Dog Paw Injuries
Summertime means hiking, swimming, and oodles of outside time. A fun day with your pup can change quickly with a paw injury. Your dog's paw pads are tough, but a paw injury can occur even on a leisurely stroll.
These pads are like the soles of your shoes. They cushion the foot, act as shock absorbers for bones and joints, insulate the foot from hot and cold, prevent slipping, and help dogs navigate rough terrain.
Because they play such an essential role in our best friend's overall health, footpad injuries need to be treated promptly. If your pet cries out, is limping, or bleeding - you've got a problem. So, what do you do if your dog cuts, tears, punctures, or scrapes their footpads?
First, you need to evaluate the wound to determine how bad the injury is and if it is something you can treat at home or if you need to get your buddy to the vet. If a nail is cracked or torn, but it's not down to the quick (not bleeding), then trim off the torn part of the nail and file it smooth. If the nail is torn past the quick, it's probably not an emergency, but you will want to have your vet look at it because it could become infected.
If the pad is scraped, but not bleeding, clean it with soap and water, dry it, wrap it, and the pad skin will grow back. Check it every day to be sure it's healing well.
If part of the pad is scraped off, pink, jagged, and/or bleeding, then it's a reasonably deep scrape. Rinse it with water, dry it, wrap it in gauze, and head to the vet so he can deep clean it to prevent infection. If the pad is bleeding significantly (pad wounds can bleed a lot) or if there is a puncture wound, wrap it to contain the bleeding and see your veterinarian.
If your dog is limping, but you don't see blood, check their feet for burrs, sticks, gravel, or foxtails and carefully work out the offending object. If, during this inspection, you find your pup's foot is swollen but has no signs of external injuries, you'll need to head to the vet; this could be a sprain or broken bone in their foot. Follow your instincts, even if the injury looks small, but you're not sure - call your vet.
It's always a good idea to check your dog over for cuts, scrapes, burrs, ticks, or swollen areas after a long walk or hike. Get out with Fido and enjoy the summer, just be prepared!
Here is a good list of must-haves for your pet first aid kit.