A dog’s paws serve a number of critical functions during everyday life. Besides providing a foundation for standing, walking, and running, your dog’s feet act as shock absorbers, protect against cold and hot temperatures, and indicate health issues that may be otherwise unnoticeable.
Because paws are essential to your dog’s health, it’s important to recognize when your dog’s feet are injured. One such injury to be aware of is a foot pad injury, a type of wound that affects your dog’s foot pads.
If you’re wondering whether your dog has a foot pad injury, you have come to the right place. Here, we’ll explain the symptoms of foot pad injuries in dogs and treatment options to consider.
Foot Pad Injuries
Foot pad injuries in dogs come in a range of forms, including abrasions, blisters, burns, ulcers, tears, punctures, and lacerations. These paw pad injuries are most commonly caused by the surface your dog walks on. Sharp objects such as glass can puncture your dog’s soft foot pad, while hot surfaces such as concrete can burn through your dog’s feet. Additionally, your dog’s paws can be affected by rock, gravel, sand, as well as chemicals.
Although a dog’s paws are tough, they are not indestructible. Dogs can quickly injure their foot pads if they step on a sharp object or walk on a hot surface. If you notice a paw pad injury in your dog, contact your vet immediately to begin treatment.
What are Foot Pads?
Foot pads, located at the bottom of your dog’s feet, are crucial for a dog’s everyday life. Not only do they provide balance and traction, but they regulate the body temperature through sweating and provide shock absorption during walking, running, and jumping.
A dog’s foot is equipped with three types of paw pads: the digital pad, the carpal pad, and the metatarsal pad. Digital pads are the four small pads located on each toe. Their main purpose is to support your dog’s weight and protect the joints. Carpal pads, located on the forelimb, are similar to digital pads and help support your dog’s weight. Metatarsal pads, located in the center of the foot, are heart-shaped pads that support the dog’s body during activities. This pad is known as the metacarpal pad or palmar pad in the front feet, and the metatarsal or plantar pad in the back feet.
Each type of paw pad on your dog’s foot is made of fat, connective tissue, and thick skin. Paw pads on dogs are soft yet tough, allowing them to act as a cushion for your dog’s feet.
Symptoms of Foot Pad Injuries in Dogs
Because every dog is different, not all foot pad injuries are easy to diagnose. Though the common clinical signs of foot pad injuries are limping, licking at the foot, and bleeding, some paw pad injury symptoms are a bit harder to identify. Listed below are the most common symptoms of paw pad injuries to look for in dogs.
- Excessive licking at the foot.
- Bleeding at the foot.
- Lack of interest in daily activities.
- Excessive panting.
If your dog shows signs of any one of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. The sooner an injured foot pad is treated, the sooner your dog can begin to recover.
Home Care Suggestions
While visiting a vet is recommended for most foot pad injuries, you may treat mild foot abrasions at home. To treat a foot pad injury, first rinse the affected foot under cool water to remove debris. Next, apply an antibacterial ointment or solution, like Neosporin, on the wound. Finally, place a non-stick telfa pad over the foot pad(s) and lightly wrap with vet wrap or an ace bandage. The bandage should be kept clean and changed daily until the pads have healed.
After treating a paw pad injury at home, owners should keep a close eye on their dog’s paw pad. If the toes become swollen or have a strange odor, contact your vet immediately. Because infection can cause significant damage to the foot as well as your dog’s overall health, it’s important to consult your vet if you notice any issues occurring in your dog’s paw pads.
How to Avoid Foot Pad Injuries in Dogs
Because prevention is the best possible cure for foot pad injuries, there are a number of precautions to take when walking your dog. Although some foot pad injuries cannot be prevented, most paw issues can be eliminated by avoiding rough or hot surfaces and providing your dog with protective footwear.
Avoid Rough or Hot Surfaces
One way to prevent paw injuries in dogs is to avoid walking your dog on rough or hot surfaces. Because a dog’s paws are sensitive, they can easily be damaged by jagged or blistering surfaces. Before taking your dog for a walk, ensure the surface is not too hot and doesn’t contain any sharp objects such as glass. Avoid walking on concrete during scorching temperatures and be extra careful when walking your dog on gravel or sand.
In addition to avoiding hot sidewalks during the summer, you’ll want to avoid walking your dog on cold surfaces during the winter. A dog’s paws are just as sensitive to cold temperatures as they are to hot conditions.
Another preventative of paw injuries is protecting your dog’s feet with footwear. Dog boots are ideal for protecting dog paw pads during the winter, while wax and balm can be used to protect a dog’s feet during the summer.
Protective footwear should be worn anytime your dog is walking on sharp objects, hot or cold surfaces, or in locations where salt has been spread to melt the winter ice. In addition to protecting your dog’s paw pads, dog footwear will provide additional support and cushioning for your pup.
When Foot Pad Injuries Require the Vet
Because foot pads do not heal like regular skin, anything more serious than a superficial abrasion should be treated by your veterinarian. Even after treating an abrasion at home, you may still want to visit a vet to ensure there is no infection.
We hope this article answered all your questions on foot pad injuries in dogs. Remember, by keeping your dog’s feet healthy, you can improve your pup’s overall health and quality of life.