Dog Paw Care

dog-pawYour 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 and [tag-tec]dog paw care[/tag-tec] should be a part of your regular care routine.

I briefly inspect Zoe and Fritz’s paws each evening as I outlined in an earlier post about getting your puppy used to being handled. It doesn’t take long and is as simple as ensuring nothing is stuck between their toes and their pads are clean and free from mud and dirt.

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: these include bleeding, limping, holding the injured paw off the ground, discoloration of the pad (difficult to see if the paws have a very dark pigmentation) and 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 you touching him. Putting a muzzle on your dog is a good way to protect yourself from a bite.

Treating abrasions, lacerations and punctures: the footpads 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 ([tag]chlorhexidine[/tag] 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 vet.

With deep paw lacerations, I’d recommend you 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 – when this happens it’s likely that the cut will open up again.

Burns and blisters: your dog’s pads can easily burn and blister as a result of walking on a hot pavement or through hot sand.

If you look at your dog’s pad there will either be a loose flap of the pad itself, or this will have becopme detached leaving a red, ulcerated patch.

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: you 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 moisturised using a special footpad cream.

Try to avoid using human hand moisturiser as this tends to soften the pads to much and makes them prone to injury.

Foreign objects between the toes: the most 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 unsure of the cause of the injury, you are not comfortable treating the injury yourself, the wound does not appear to be healing, or if your dog’s paw becomes swollen.

Your vet will either recommend further treatment you can carry out at home or suggest you visit the clinic.

Prevention: sometimes accidents will happen, but to reduce the risk of a footpad injury keep your home and yard clear of sharp objects, 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 it is, would you be happy walking barefoot on that ground? If not, don’t make your dog walk on it.

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  1. I just wanted to say how grateful I was for this website. This is our first time being dog owners and our english bulldog is 1yr and we went on a walk in the forest preserves—it was way to much for our dog and he began to have heat stroke and his paws were raw from walking on the concrete. So, I hurried home to get on the computer to see if there was anything I could do before spending a fortune at the vet. And lucky me there was and I hope everything will turn out ok for our dog and we learned no more long walks and let the dog walk on the grass.

    thank you so much
    Meatball’s Mommy

  2. Tooney's Mom says:

    Thanks for the help on paw care…. it helps to know where to strt out! It looks like our little girl scrapped her paw pad and we applied ointment and a light bandage… hoping the best comes out!!

  3. Thank you so much for all the info, We took my Angel for a hike she started to slow down ,we realized that she was in pain when she walked. When we got to the car her paws were kind of raw/soft.Thanks again for you suggestion on care.

  4. I have had to use an elizabethan collar on a few occasions. Boy do our girls hate it. It takes days before they stop walking in to the furniture, and the stairs are a nightmare. They get stuck half way up!

  5. We have been recommending the use of “Bag Balm” especially in the winter. Although it was originally developed for use on cow’s udders, a number of pet industry professionals have found that it works nicely to prevent cracked paw pads, freezing from snow & ice, and abrasion from road salt.

    We rub it onto and in between their paws when we take them out and when we are training dogs. I’ve also used it on my hands.

    Just for the record. We are Dog Trainers and Pet Sitters having nothing to do with the company that makes it.

  6. thankyou, this is really helpful. i was getting really worried about it because it seemed to be getting worse, but after reading this ive identified the problem and managed to choose the best course of action
    really helpful.

  7. I love this site. my dog has small cuts on all four paws and it kinda freaked me out and thanks to this site I knew what to do.

  8. my dog cut his paw on some metal when he was out walkin.
    his pad was hanging off
    thnx for this website

  9. Just wanted to say thanks for your website and advice my Greyhound was being really silly and decided to jump up on the stove when one of the rings were hot and he burnt his paw on the pad and i noticed he hurt himself when he came limping into the living area looking very sorry for himself, got very concerned when it started weeping and very tender. I applied cold compress to it but it didn’t do much help but luckily i found your website and will do all i can with the advice. thanks very much.

    Take care

  10. Shelley Meacham says:

    Thanks for the burn segment – my 1 year old puppy stepped in fire not once, but twice in the same night!! He backed into it the second time – you’d have thought he could feel the heat on the backside first.

  11. Thank you for this article! It has been more help then I could say!

    Our dear pup plays hard in the dirt and managed to tear up one of his paws.

    I’ll be keeping him in this weekend, all bandaged up, and hope for the best!

