Most pet parents are not aware of the dangers to a dog's pads and feet. Considering they use their pads all the time to run, walk and romp, pad injury is very common. This is why we must monitor where our dogs run and play to protect their paws from dangerous elements . . .
Dog feet and pad care is extremely important to the health of your dog. This is one area of our dogs ignored though are the most susceptible to injury. I had read an article on a dog that had blood all over its body, head, ears, mouth, legs and fur. The owners had no idea where the injury was and thought the bleeding would stop on its own. After examination of the dog it was discovered that there was a deep injury on the pad of the dog. Any injury where a blood vessel is cut, such as the deep injury on this dog’s pad, will result in a lot of blood loss. I can’t imagine a pet parent who would not know the extent of an injury such as this.
The dog’s pad is the toughest part of a dog’s body. This thick spongy structure, located under the dog’s foot, absorbs a lot of pressure from running, standing and walking. Because of the location of the pad, injuries are not unusual. They contain many blood vessels and can bleed easily when injured. Sometimes the bleeding of the pad can look a whole lot worse than it actually is. Common injuries can include lacerations, punctures, abrasions, burns, traumatic pad removal or tumors. Some of these injuries, because of the location, can be difficult to heal.
Aside from visible bleeding issues, other symptoms of a sore or injured paw or pad may be limping or favoring that foot, not wanting to put weight on the foot, discoloration of the pad and excess licking of the pad or foot. There can also be chafed pads, dry and cracked, as well as having some type of foreign object in the pad or between the toes.
Treatment all depends upon the identified problem which I will go through specifically. However, be sure to contact your own veterinarian for specific instructions. This information is a guideline for possible use in an emergency when minutes count or if your vet is currently unavailable.
Lacerations, Abrasions and Puncture Wounds - Keep your dog calm. Once you know where the blood is coming from, use a clean towel to apply gentle pressure on the wound and call your veterinarian if the bleeding persists. Don't use a tourniquet. For minor abrasions and puncture wounds, clean the injury with an anti-bacterial wash, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine and wrap with a bandage. You may have to put an Elizabethan collar on your dog for the injury to heal as your pup will have a tendency to lick the area and further irritate the healing process. Since dogs sweat through the pads, the bandage may get moist which causes infection. Frequent bandage changes are vital, usually ever 2 – 3 days. Healing takes a few days. In rare situations an injury can be so severe that the pad may need to be removed. A footpad grafting may be necessary in some situations, especially for larger dogs that do put more pressure on the foot when walking.
Burns and Blisters – Sometimes a dog’s pads can get burnt from walking on hot pavement and through hot sand. The best way to treat this type of injury is to first clean it with anti-bacterial wash and cover with a bandage until healed. If the injury caused some loose skin or ulcerated patch, that skin, along with healing will come off on its own.
Dried and Cracked Pads – Pads that are chafed, dried and cracked are more prone to collect excess dirt and debris, causing further injuries. Care includes finding a good footpad cream. Your veterinarian or nearby pet store can advise what is the best cream treatment. Avoid the use of human moisturizers for obvious reasons that your dog may lick the area. There are claims that some human moisturizers will soften the pad too much as well.
Foreign objects – Most often if you can see something in between the pad or the toes, you can use tweezers to remove the item causing injury and/or pain. Objects may include stones, burrs, pieces of glass, dried mud and even an excess fur ball. Any of these items can cause your dog a lot of pain. Further injuries can prevail. A fur ball would need to be shaved out.
For at home care, clean injured pads with an anti-bacterial wash, iodine or chlorhexidine and prevent your dog from licking the wounds until healed. Of course, more extensive injuries require medical attention. Some injuries may be difficult to prevent. Do your best to keep areas that your dog frequents, such as the back yard, clean and free from any hazardous sharp objects. Keep your dog from going into littered areas. There is no way of knowing the safety of an area as such.