Why is My Dog’s Paw Bleeding? Causes & How to Stop Bleeding

Swollen dog paw

Whenever your dog has an injury on its paw, you may notice various aspects such as a change in gait and blood on the paw. There are various causes to this issue and how to restore your dog’s health back to normal as shall be discussed in the following sections.

Causes of bleeding paws in dogs

Your dog’s paw may be bleeding due to the following reasons:

1. Canine nail problems

When the nail beds and the nails themselves are affected, the dog may lick or scratch them to cause bleeding paws. For instance, ingrown nails are likely to become infected and will thus lead to licking and scratching which can lead to bleeding.

Dogs have toenails which have a blood vessel immediately above them. When an injury reaches this blood vessel, bleeding will be the result.

2. Infections

Bacterial and fungal infections are known to cause redness, inflammation, swelling, itching and other symptoms. When the dog licks or chews on the affected areas, it may lead to bleeding. Wounds, cracks, lick granulomas and others are the likely results of this excessive licking or scratching.

When ticks, mites, fleas and other pests infect your dog, the same symptoms may be observed.

3. Physical trauma

It is not uncommon for dogs to have physical issues such as abrasions, tears and cuts. These can occur during their normal routine activities such as walking or playing. This calls for carefulness when walking your dog as it may step on sharp objects that will cause injuries.

4. Winter dangers

One of the causes of bleeding paws in dogs is winter and cold in general. For example, dogs are likely to get frostbite during winter than any other season. Besides the paws, the genitals, ears, nose and tail of your dog can be affected by the cold in winter.

The frostbite will cause the cracking and burning of the affected areas. When the dog tries to lick the ice off, it may escalate the issue as the ice can be toxic to it.

Any of these causes needs the attention of a vet especially when noticed late.


Once you notice an anomaly in the behavior of your dog such as a change in its gait, you need to carry out a diagnosis of the issue. Diagnosis of an injury is simply the examination of the affected foot for the causative issues. When carrying out this, make sure that you do it carefully given that the dog may react to the pain in undesirable ways.

Among the places to check on the dog’s feet include:

  • Nails: the nails are among the most affected areas on dogs as far as injuries are concerned. They are among the first areas you should check. Examine (with care) the nails, nail beds and the dew claws for any anomalies. If you come across any blood, pus or other issues of the norm, ensure the dog receives the proper treatment. If not treated early enough, the nails become easily infected leading to more issues. At all times, keep the wounded region clean.
  • Paw pads: the paw pads of your dog are made of a tough rubbery material which cushions the foot. This material often gets worn out due to running on hard surfaces and injuries and should be the first place to look for injuries. Friction and lacerations may expose the inner soft layer of the paw which is painful when touched.
  • The crevices: between the pads and the toes are delicate regions which need proper examination for injuries, pests, and infections. Make sure you check for these regions frequently to know what is normal and what is not.

Once you or (preferably) the vet has done the diagnosis, the treatment process should begin.

Symptoms of paw injuries

The dog’s bottom part of its foot is made up of a rubbery sole meant to provide protection against shock, heat, cold and just about anything else. However, objects may injure the paw when they get between the toes and are sharp enough to puncture the soles of the feet. If the injury reaches the blood vessels, the dog will have bloody paws.

When this occurs, the dog will have injuries whose symptoms include:

1. Swelling and bleeding

The feet may swell at various areas depending on the extent of the injury and the underlying conditions. For example, the swelling can be due to the infection of the foot, accumulation of fluids, or even inflammation on its own. You can take note of a swelling by simply comparing it to the opposite foot.

If the injury involved the puncturing of the foot, the foot of your dog will have blood. Depending on the depth of the puncture, it will range from a little smear of blood to a gush.

2. Dog limping (altered gait)

Due to the pain of the injury, the dog may begin limping or have difficulty maintaining its gait. As such, it will try walking on three legs which will change its natural walking gait. If the injury is severe, it could have affected the structure of the foot leading to a new gait. When the pain becomes too much to bear, the dog will refuse to walk.

3. Inflammation or raw pads

The foot of the dog may also become inflamed and will thus have a raw color.

4. Change in color

With the foot injury, there is bound to be a change in color. When inflamed, the paw area will have a flesh color which is pinkish to flesh. When it is infected, the paw will turn black or white in color.

5. Blisters

Blisters form especially when the injury does not involve the piercing of the skin such as burns or knocks. Blisters will also form due to a disease.

6. Loose skin on the paws

You can see loose skin on the paw pads of your dog’s foot if the injury cut into the skin or it is infected and causing the skin to peel or fall off.

7. Licking or chewing

The dog will lick or chew on the injured area to soothe away the pain or scratch it when it becomes itchy. The itchiness can be a result of the wound becoming infected and thus the need to have it checked as soon as possible. It may also be a sign of hormonal imbalances, allergies or arthritis.

8. Bad smell from the foot

A bad smell from the foot can be a sign of infection. You should have it checked by the vet.

9. Cracked nails and damaged webbing

The nails on the paw may also crack due to the injury.

The webbing between the toes needs to be intact in a normal dog. When it is torn or damaged in any way, it is a sign that the dog has been injured. It could also point to a broken toe or fractured digit.

