Dog Paw Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments. How to Clean Paw Pad Injuries

Dog Paw Injuries
Dog Paw Injuries

Dog paw injuries is a common canine problem. Dog’s paws are in constant contact with the ground. This makes them more prone to injuries compared to other parts of their bodies. Here is more on causes of dog paw injury, types, and treatments. Learn more about how to clean dog paw injuries and what to do to prevent them.

Dog Paw Injuries

Dogs are very adventurous animals; going everywhere, climbing places, chasing things, etc. This results in the dog getting injured having Cuts and Bruises on their body parts. If left unnoticed and unattended to they might lead to health problems, lots of pain and discomfort to the dog. Once you notice your dog limping, go ahead and check the entire leg including the dog’s paw for any injuries. Examine the pads and in-between its toes to rule out possible injuries.

Even though dog’s paws are made up of tough and hard parts such as claws, digital pads, carpal pad, and the metacarpal pad. All these are still vulnerable to a wide range of injuries and damage. Below are the commonly injured places on dog’s paws:

Between Toes or Digital Pads

Objects such as small broken glass, metal, pebbles or any other debris might be lodged in between the dog’s pads leading to an injury. Dogs can also get injured when the dog is crossing a fence or bush, it might get hurt in between the digital pads and causing bleeding or Bruises.


Dog’s claws are vital to dogs. They are mostly used for digging or scratching. Such activities lead to cracking or splitting of the nails which expose blood vessels and inner tissue resulting in a lot of pain to the dog.

Metacarpal Pad

While running, jumping and climbing a dog may step on uneven ground or foreign objects (such as stepping on a nail). This may lead to deep cuts on the pad.

Digital Pads or Toes

Although the digital pads are close to the metacarpal pad, they get injured differently.  The digital pads get injured more compared to the metacarpal pads. This is because the digits take most of the body’s weight when the dog is walking. Hence, injuries on the digital pads occur more frequent.  Dog’s toe bones are paramount since they are used in most of the dog’s activities e.g. digging, running, etc.

Causes of Dog Paw Injuries

Dogs like to move about a lot, during their adventures they encounter a lot of foreign objects e.g. rusty metals, cracked or broken glass, etc. Not noting that they might be harmed by this objects they end up stepping on them, thus leading to injuries on the paws. Here some reasons why the dog’s paws get injured.

From Running

Dogs run everywhere; the gardens, in the woods, on the grass, in the park, etc. this increases their risk of getting injured from stepping on harmful objects or even slipping and bruising their pads. After making all these runs, they are bound to get laceration, or something stuck in-between or on their pads.

Burns, Chemicals, Hot Surfaces

Imagine stepping on a hot surface, it would be very painful and will inevitably cause some blisters. Dogs go through the same process they can step on hot surfaces or bad corrosive chemicals without knowledge. This will eventually lead to burns, blisters, and injury on their paws.

Dryness, Allergies

In some cases, the outer environment is not the primary cause of the lesions. Dryness of the pads or allergies is a contributing factor to the dog’s paw problems. Dogs might have an allergic reaction to medicine or food leading to swelling or dryness of the pads. If left untreated cracks can occur leaving the pads vulnerable to infection because of exposed tissues and blood vessels and the dog in pain.

Cold Climates/ winters/ Snow/ Ice

Although dog’s paws are built to withstand a lot of unfavorable conditions. Too much predisposition to the unfavorable situations is what leads it to injury. Centuries ago dogs weren’t domesticated and were used to the harsh climate and conditions. Nowadays they have gotten used to less harsh conditions leaving them vulnerable to harsh climates.

Cold weather, snow or ice may lead to cracked paw pads or bleeding and in some, lameness. Accumulation of ice or snow on the dog’s toes or the cracked paw pads promotes infection.

Irritation from Licking or Chewing

When dogs get irritation on their paws due to infection or allergies, they tend to want to scratch the irritating area. The use of mouth or on a rough surface to scratch may lead to injury and damage on the dog’s paws.

Symptoms of Dog Paw Injuries

Before you visit a vet, it is important to evaluate the symptoms that your dog presents with. This helps you to gauge whether the dog is really injured and if so if the injuries are treatable at home. In some cases, it’s easy to identify the injuries e.g., cuts and bruises.

