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What To Do If Your Dog Has a Paw Pad Cut 

dog paw getting bandaged

If you are a dog parent, you will likely face or will face the situation where your canine companion gets a cut on their paw pad. Despite their tough exterior, paw pads are susceptible to injuries, which can be challenging. As a dog parent, knowing how to handle such situations can make a big difference in your pet’s well-being.

At ElleVet, a science-first company dedicated to supporting pet health, we are committed to providing accurate and evidence-based information to pet parents. In this article, we will guide you through understanding the common causes of paw pad cuts, how to inspect them, when to seek professional help, potential treatment methods, and the health risks associated with untreated wounds. 

Our goal is to arm you with the knowledge to provide your furry friend the care they deserve.

What Can Cause Cuts on My Dogs Feet?

  • Natural Hazards: Dogs are adventurous beings and love to explore, making them susceptible to a range of natural hazards. Thorns from bushes, sharp rocks, and even broken glass hidden in the grass can cause unexpected injuries to their paw pads.
  • Activities: Physical activities like running, jumping, and rough play can also lead to cuts and injuries, especially on uneven or hard surfaces. Always ensure the play area is safe for your pet.
  • Weather Conditions: Extreme weather conditions pose yet another risk. Hot pavement during the summer can lead to burns and blisters, whereas ice and snow can cause frostbite and cracks in the winter. Always inspect your pet’s paws during outdoor activities, especially during harsh weather.

Understanding these common causes can help prevent potential injuries and keep your dog’s paws healthy. However, accidents can still occur. So, it’s crucial to know how to inspect your pet’s injury and provide the necessary first aid, which we will cover in the next section.

How Do I Inspect a Paw Injury?

Inspecting your dog’s injured foot is the first step in understanding the extent of the injury and deciding on the next course of action. 

Here’s a detailed guide on how to perform a thorough examination:

Preparation

  • Approach Calmly: Animals can sense stress and tension, so staying calm is important. Approach your dog gently, speaking in a soft and soothing tone.
  • Secure Your Dog: If your dog is in pain, they might resist examination. Depending on the size of your dog, you might want to have them on a raised surface like a table or bed where they feel secure.

Visual Inspection

  • Observe: Start by visually examining the paw from a distance. Look for signs of discomfort, like limping, or if the paw appears to be swollen or discolored.
  • Examine the Paw: With one hand, gently hold the injured paw. Use your other hand to carefully spread the toes apart and examine the paw pad. Be sure to look for any cuts, scrapes, or foreign objects like thorns or shards of glass.
  • Check Each Pad: Dogs have several pads on their paw, so ensure you check each one individually. Don’t forget the large pad in the center of the foot, which can often suffer injuries.

Physical Examination

  • Gentle Touch: With light pressure, run your fingers over the paw pads. Watch your dog’s reaction for any signs of discomfort.
  • Check for Swelling: Compare the injured paw with the other paws. Look for differences in size or warmth, which might indicate inflammation or infection.
  • Examine the Claws: Sometimes, what appears to be a paw pad injury might be a problem with the claw, like a split or broken nail, which can also cause limping.

Dealing With Resistance

  • Treats and Distractions: If your dog is resisting, try using a treat or a favorite toy as a distraction. You can also have someone your dog trusts present during the examination.
  • Break and Try Again: If your dog is too anxious or resisting a lot, take a break. Try again later when your dog is more relaxed.

When performing an examination, your goal is to understand the severity of the wound without causing additional distress or pain to your dog. If the examination becomes too difficult, or if your dog appears to be in significant pain, stop the examination and consult with your vet. It’s essential to put your dog’s comfort and safety first.

When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

A dog’s paw pad cut can range from a superficial scrape to a deep gash. Understanding when it’s time to seek professional help can make a significant difference in your dog’s healing process. 

Here are some circumstances where a vet visit is necessary:

  • The Severity of the Cut: Not all paw pad injuries are the same. If the cut is deep or the bleeding doesn’t stop within a few minutes despite applying pressure, this indicates a more severe injury that warrants a visit to the vet.
  • Foreign Objects: Occasionally, an object like a piece of glass or a sharp stone might become lodged in your dog’s paw pad. If you notice a foreign object that you cannot remove easily and without causing further pain or injury to your pet, you should take your dog to the vet.
  • Signs of Infection: Infection can set in quickly in open wounds. Look out for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, heat, pus, or a foul odor coming from the wound. If your pet starts limping, shows a loss of appetite, or seems lethargic, these might be signs of a systemic infection requiring immediate veterinary attention.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Your dog may be unable to tell you they’re in pain, but there will be signs. If they are excessively licking the paw, limping, whining, or showing aggression when you try to inspect the wound, these are indications that your pet might be in significant discomfort or pain. Don’t hesitate to consult with a vet in these cases.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions: If your dog has any pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or an autoimmune disease, even minor cuts can lead to major problems. Dogs with these health conditions may have slower healing processes and are at a higher risk for infections.
  • Lack of Improvement: If you’ve been treating a paw pad cut at home and there’s no sign of improvement after a couple of days, or if it seems to be getting worse, you should get your dog to the vet.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and well-being of your dog. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A timely vet visit can prevent minor injuries from turning into major health problems and ensure your pet gets back on their paws quickly.

