that my dog needs veterinary care?

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 objects 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.

If your dog has experienced a serious paw injury, you should contact our South Wilton vets immediately and make an appointment.

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