While the pads of your dog's paws are much tougher than the bottoms of your feet, they can still suffer from cuts and other injuries. Our Fairfield, NJ vets and team explain what you should do if your dog has a cut paw pad.
Your Dog's Paws
Nature created the pads on your dog's feet to protect the inner workings of your dog's foot. If your dog sustains an injury to one of its footpads, you must treat the injury as soon as possible. Here are a few things you can do to aid in the healing of your dog's foot.
What To Do If My Dog Has a Cut on His Paw Pad
Although your dog's footpads are thick and rubbery, they can be damaged by painful cuts, tears, burns, or puncture wounds. Here's what you can do to help if your dog's paw pad is injured.
Contact Your Vet
Your dog's feet play an important role in your pet's daily life and must be in good condition to keep your pet fit and happy. If your dog's paw pad has been cut or torn, notify your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you whether an examination is necessary or if a trip to the emergency animal hospital is required. Your veterinary team may also be able to give you important advice on how to care for your dog's foot until you can get to the office.
Take a Close Look At the Injured Pad
Examine your dog's pad carefully for signs of anything stuck in your dog's foot, such as a piece of glass or a thorn, as well as any debris, grass, or gravel that may be lodged in the wound. Clean tweezers can be used to gently remove loosely embedded debris.
If your dog has a large piece of glass or other foreign object lodged in their foot, contact your nearest emergency vet immediately for advice on what to do to keep your dog as comfortable as possible while transporting them to the emergency vet.
Clean The Cut
Add a good amount of soapy warm water to a bowl or bucket and swish your pup's foot around to clean the wound and help dislodge any remaining debris. Rinse with clear water.
You could also use a hose to gently spray the foot with clean water to remove debris and clean your dog's paw. To help kill bacteria, squirt a small amount of liquid hand soap or dish soap onto your dog's paw while rinsing.
Another good way to clean a cut on your dog's pad is to rinse the wound is with an antiseptic such as diluted chlorhexidine solution.
Control The Bleeding
Apply pressure to the paw pad with a clean piece of cloth or towel once you've removed any foreign objects that could aggravate the cut. A cold compress can help to slow the bleeding by constricting the blood vessels in some cases. Shallow grazes may not bleed at all, but deep cuts may take some time to heal.
Assess The Severity of the Injury
Minor cuts and scrapes on your dog's paw pad cut can often be managed at home but for deeper cuts, you will need to seek veterinary care for your pooch.
If your dog's cut is ragged, deep, or has debris lodged in it, take him to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Serious cuts will be cleaned and dressed by your veterinarian, and in some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed to help fight infection.
Use non-stick sterile gauze pads to cushion the bottom of your dog's cut paw pad and to absorb any blood. This should also help to decrease your dog's pain when walking on the foot.
Wrap your pup's entire foot in a self-sticking bandage, such as Vetwrap or Well & Good, to help keep the gauze in place. These wraps are available at most well-stocked pet supply stores, and some brands are even coated in bitter flavoring to deter your dog from chewing on the bandage.
Wrapping your dog's feet from toes to ankle will keep the bandage from slipping down and the toes from swelling. Remember that while the bandage should be snug enough to stay in place, it should not be wrapped too tightly. You should be able to fit two fingers between the bandage and your dog's skin.
If bleeding does not slow and stops once the gauze and bandage have been applied it's time to head to the vet for care.
Many clients ask us if they should let their dog lick his cut paw. While some licking can help to kill bacteria on the injury site, excessive licking can lead to wound reopening and infection. You should not let your dog lick his cut paw. Bandaging can help to prevent licking at the site, but some dogs become so preoccupied with licking the wound that an Elizabethan collar or another device may be necessary for your dog as their cut paw pad heals.
It will be critical to keep the bandages clean and dry as your dog's wound heals. This can be difficult, but wearing a waterproof bootie or wrapping a plastic bag around your dog's foot and ankle whenever they go outside can help keep the cut clean and dry.
You should change your dog's bandage daily to avoid infection and to allow you to examine the wound to ensure that it is healing properly. If you notice any signs of swelling, excessive redness, discharge, odor, or increasing pain, take your pet to the veterinarian right away.
After removing the old bandage, gently clean the foot with warm soapy water and thoroughly dry it before applying the new bandage.
Taking your pet to the vet at the first sign of infection will help to keep the wound from becoming more severe and painful. Your veterinarian will be able to thoroughly clean your dog's cut paw pad, as well as prescribe antibiotics to fight infection and pain relievers to help your dog cope with the pain of a cut paw.
The above first aid measures are not a substitute for proper veterinary care. When it comes to your pet's health, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If your dog's wound is severe, or if you are unsure whether your dog's injury is severe, take him to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to treat your dog and advise you on how to care for your dog's wound as it heals.
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.