A dog paw pad injury can come from many types of mishaps. Scrapes, cuts, punctures, blisters, and burns are some of the ways a dog paw pad injury can present. A dog’s paw pad is a unique type of tissue and structure. The paw pad on dogs and cats consists mostly of a thick fatty tissue layer.
The fatty tissue provides insulation from the cold, allowing the dog or cat to walk on cold ground. Barn cats in winter have the ability to walk on ice and not get chilled because the fatty layer along with the increased blood supply in the foot pad helps their feet stay warm. There is plentiful blood supply to the paw pad.
The pads provide protection from ground surfaces and take on the wear and tear from walking and running. The paw pads are sensitive to different ground surfaces, which helps the dog know what type of ground cover is present. Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors will have rougher paw pads. Dogs that work on a farm have more potential for a dog paw pad injury than the household companion, although wounds can happen to both house pets and working dogs.
Cuts or lacerations are common if the dog or cat steps on broken glass, metal, sharp stones, or any other sharp material. The situation requires immediate care, in order to promote full healing. Animals on the farm find all sorts of ways to get injured and some injuries are specialized. Chicken eye problems are one example of another specialized farm animal problem. In the perfect scenario, frequently checking your dog or cat’s paw pads for injuries should take place at least as often as you do the goat hoof trimming! Doing the foot inspection every few weeks, won’t stop an injury from a cut or from happening. It might, however, allow you to prevent a small cut or infection from becoming a bigger problem.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat or Dog Paw Pad Injury
- Unwilling to put any weight on the sore foot
- Discolored foot pad
- Excessive licking of the foot pad
What you may Find on Inspection of the Foot Paw Pad
- A growth or mass on the foot or under the foot pad
- Paw pad is torn off
- Paw pad is badly scraped
- Paw pad is burned from chemicals or hot pavement
- Paw pad has a deep cut
- Paw pad has a mild abrasion
What Should you do for a Dog or Cat Paw Pad Injury
With a dog paw pad injury, first, consider getting veterinarian treatment for the dog or cat. Since the paw pad is a specialized structure, it is important that any wound heals the correct way. Infections and further complications from a dog paw pad injury are well documented.
If you cannot get your pet to the veterinarian, there are some things you can do in the meantime. These procedures are offered as a means to get your dog or cat some relief. If the wound is serious, please consider getting medical advice for the animal.
- Clean the area using antibacterial soap.
- Stop the bleeding using pressure applied to the area.
- Inspect the wound for glass, metal fragments, thorns, burrs and other debris. Removing the objects with tweezers is best. If there are tiny pieces of debris, wash the wound out using a syringe and antiseptic wound care liquid.
- Disinfect the area with a wound or surgical scrub like Betadine.
- Apply an antiseptic wound spray or ointment. We use Vetericyn on our farm for first aid to injuries and infections.
- Bandage the foot and lower leg. Use a non-stick gauze pad and Vet wrap which provides a cohesive bandage. The paw pad sweats so keeping the wound from being damp from sweat is important. The foot pad injury should be allowed to heal from the inside to the outside. This allows the same type of epithelial tissue to regrow on the foot pad.
In some cases, the dog or cat may try to remove the bandage. Some people have success using a bitter apple type of sprays to discourage chewing. Using an Elizabethan-type color may prevent the pet from reaching the foot to chew on it. Discourage chewing and licking while the wound is healing.
Since the animal will be walking on the bandage and putting some pressure on the wound, checking the injury daily will be necessary. Clean and reapply a clean bandage every day. If the wound is seeping or deep you may need to do this procedure more often.
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What to do if the Paw Pad is Removed or Torn Off
Gently clean and examine the foot pad area. This is a serious condition and while it can happen, it should be treated by a veterinarian. In the meantime, clean and dry the area. The foot pad sweats and is part of the animal’s cooling mechanism. The foot pad skin should be allowed to regenerate from the inside out. Use non-stick bandages and vet wrap. In some cases, a vet will need to add a drain to the area while it heals.
Other Types of Dog Foot Injuries
The foot can be injured in other ways besides the pad. Thorns can get in between toes and bruising can occur from running on rocky surfaces. During winter weather ice can accumulate in between the toes of heavily furred dogs. This ice is irritating and painful to the dog. Applying a lubricant like Vaseline will prevent the ice from sticking to the dog’s fur and feet. Tumor growth can occur, infections can start and toenails can be ripped off. For farm dogs especially, some seeds can get lodged in the foot, between toes, under toenails or somewhere else, causing pain and inflammation. All dog and cat foot injuries are not going to involve the paw pad. Gently inspect the sore foot to determine if a veterinarian should be consulted. Take the steps outlined above to begin first aid. Prevent some of these foot problems by keeping the hair trimmed between the toes.
Preventing Dog Paw Pad Injury
Inspecting the ground whenever possible will help avoid some injuries. We are farming an old piece of family land. We still find pieces of broken glass and metal in the fields, from some other caretaker long ago. This debris tends to resurface after rains and seasonally after thawing. In the hot summer weather, keep your dog away from cement and pavement that may be extremely hot. Dog and cat paw pads can burn easily on hot pavement.
Have you treated a paw pad injury with your pets? Tell us your story in the comments.