Cases such as infections and allergies are difficult to identify. You need to carefully examine the paws to pick out any symptoms. Having knowledge of your dog’s paw pad color will help you to determine in case of any problems. If possible, make a record of your dog’s pads color and texture for future references when examining.

Here are common symptoms of dog paw injuries

Limping / Gingerly Stepping

Limping is one of the most noticeable signs that a dog is injured. When you see a dog limp carefully check if there are any injuries. Stuck foreign objects e.g. thorns, a piece of glass, etc. or cuts that might be causing pain resulting to the dogs limping or gingerly stepping.


If your dog’s paws, mostly the pads section, is swollen it’s more likely that your dog is injured. It might be very painful and unconformable for the dog when walking. Swollen paws might come as a result of broken toes, tumors between the toes, punctured wounds, allergies, bites or stings from insects.

Change of Pads Color

Pads color change due to bacterial or yeast infection. This is the reason why I stated above that knowing your dog’s paw pads texture and color is important for future references. It will help you notice the changes. If you notice a change in the color of your dog’s pads, have it checked by a vet. It may be an infection or maybe it’s a natural occurrence. Pads can also change when a puppy is growing into an adult.

Broken Nail

Broken nails mostly result from digging, scratching and climbing. It’s easily noticeable when you check the dog paws. Also, check for cracks on its nails.

Skin Peeling

Skin peeling of the pads is a good indicator of a burn, or bruising. There may be some skin peeling in between the toes. This may be telling of a bacterial or fungal infection.


There are several ways to know your dog is in pain.

  • Awkward resting position
  • Withdrawing
  • Altered breathing
  • Changes in eating
  • Sleeping habits
  • Seeking affection
  • Constant localized grooming or excessive vocalizations

If you see your dog portraying these tendencies, it might be a result of the pain from a paw injury.

NB. Dogs hide their pain from people or other animals because it’s a survival instinct, so it’s better to observe your dog’s characteristics and see if there’s a change.

Constant Localized Grooming

You may see your dog licking or chewing their paws. They will usually do this when trying to make themselves feel better or soothe themselves from pain if injured. If you notice this, seek to find out why they are licking the area.


Bleeding on your dog’s paw may be prey’s blood or the dog may be one bleeding. Gently wash off the blood on its paws and look carefully to see if there are tears or cuts.

Tendon or Soft Tissue Injury

Swollen joints or pain on the dog’s joints is an indicator of soft tissue injury the dog won’t put weight on it because it’s painful. Here are tendon and muscle soft tissues in the dog’s paws:

  • Superficial digital flexor tendon
  • Flexor muscle of the fifth digit
  • Deep digital flexor tendon
  • Interosseous muscle of the fifth digit

Once you notice an injury to the tendons or any soft tissue pain, take the dog to a vet for an x-ray. This will help get a precise and better diagnosis.

NB: It is important to remember that there are those symptoms that you will find no answer for. It is best to visit a vet to get help for your dog. Speculation or making guesses may lead to other health problems for your dog.

Some of the injuries such as cuts, blisters, and cracked nails are easily treatable at home. However, other injuries such as infections need to be checked out by a vet.

Dog Paw Injury Treatment. What to do if Your Dog has a Paw Pad Injury

Once you find out that your dog has a paw injury and that it possible to treat it at home, here’s what to do;

Items needed:

  • First aid kit
  • Tweezers
  • Clean cloth
  • Warm water
  • Thick gloves
  • Antibiotic ointments

How to Treat Dog Paw Injury. Treatment for Burns, Wounds, and Sores.

1.    Wash with clean water

Rinse with clean water and don’t touch the dog’s paw with anything to avoid further damage or touching the foreign object. This step is done to make the next step easier.

2.    Inspect the wound

Inspect the wound and try to estimate its size and depth. Check if there are any foreign objects. If the wound is severe or the foreign object is too deep, it’s advisable to see a vet and avoid further damage to the wound when trying to treat the dog’s injury.

  1. Remember to wear thick gloves to avoid infecting the dog and avoid any sharp objects lodged in the dog paw from cutting you.

3.    Remove any foreign objects

If you spot any foreign objects embedded, use the tweezers to remove it carefully or them. Make sure to recheck if there are any left in or on pads and between the toes.