Treatment Methods

Treating your dog’s paw pad cut appropriately is crucial to ensure quick healing and prevent complications. The approach varies based on the severity of the cut, but generally, here are the steps to follow:

Initial Treatment at Home:

  • Cleanse: First, you must cleanse the wound. Use warm water and mild, pet-friendly soap to gently wash away any dirt or debris from the injury. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply Antiseptic: Once cleaned, apply a pet-safe antiseptic to the wound. This helps kill any bacteria present and prevent infection.
  • Bandage: Bandage the wound to keep it clean and prevent your dog from licking it, which can introduce bacteria and delay the healing process. Use a self-adhesive bandage that won’t stick to their fur. Be careful not to wrap it too tight, as this could cut off circulation.
  • Limit Activity: Restrict your dog’s activity level to allow the wound to heal. Avoid walks on rough terrain, and try to keep them from running or jumping excessively.

Professional Treatment:

  • Veterinary Examination: If the wound is severe, a vet examination will be required. The vet may need to conduct further cleaning or remove any foreign objects lodged in the paw pad. 
  • Stitches or Glue: For deep cuts, the vet might have to use stitches or surgical glue to close the wound.
  • Antibiotics: If there’s a risk of infection or if an infection has already set in, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotics.
  • Pain Management: Depending on the severity of the wound, pain management might be necessary. Your vet can recommend appropriate pain relief options.

ElleVet’s Role

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products can be a beneficial addition to your pet’s recovery regime. Calm and Comfort can help your pet stay calm whether laying low at home or during a trip to the vet’s office. For the best effect, Calm and Comfort should be given 1.5-2 hours before a stressful event.

With these treatment steps, your pet will be on the path to recovery in no time. Remember, prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial in preventing any complications or infections from arising due to an open wound on your dog’s paw pad.

How Dangerous Is an Open Wound on My Dog’s Foot?

A paw pad cut might seem minor, but without proper care, it can lead to more serious complications. Here are some health risks associated with untreated or improperly treated open wounds on a dog’s foot:

Infection

Open wounds are susceptible to bacterial infections, which can lead to pus, swelling, redness, and increased pain. Left untreated, the infection can spread, leading to systemic issues that can be much more serious.

Impaired Mobility

A painful paw pad can limit your dog’s mobility. They may resist walking or appear to limp, which over time, can lead to muscle weakness or atrophy.

Behavior Changes

Persistent pain from an untreated wound can lead to changes in behavior. Your pet may become more aggressive or anxious, stop eating, or lose interest in activities they usually enjoy.

Delayed Healing

Without appropriate care, the wound-healing process can be significantly delayed. This prolonged healing time increases the likelihood of complications such as infection or the formation of an abscess.

Chronic Issues

If not addressed timely, an acute wound can become a chronic problem. Chronic wounds take longer to heal, often require more extensive treatment, and can significantly impact your dog’s quality of life.

Understanding these potential risks reinforces the importance of timely and proper care for your dog’s paw pad cuts. Prompt attention to these injuries and professional veterinary care when required can protect your pet’s health and happiness.

Prevention: Protecting Your Dog’s Paws

Prevention is always better than cure. While you can’t always prevent accidents, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of paw pad cuts:

  • Regular Paw Check: Make a habit of checking your dog’s paws after each walk or outdoor activity. Look for signs of injury, foreign objects, or anything unusual.
  • Avoid Hazardous Surfaces: Be mindful of where your dog is walking. Try to avoid areas with broken glass, sharp rocks, or other potential hazards.
  • Paw Protection: Consider using dog booties or paw protectors, especially in extreme weather or harsh terrain. Not only do these offer a layer of protection against cuts and injuries, but they can also shield against hot pavement or icy conditions.
  • Paw Care: Regularly moisturize your dog’s paw pads to prevent dryness and cracking, especially in cold weather.

By taking these preventive steps, you can protect your dog’s paws and ensure they enjoy their explorations worry-free.

Take Care of Those Paws

As a dog parent, seeing your furry friend injured can be stressful. However, understanding how to respond to a paw pad cut can significantly impact the outcome. From knowing how to clean and dress a minor cut to recognizing when it’s time to call the vet, your actions can make a substantial difference in your dog’s recovery process.

At ElleVet, we’re committed to providing the most accurate, reliable, and science-backed information to ensure you’re well-equipped to care for your pets. Remember, our CBD + CBDA products can be an excellent supplement to your pet’s overall health routine, supporting wellness, comfort, and calm. Your pet’s health and comfort are our top priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek professional veterinary advice. You are your dog’s best advocate, and their well-being relies on your care and attention. Happy pet parenting!

Sources:

How Do I Know if My Dog is in Pain? | VCA Animal Hospitals

NASC Guidelines for ElleVet | NASC

What to Do When Your Dog’s Nails Break or Split | WebMD

Cleaning and Disinfecting Pet Supplies | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC

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