If your dog injured their paw pad, the good news is paw pads grow back. The bad news is that it can take a while for dog pads to grow back and the recovery process can be painful. The best way to prevent a paw pad injury is to keep the nails trimmed and carefully inspect the surface your dog is about to walk on.
Much like the soles of our own feet, the pads on our dog’s paws can vary in toughness depending on their lifestyle.
Regardless of their durability, every dog’s pads are susceptible to injury. While it is rarely ever life-threatening, an issue with their paw can be very painful for dogs and should be given immediate attention and care.
What Are Paw Pads
Small but important. Your dog’s paw pads are just a tiny part of its anatomy, but they hold tremendous importance.
Paw pads are a layer of pigmented skin—usually black or pink, depending on the breed—that covers insulating fatty tissue.
They help with balance and stability, as well as providing traction and cushioning. A dog’s pads can be different depending on their lifestyles.
Some pampered pooches might have smoother pads, while dogs who live a more adventurous or outdoorsy lifestyle might have pads that are more worn and calloused. Dogs with softer pads are more likely to have them damaged when walking on rougher terrain.
Just like human feet, dog’s paws need to acclimate to new surfaces. If you’re exposing your dog to a rocky or coarse area, only allow them on the terrain for a little while at first. Give their pads time to adjust to the new surface.
How to Care for Your Dog’s Paw Pads
It is important to check your dog’s pads frequently (as well as between their nails) to make sure nothing has made its home there.
Pebbles, burrs, and even ticks can lodge themselves into those places. Especially fluffier dogs, whose paws tend to have fur in between their pads, need to be inspected regularly to make sure nothing harmful is getting stuck there.
Monitor The Surfaces Your Dog Walks On
On hot and sunny days, be aware of the temperature of the pavement. If it’s too hot for you to stand on barefoot, then it’s too hot for your pup to walk on!
On unusually blistering days, try to walk them on the grass. If it’s too hot to stand on the pavement, it’s probably too hot for them to be outside for an extended period of time.
It’s not just the heat you have to worry about, either. Wintertime can be rough on your dog’s paws, too.
Some places use ice melts and salt treatments to prevent the roads from icing over. These treatments can be irritants to their paws, so it might be a good investment to buy your pup some booties for their winter walks.
Even if the road treatments don’t seem to bother your dog, you should wash or gently wipe their paws after walking on the roads so they don’t lick their paws and ingest any of the treatments, which may contain chemicals that could be toxic.
Spotting a Pad Injury
Injuries can happen at any time. Your dog could damage their paws anywhere from cutting them open on a walk to splitting them during rough play.
Always be aware of their cues and pay attention to reactions that may indicate pain. If your dog starts limping and refusing to walk, or if the skin of their pads is loose, raw, cracked, or bleeding, then it’s a sign that your dog needs medical attention.
Types of Pad Injuries
Like with people, these injuries can be categorized into lacerations, burns (from both heat and chemicals), frostbite, abrasions, infections, or allergic reactions.
The difference between a laceration and an abrasion is that a laceration is a puncture of the skin. An abrasion is a scrape or wearing of the skin.
These can result from your dog stepping on something harmful. Things like sharp stones, broken glass, or loose metal can be very damaging to their paws.
Make sure the areas you’re allowing your dogs to roam around are safe and free of anything that could harm them.
If abrasions or lacerations are left untreated, they can turn into infections and become a double problem.
Paw Pad Injury Treatment
Clean The Wound
Wash the area with warm water and mild antibacterial soap. Use Betadine, an organic iodine that is good for cleaning wounds and preventing bacteria, and/or Vetericyn, a wound spray that keeps the area clean and promotes optimal healing conditions.
Examine their paws to make sure there is nothing lodged in their toes or anywhere in the area of the pads.
Don’t go digging around; just focus on whatever you can clean off the surface. You don’t want to risk further irritating the wound trying to fish stuff out of it. Save that for your vet.
Tend to the Bleeding (if necessary)
Put pressure on the wound after it is clean. If the wound does not stop bleeding after ten to fifteen minutes, then you should bring your dog to the vet for proper medical attention.
If the bleeding slows down, cover the wound with a clean bandage and gauze pads. Cover their whole paw, including their toes and ankle.
Don’t bandage them up too tight, but make sure it is secure enough so it doesn’t fall off. Change the dressings regularly and, if necessary, spray the bandages with an anti-lick spray so your dog doesn’t gnaw them off.
If the anti-lick spray isn’t effective, your dog might need to wear a cone for a little while.
Consult With The Vet
Unfortunately, stitches are not helpful for paw pad injuries. Therefore, lacerations and punctures take longer to heal because the skin cannot be sealed back together.
Burns and frostbite always need professional attention and usually require antibiotics. Paw pad injuries need to heal from the inside out, so they need to be given ample time to do so.
As with an injury, the longer it goes untreated, the more susceptible it is to worsen and cause more issues. Proper and timely wound care is essential.
Preventing a Pad Injury
Regularly inspect your dog from head to toe to spot any injuries or abnormalities. Check their pads frequently, especially if they are exposed to new areas.
Be mindful of where they are walking—don’t just keep your head in your phone on your evening walks. If you wouldn’t walk somewhere barefoot, then your dog shouldn’t, either.
Keep Their Nails Trim
Your dog’s nails help their feet get proper traction and move more fluidly. If their nails are too long or something is ingrown, it can affect how they walk and therefore make them more prone to injury.
Think about how gnarly your feet get when you neglect them. I’m not saying you need to take a pumice stone to your dog’s paws—remember, rougher paws are good for traction — but they can benefit from proper moisturization.
If your dog’s paws get too dry, they are more prone to splitting and cracking, and then you are faced with a whole new set of problems.
So, Will Your Dog’s Pads Grow Back?
Yes. But it takes a while, and you need to be diligent with your care throughout the healing process.
Accidents happen, of course, but preventative care is the best way to deal with injury. Make sure you are focused on your dog and their safety so they do not have to go through any unnecessary discomfort.
Remember, don’t just attempt any at-home treatment without consulting your vet. Even if you have proper knowledge of the procedure, it’s best to keep them up-to-date on everything going on with your dog so that you can ensure the best possible care for them.
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