  12. My dog just had surgery about 1 week ago on her paw the vet removed of toe, and i’m waiting for the results!! i did some research on the web and i found bad news about it, it could be some type of cancer and very scare because it could spread to her lugs or system. could anyone tell if they having the same problems.

    thank you.

  13. My 4 year old rottie has had the raw pink spots on her paws twice now and recently its back. The first two time the vet put her on antibiotic and steroids and it took about a week both times for them to heal, the vet call it chemical burns. After the second round of sore feet and meds she tore her ACL and had surgery, so didn’t see to much soreness on the paws, now that she is getting around more with out the Elizabeth collar I notice her licking and biting at her feet and the sores are back and her feet are dry and it seems like the pads are peeling off at the hair line , it’s driving both of us crazy. I have tried the washing the feet, putting cream on them and bandages, it seems never ending. Has anyone had this problem this often? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  14. Elyse Horvath says:

    We use Sweet Pea’s TenderPaws on our dog’s paw pads, and they have never been healthier. It’s all natural, absorbs quickly, and has anti-bacterials to help with the bits that get caught in there.

  15. To Cyndi –

    Try Calendula Ointment from the health food store for the paws.

    Also make sure your dog is on a good non allergenic food formula like Solid Gold or Natural Balance LID or some similar product.

    Giving acidophilus (the refridgerated kind – non soy) daily would be a good idea too.

    A general topical tonic for any kind of rash, skin/ear irritations, or inflamation is equal parts of: aloe juice, apple cider vinegar non filtered, water, brewed and cooled chamomile tea.

  16. After walking my 1 year old Giant Schnauzer daily in Cook County Forest Preserves I noticed a red blister on his paw. Thanks, your website is very informative and I will adhere to to the advice you provided. Again, thank you very much!!!!!

  17. My labradoodle 6 month year old puppy Barney has had to have his pad on his paw cut off by the vet due to it being half ripped off. The pink fleshy paw has to be bathed in salty water after each walk and he must wear the sock until the new pad grows back. (3 to 4 weeks)
    The vet has given him a plastic type dog sock with velcro fasteners.
    Barney doesnt have to wear the sock inside our house.
    The sock is great idea!

  18. Yes, checking the paws of our dog should be always inspected as part of our over all caring practice to our pets. Nice blog!

  19. thank you for this website now we know that are dogs foot is cracked and we need to treat it. 🙂

  20. devora leah says:

    shalom, i want to thank you for this advice about dog paws.
    my 10 month old vizsla mix just cut her paw pad & is very forlorn. she’s not complaining but is probably in pain.
    even before this , her paws were constantly looking like they were worn down to a pinkish, smooth layer & i didnt know how to help her besides for applying aloe vera.
    so thanks again for your help!

  21. Many thanks. Our standard poodle cut her paw yesterday. We put a small sock on it and it seems to have stopped bleeding this morning. It wasn’t bleeding too much before but the injury had not slowed her down and she was still bounding around the house. Indeed she doesn’t even limp although it looks nasty to me. I think we will see how it is after the weekend and if there is any signs of further bleeding we will take her to the vet. We are bathing it in some salty water – not too strong – a couple of times a day. Thanks for the advice and all the comments.

  22. Thanks so much for the great advice! I’d love to repost this content on my blog for all the dog lovers as it is a topic not too many people are aware of and should be! Please let me know if it’s okay to repost and I’ll be sure to send a backlink to your site as well 🙂 woof!

  23. Thanks for this! Took my lab mix for a six mile hike today and thought she was just very sore. Then I looked at her feet and, poor thing, all her pads are just ripped to shreds. I’ll wash them and put socks on them like others suggested. I hope she doesn’t tear them off. I feel bad!

  24. zeek's dad says:

    thanks for the advice, my little boston terrier likes to explore the forest when we’re out hiking… last week he came out of the underbrush limping. i checked his paw and it had, of all things, a spruce needle sticking out of it!! i couldn’t believe it would be sharp/strong enough to pierce his foot! possibly the soft area between the pads, but the pad itself?!?! anyhow, thanks again, i managed to get it all out and cleaned out, but the healing is real slow going…

  25. KM Sreedharan says:

    Wish to thank you for educating me on pet care.My lab was walking with a torn paw pad.I followed your advice of cleanship and medication.He is okay. Now I make sure that he walks in a clean and soft foot path or lawn,though hard to find in this part of the world
    .Thank you


  1. […] For more information on caring for paw pad injuries, here’s a great blog called Dog Topics, which featured a post on dog paw care. […]

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