Every dog loves to take a walk – it’s one of the best bonding sessions you can do with your canine companion. But walking outdoors also exposes their feet to various elements that can lead to dog pad injury.
My pit bull mix got a nasty slash in his front paw last summer and it took forever to heal. I tried keeping it clean and bound with gauze, but eventually had to take him to the veterinarian where they actually stapled (ouch!) the wound closed.
It took weeks of trying to keep the wound covered so he wouldn’t like it. Nothing worked. I tried an Elizabethan Collar, but he had that off faster than Houdini in a dollar store handcuff.
It did heal, eventually, but the event has me watching his paw’s a lot more closely now.
1. Types of dog pad injury
Dog pad injury come in different forms. Here is a list of the common types of dog pad injury:
This happens when a part of the pad is worn out or scraped.
This is a tear or cut in the skin. Note that lacerations can be deeper than they appear and may gather foreign objects that can infect the wound. Clean the wound immediately to avoid infection.
Burns are usually caused by heat like taking your dog for a walk on a very hot day and the pavement is too hot. It can also be caused by chemical reactions.
Damage in the nails or nail beds can be very painful and may cause serious problems. Ingrown nails, if infected, will require regular cleaning so that the infection will not affect your dog’s systems.
An allergic reaction can cause swelling in the paws and itchiness.
Bacterial and fungal infections can cause redness, itching, and swelling
2. Symptoms of dog pad injury
General symptoms such as the following do not necessarily require immediate veterinary care. But if you are unsure, call the vet for advice.
- Inflamed paws
- Loose flaps on paw pads
- Dog’s refusal walk
If you notice any of the following, you should bring your dog to the veterinarian.
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Foreign objects are found in the pad
- Punctures and lacerations
- Limping that lasts for more than a day
- Presence of pus
- Unable to bear weight on the paw
- Blistered or raw paws
- Cracked nails
- Webbing on toes are damaged
- Nail bed is damaged
- Obsessive chewing and licking of paws for more than a day (this can lead to wounds and cracked paws).
3. Treating dog pad injury
Treatment for dog pad injury varies since it will depend on the type of injury that your dog has and the extent of the damage. But here are a few first aid tips that you can do before you visit the vet:
- When you notice the injury, check for signs of debris like glass or foreign objects in the wound and remove them. Most dog owners use tweezers to remove any debris or trapped matter such as small rocks. If your dog does not let you remove the trapped matter and you are unsure of forcing it out, just do your best to wash the wound and then visit the vet. Wash the injured paw with clean water and antibacterial soap.
- Disinfect the wound – Once the paw is clean and dry, soak a cotton ball with betadine diluted in water to disinfect the wound. The diluted betadine will not sting that much so you do not have to struggle with your dog upon applying it to the wound because any pain felt will be tolerable. Let the betadine air dry before wrapping it with gauze.
- When there’s bleeding – Once the wound is cleaned, you have to apply pressure on the paw pad with a clean and absorbent material. If it is a small cut, the bleeding will stop shortly. But if the cut is too deep and the bleeding can’t be controlled, take your dog to the vet immediately.
- When you deal with burns – You can soothe burns by soaking the injured paw on cool running water or you can use an ice pack. If the burn is caused by chemicals then you have to immediately soak the paw in cool water and keep the water running until you see the chemical washing away.
Do not take dog pad injury lightly. The paws are considered as a part that is difficult to heal since your dog uses them all the time. Some injuries may need intensive care and proper cleaning. Your vet will also be able to give you proper and specific instructions on how to treat the injuries as the wounds heal.
4. Preventing chewing and licking for faster healing
The hardest part is keeping the wound dry and clean while it heals. As the wound heals, it can get itchy and your dog will probably want to chew on their paw or lick it for comfort. This will slow down the healing. So once you have the right medication and treatment, make sure that you keep a sharp eye on your dog at all times. However, it is impossible to watch them the whole day so here are some tips to keep your dog from chewing and licking their wound:
- Make sure you wrap the injured paw in bandage or gauze to keep the wound clean and to avoid your dog from licking the wound. Your dog’s teeth can easily penetrate the gauze so you should add a sock on top or additional wrap to make sure that your dog will be unable to lick and chew on the wound.
- Spray some bitter apple on the gauze or wrap. This will leave an awful taste which can discourage your dog from chewing and licking. Note that you should never spray directly on the wound. Most pet stores have this spray. If not, you can ask your vet for replacement suggestions.
- If all things fail, try getting an E-collar. It is a lampshade collar that prevents dogs from turning their heads so they are unable to chew and lick on their wounds. This will be very uncomfortable for your dog at first but they will eventually get used to it in a few hours.
- It helps that you discipline your dog early on. Train your dog to respond to a command that will make your dog stop whatever they’re doing. This type of training will be very helpful in times of injury and healing.
5. Prevention of dog pad injury
- Trim your dog’s nails regularly. This will prevent them from having ingrown toenails plus it helps your dog have proper feet alignment.
- Make it a habit to check your dog’s paws for any sign of damage frequently. Early detection means your dog gets to be treated easily.
- When going out for a walk, check the pavement if it’s too hot or if it’s in the winter, make sure that the surface is not freezing cold. Invest in specialized dog boots to protect their paws or get paw wax for your dog.
- When the weather is dry, you can prevent the pads from cracking by applying a moisturizer. The moisturizer must be specially made for canines. Aside from giving protection, the moisturizer can also help heal cuts, hot spots, and cracked pads.
- Keep an eye out for sharp objects during walks and avoid walking in areas with sharp rocks.
The paws of your dog are very important and as a responsible dog owner, it is necessary that you pay special attention to them and be aware of dog paw pad injury. By knowing what dangers to look out for and how to initially treat dog pad injury, you immediately become a step closer to being the best dog owner there is. Here’s to more safe, fun walks with your canine friends!
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