While the pads on the bottom of your dog's paws are much tougher than the soles of human feet, they can still get cut or injured. Here, our Groton veterinarians explain what you should do if you notice that your dog has a cut paw.
Your Dog's Paws
The pads of your dog's paw have evolved to protect the inner structures of your pup's feet, If your dog experiences an injury to one of the pads on their feet, it will be necessary to care for their cut as quickly as possible. Below, we list a few things you can do to help your dog's paw 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 are critical to their day-to-day life and need to be kept in excellent shape so your pooch can stay happy, comfortable and fit. If your dog has torn their paw or cut themselves on 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
Take a close look at the pads of your dog's feet and search for signs of anything that is tuck in your dog's foot like glass or a thorn as well as any debris that may have gotten stuck in the wound after it was inflicted. 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
Fill a bowl or bucket with soapy water and swish your dog's paw around in order to clean the wound and dislodge remaining debris. Afterward, rinse their paw with clean and 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
If you've managed to remove any foreign objects that may make the cut or other injury worse, apply pressure to the paw pad using a clean piece of cloth or a towel as gently as you can. A cold compress may also help to slow the bleeding by constricting blood vessels in the area around the cut.
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 had debris lodged into it that you can't (or don't think you should) remove, it's time to bring them to your vet or the closest emergency veterinary hospital. 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.
To help keep the gauze in one place, wrap your dog's entire foot in a self-sticking bandage like Vetwrap or Well & Good.These wraps will be available at most pet supply stores and some brands may even be covered in a coating to discourage licking or chewing at 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 becoming infected. 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.
Going to your vet's office at the earliest signs of infection will prevent to wound from becoming more painful or severe. Your vet will be able to thoroughly clean your dog's cut paw pad, give them antibiotics to fight infection and pain medication to help your dog manage their discomfort better.
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.