What to Do When Your Dog's Paw Pad Is Injured

September 01, 2023

Paw pads are like shoes for a dog: they absorb shock and protect the dog's sensitive paws from heat, cold, and debris. These remarkably tough parts of your dog's body are essential to your dog's health and comfort. But what happens if a paw pad is injured? Here's what to know and what to do.

What to Do When Your Dog's Paw Pad Is Injured

What are paw pads used for?

Though you may not have paid much attention, you likely are familiar with your dog's paw pads: the dark, spongy parts on the bottom of your dog's paws that leave a recognizable "paw print" in mud. Made of fat, tissue, and thick skin, the pads protect your dog's paws and aid in stability. And because the bottoms and the paw pads are rough, they help your dog get traction in all kinds of terrain.

What causes dog paw pads to rip?

Though your dog's paw pads are extremely tough, they can still be injured. They can become itchy because of a minor cut, allergies, or an infection. Or, they can be more severely injured, even ripped--they may, in extreme cases, even become ripped from the paw entirely. But don't panic! With careful attention, paw pads can heal and even grow back.

How do you prevent paw injuries in dogs?

Paw pad injuries are often preventable. Scout out areas where your dog may be playing, and remove things that might injure your dog's pads, including broken glass, debris, or chemicals. Steer your dog away from superheated or cold surfaces, which can injure your dog's pads.

You can also protect your dog from disease and injury with a lifetime wellness plan from your veterinarian. It's simple: you make an interest-free monthly payment, and in return, you gain access to diagnostic tests for your pet and often unlimited office visits. You can choose from a range of plans and coverage. Your dog, and your dog's paw pads, will thank you.

How do I know if my dogs paws are damaged?

You'll likely know quickly if a dog pad injury is plaguing your pet. Here are some signs:

  • Worrying about the pad with excessive licking

  • Reluctance to put weight on the hurt paw

  • Bleeding or leaking

  • Limping

How can I treat my dogs paw injury at home?

Your dog's paw will most likely need attention from a trained veterinarian. However, some less severe injuries can be handled at home. Here is what to do for a cut on dogs paw pad or a torn paw pad:

  1. Clean and remove debris.
    Carefully remove debris like thorns, nails, glass, or rocks from your dog's paw pad.

  2. Rinse the wound with cool, clean water.
    This is especially important if you think your dog's paw pad has been burned.

  3. Apply antibacterial ointment.
    Gently massage an antibacterial ointment into the wound to prevent infection.

  4. Bandage the wound.
    Wrap the wound with a bandage to protect it and prevent bleeding.

  5. Monitor the healing and change the bandage daily.
    The tricky part in treating paw pad injuries is keeping the dog from licking the wound. Dogs instinctively want to tear off bandages and lick wounds, but licking the wound can introduce bacteria and cause a delay in healing or even infection. You may have to use a surgical cone and limit your dog's activity for a while. You might also experiment with boots specially designed to protect healing paws.

The good news is that even with a dog ripped paw pad or a dog paw pad ripped off not bleeding, paw pads can grow back. It just takes time and care.

If your dog's paw pad is hurt and needs expert care, and you're in the Northeast Florida or Orlando area, you can schedule an appointment at one of our clinics. Our knowledgeable veterinarians will dress the wound and work with you to create a plan to heal your dog's paw and prevent similar injuries. Schedule an appointment today.