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 Berkeley emergency vets and team explain what you should do if your dog has a cut paw.
Your Dog's Paws
The pads of your dog's feet have been designed by nature to protect the inner workings of your dog's foot. If your dog experiences an injury to one of the pads on their feet it is necessary to care for the injury as quickly as possible. Below are a few things you can do to help your dog's foot heal.
What To Do If My Dog Cut His Paw Pad
Although the pads of your dog's feet are thick and rubbery they can be injured by painful cuts, tears, burns or puncture wounds. If your pooch has an injured paw pad here is what you can do to help.
Contact Your Vet
Your dog's feet play an essential role in your pet's day-to-day life and need to be in tip-top condition to help keep your pet fit and happy. If your pup has cut or has torn their paw pad contact your vet to let them know what has happened. Your vet will be able to let you know whether an examination is required or whether a trip to the emergency animal hospital is necessary. Your veterinary team may also be able to provide you with essential advice on how to care for your pup's foot until you can get to the office.
Take a Close Look At the Injured Pad
Examine your dog's pad closely looking for signs of anything stuck in your dog's foot such as a piece of glass or thorn, as well as any debris, grass or bits of gravel that may be stuck in the wound. Loosely embedded debris can be gently removed with clean tweezers.
If your dog has a large piece of glass or other foreign object lodged in their foot contact your nearest emergency vet straight away for advice on what to do in order to make 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 rinse debris away and clean your dog's paw by gently spraying the foot with clean water using a hose. Add a small squirt of liquid hand soap or dish soap to your dog's paw while rinsing to help kill bacteria.
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
Provided you have managed to remove any foreign objects that could make the cut worse, apply pressure to the paw pad using a clean piece of cloth or towel. In some cases, a cold compress can help to slow the bleeding by constricting the blood vessels. Shallow grazes may not bleed at all but deep cuts can take some time to stop bleeding.
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 it's time to head to your vet or the emergency veterinary hospital nearest you. Serious cuts will be cleaned and dressed by your vet, in some cases your vet may prescribe antibiotics 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.
In order to help keep the gauze in place, wrap your pup's entire foot in a self-sticking bandage such as Vetwrap or Well & Good. These wraps are available at most well-stocked pet supply stores and some brands even come coated in bitter flavoring to discourage your dog from chewing the bandage.
Wrapping your dog's feet from toes to ankle will help to prevent the toes from swelling, and prevent the bandage from slipping down. Keep in mind that while the bandage should be snug enough to stay put, do not wrap it too tightly. You should be able to slip two fingers in between the bandage and your pup's skin.
If bleeding does not slow and stop 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 the 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.
As your dog's wound heals it will be very important to keep the bandages clean and dry. This can be a challenge, but using a waterproof bootie, or securing a plastic bag around your dog's foot and ankle whenever they go out can help to keep the cut clean and dry.
You will want to change your dog's bandage on a daily basis to avoid infection, and in order to give you an opportunity to examine the wound to ensure that it's healing properly. If you notice any sign of swelling, excess redness, discharge, odor or increasing pain, it's time to head to the vet.
After you remove the old bandage it's a good idea to gently clean the foot with warm soapy water, and dry thoroughly before applying the new bandage.
Heading to the vet at the earliest sign of infection will help to prevent the wound from becoming more severe and more painful. Your vet will be able to thoroughly clean your dog's cut paw pad, provide antibiotics to fight infection, and pain meds to help your dog cope with the pain of a cut paw.
The first aid steps above are not a replacement for proper veterinary care. It is always best to err on the side of caution with it comes to your pet's health. If your dog's wound is serious - or if you are unsure whether your dog's injury is serious - head to the vet for care. Your vet will be able to provide your pooch with the treatment they need, and advise you 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.