One of the most painful (and common) conditions that dogs visit the vet for is paw pad injuries in dogs. If your four-legged children can get hurt doing something, they probably will. It happens, especially with active dogs. While a dog foot injury can be quite painful for the pooch, it usually looks worse than it is. Whether it is a broken nail, pad blisters, lacerations, or broken bones, we will be going over the foot injuries that your pup can sustain and what you need to do.
When trimming your pup's nails at home, it can be a little nerve-wracking. When you cut a toenail too short it hurts but it typically does not require a rush to the vets' office. Your dogs' nails have a feature called a quick. You want to be careful to not clip the quick when cutting Fido’s nails but if you do accidentally cut it, it isn't the end of the world. There will be a bit of blood, and it will be tender for a while but he will be fine. We are going to go over what you need to do if this happens.
- Rinse the affected toe.
- If there are any nail fragments or slivers, attempt to clip or remove them.
- Use a coagulant to suppress the bleeding. (They sell special products over the counter but cornstarch, flour or tea leaves work just as well)
- Hold the quick to the coagulant and press lightly for about a minute or until the bleeding ceases.
- You are going to want to apply an antibacterial ointment, like Neosporin.
- Cover with a gauze square.
- Wrap the paw in vet wrap or a secure ace bandage.
As you regularly trim the nail, the quick will recede. If you want to avoid an injury, trim a little bit every day until you get to the desired length.
Toenail injuries can become infected. Keep an eye on your pet and if you believe they might have an infected toenail, bring him to the vets' office. It is rare that this type of injury will need antibiotics but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Paw Pad Injuries:
Paw pad injuries are no fun (especially for your pup!). Blisters, lacerations, tears, punctures, and scrapes are all common. Dogs that are not accustomed to walking on hot asphalt or concrete can get blisters. While not dangerous it can be uncomfortable. If your pet winds up with a paw pad injury (as long as it is not too severe!) it can usually be treated at home.
The best way to avoid pad blisters is to take some preventative measures such as doggie boots. We’re giving you fair warning though- be prepared for your pooch to do a little kicking dance until they get used to them! However, gradually introducing their feet to outdoor surfaces will help build calluses, therefore, eliminating the need for protective footwear in most cases. If your dog has developed a blister(s) on his pad:
- Clean the paw pad. (Do not use peroxide, as it slows the healing process!)
- Apply Neosporin.
- Wrap the paw in vet wrap.
You do not need to pop the blister. This will only cause unnecessary pain to your dog.
Scrapes or abrasions on the paw are not serious and require very little treatment. If Fido has an abrasion on his paw pad:
- Clean the area.
- Apply antibacterial ointment.
This type of injury typically does not need to be wrapped but try to keep your pup from licking or biting at his paw.
Laceration, Puncture, or Tear
This is where it gets a bit difficult to treat your pooch at home. Lacerations, tears, and punctures are generally going to need to be assessed by a veterinarian. They can require stitches and/or antibiotic/pain medicine. If you frequently run, hike, or go camping with your dog, it’s important to keep an eye out for dangerous obstructions. To help your pet in the meantime:
- Once again clean the affected area.
- You can apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Wrap it up.
- Get to the vets' office.
Paw pads do not heal as well as regular skin. If after a day or two the pad injury does not seem to be healing, please see a vet.
Licking, biting, and gnawing at the affected area is absolutely normal but try to discourage your pet from doing so as it may hinder the healing process.
In what we used to call an invisible booboo, there are injuries that can occur to your dogs' feet with no blood or obvious trauma. Unfortunately, these are the more worrisome situations. If you see any symptoms of discomfort or pain such as licking, biting, limping, or refusing to use the limb, it is the safest bet to have it looked at by a professional. You can’t see broken bones or fractures. To keep your pet comfortable until you can get to the office:
- Restrict movement as much as possible. (I know, that is easier said than done!)
- Alternate between applying ice and heat to the tender area.
Again, it is better to be safe than sorry! Please have your dog seen by a veterinarian. Bones that do not heal correctly may cause future issues. Plus, your vet can give Fido good drugs to help him feel better!
Even the friendliest of dogs can and will bite or nip out of fear or pain. If possible have a friend or family member do a ‘safety hold’ on your dog:
- Have your pup stand sideways in front of you. His head should be facing your left and his rump pointing to the right.
- Place your left arm (gently) around the jaw/neck area, lightly pulling his head in toward your shoulder but away from your face. This will prevent both you and the person doing the treatment from being in the dogs ‘bite zone’.
- With your other arm, go underneath the trunk of your dog's body closer to the rump, and hold firmly. You should be stretching the dog's body against your own. The dog should not be able to move very much.
- Make sure you don’t choke him. We are just trying to limit his range of motion to avoid anyone getting bit.
- If doing this on your own, a muzzle is recommended.
- Stock up on treats. Fido deserves a little pampering after all of this!
Dogs give us their unconditional love and expect us to love and care for them in return. They are not able to call up the local hospital for advice. It is our responsibility to get them medical attention when needed.
Most veterinarians are animal lovers and will work with you, financially, to ensure your pet gets the medical treatment they need. Many vet hospitals offer wellness plans, and/or financial aid. Whenever you are in doubt about the seriousness of any injury (big or small), we encourage you to get it checked out.