10. Nail bed damage

The nail bed (the area connecting the nail to the skin) may show damage as a sign of injury. This area is often very painful.

11. Punctures and lacerations

When you see punctures and lacerations on the paw of your dog, you should exam it as it means the dog was injured.

12. Foreign objects in the paw

At times, sharp items may puncture the paw and stick there. Also, the paw may have an ulcer that has objects sticking in it.

13. Discharge of pus

Keep an eye on the formation of pus in the foot of the dog as it shows that an injury occurred a while back and needs treatment.

Noticing any of these symptoms requires that you seek treatment for the injury to the dog’s paw. Most minor injuries will often heal on themselves but the advice here is always to treat any injury your dog has.

Types of paw injuries

The various types of paw injuries include:

  • Abrasions: these are injuries whereby the skin in a given area is worn away or scraped. In most cases, the result of this kind of injury is an inflammation of the affected area.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite is an injury caused by exposure to extreme cold. It affects the toes and nose of the dog in most cases.
  • Infection: if the injury is not disinfected, treated and covered up properly, it may become infected with bacteria given that the foot comes in contact with the ground which has many microorganisms which could infect the foot.
  • Laceration: a laceration is a tearing or cutting in the skin of the affected area. When your dog has a laceration on its foot, always ensure to check inside it as foreign objects can lodge themselves in the opening leading to infections and other issues.
  • Burns: chemicals or heat may lead to burns on the foot of your dog.
  • Allergic reactions: when your dog is allergic to something and it comes into contact with it, it may exhibit various symptoms among them swelling, inflammation and itchy feet.

These types of injuries to the paw do not exist in their pure states. For example, if the dog steps on a hot and sharp object, the injury will exhibit the traits of a burn and laceration.

How to stop bleeding

The method you will use to stop the bleeding will depend on the type of injury. For example, if the dog has just had a cut and fresh blood is flowing out, you can stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the opening. However, if the cut is a severe one, you should let the vet take care of that.

Other treatment options

After stopping the bleeding, it is advisable to clean it with an antiseptic and remove any foreign objects before patching it up. You can remove the foreign objects using tweezers.

At all times, be careful when dealing with pain in the dog. The vet may even need to sedate the dog before treating the injury. Also, surgery may be required depending on the severity of the injury. The blood vessels may cauterized to stop the bleeding if they were opened by the injury.

The vet may also apply a splint to reduce pressure on it and to allow quick healing.

For cuts, burns and abrasions, the process begins by cleaning the affected area then proper examination is done to determine the next procedure. If the affected area has foreign objects and flaps of loose skin, they are to be removed to allow for proper treatment and healing.

Medications are also applied to the affected area to encourage quick healing. They include silver sulfadiazine cream, neomycin-bacitracin-polymixin (Neosporin) cream or a Acemannan-containing hydrogel cream.

If the cause of the injury is an allergy, infection, pest or others, the root cause of the issue will need to be addressed first. Also, the ingrown nails will have to be removed to allow for proper regrowth and treatment. The dew claw is the most likely culprit for ingrown nails in dogs.

First Aid for Paw Pad Injuries in Dogs

The first thing you should do when you see your dog bleeding is to stop the bleeding. You can either apply pressure on the injury if it’s a fresh cut or treat the affected area for an old wound. Once the bleeding has stopped or reduced, clean the affected area with a disinfectant and cover it up with a bandage to stop the entry of germs.

Also, find ways of reducing pain on the foot such as the application of ice or clean cold water over the area.

Immediately your dog has the injury, the pain may be so much that handling it may be hazardous. As such, if the vet can be found, stop the bleeding and let the vet handle the rest of the case.

Home remedies to soothe cracked and bleeding paws

Once the vet has dealt with the dog and treated the injury, you need to take care of the dog at home in specific ways to ensure it heals properly. Among the aspects to put into practice are:

  • Apply a moisturizer to the paws of the dog to keep dryness at bay. You should go for a moisturizer that is meant specifically for canines as it is a different formulation from what you use.
  • Application of ice packs to the affected area will soothe the pain and freeze the blood thus stopping the bleeding.
  • Apply pressure to the cut to allow the blood to clot and cease flowing out. Apply just enough pressure to stop the bleeding followed by fast aid procedures. Too much pressure on the wound will hurt your dog instead.
  • Keep your dog’s nails trimmed at all times. By trimming it does not mean you cut them off like you do to human nails. Your dog needs that for traction. Simply routinely check for the nails that are growing out of shape and size then trim them back to normal size and shape. The dew claw also needs frequent checking as it is prone to outgrowing than the other nails.
  • Routinely check for damage on the paws and pads. Besides that, protect your dog’s feet with boots or paw wax when waking on frozen or hot ground.
  • It should go without saying that dogs, while meant for the wild, should not be allowed to walk in areas with sharp objects such as broken glass sharp rocks or rough pavements. Even their wild cousins such as wolves and foxes keep an eye on the sharp objects.

With these aspects in mind, you should take care of your dog’s bleeding paw whenever it occurs. With the risk of infection high each time your dog gets injured, ensure the vet has taken care of the issue for your dog’s safety.