4.    Stop the bleeding

To halt bleeding use the clean piece of cloth to apply pressure on the wound until the wound stops bleeding. If ten minutes pass by and it’s still bleeding consult a vet.

5.    Clean the wound and Prevent infection

Cleaning the wound should be done in a sterile environment. Be gentle to avoid harming the dog.

How to Clean Dog Paw Injury

What you need:

  • Clean cloth
  • Cotton bud
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Warm water
  • Salt
  • Antibiotic ointments
  1. Most of these substances are found in the first aid kit.


  1. Spray or wash the wound with warm water mixed with salt. Do this gently and thoroughly to make sure remaining foreign objects are all removed.
  2. Allow it to dry.
  3. Take a piece of the cotton bud and apply hydrogen peroxide on it then disinfect the wound. If your dog experiences pain when you touch with a cotton bud try dipping the paw into a bowl with little hydrogen peroxide
  4. After that apply antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin or Ultra Mide to prevent infection to the wound before you dress up the wound.

6.    Bandage to protect the paw pad injury

Dress up the wound with the sterile bandage. If there is still little blood, apply another bandage. The bandage should dress on the dog in a way that it allows the dog to walk well.

Sometimes the dog might resist a little bit because of the pain, so ask someone to help you hold the dog firmly during the process.

Dog Paw Injuries Healing time

After dressing the wound leave the bandage on for 1-2 days before checking it again. Make sure the dog remains indoors in the first two days to prevent more injury wound. You can also remove the bandage from time to time because open-air assists the wound to dry well and quickly. Ensure this is done in a clean indoor environment.

The recovery time for paw injuries mostly depends on the size and depth of the wound. Deeper wounds take from 21 -30 days while light wounds take one to two weeks. The best way is to keep checking on the sore or wound to know when it’s time to let your dog off the bandages and allow him to it explore.

Consequences of Unhealthy or Injured Paws

Unattended dog paw injuries give room for infection to set in. Other body parts may get affected. Consequences such as severe pain, weak bones are common. You may notice withdrawal- your dog may become less affectionate and/or aggressive.

Inactivity and dormancy results in muscle weakness and loss of tone. Inability to walk and lack of comfort due to pain leads to depression and refusal to eat. So it’s better to deal with the issue as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Paw Pad Injuries; Paw care tips

To protect your dog from paw pad injuries you need to take several precautions and safety measures. This gives your dog better chances of avoiding paw injuries.

Things to Avoid or Remove to Protect your Dog from Paw Pad from Injuries

Keep your garden, lawn and indoor house free from sharp objects such as broken glass or rusty containers. Avoid walking your dog on pavements and sand during the summer because there is a lot of heat which might cause sores and burns when your dog walks on hot sidewalks.

In the cold winter weather, ensure your dog is wearing something on its paws when going out in the cold.

Avoid feeding the dog food or giving him medicine that he may be allergic to. Consult a vet in cases of allergies.

What the Dog can wear to Prevent Paw Pad Injuries

In case there is no option but to go out with the dog during cold times, summertime or areas with potential injury threatening objects, the dog can wear these protectors to prevent him from getting hurt.

  • Dog Shoes
  • Peel And Stick Dog Pads
  • Dog Socks
  • Disposable Dog Booties
  • Bandages

Monitoring and Cleaning

Regularly check your dog’s paws to see if there are any cuts or bruises. Check for foreign objects between the toes. Regularly clean the dog’s paws, in-between the toes and check carefully. This not only helps prevent future injuries and infections, it also allows you to respond early to any injuries.

Manicure and Moisturize Your Dog’s Paws

Keep nails trimmed, and the dog’s paws moisturize. The dog’s nail should not be touching the ground when the dog walking or running. This ensures that the nails are not dragged on the floor or caught up by grass or wires.

Moisturizing prevents dog pads from cracking or peeling. Look for paw pad creams. Avoid human creams; they soften the dog’s pads making them even more vulnerable to injury.

Other Options

  1. During cooler times of the day, walk your dog on pavements. This helps toughen the dog’s footpads
  2. You can also use paw wax to prevent paw pads from injury
  3. Use an E-Collar to prevent your dog from turning it head to lick or chew the wounds eventually preventing further damage
  4. Remember regular checkup and first aid when there are cuts and bruises goes a long way in keeping the paws healthy and fit. No injuries make a happy dog.