How to Care for a Dog's Torn Paw Pad

By Mary Lougee


Your dog’s paw pads -- the portions of the paws that make contact with the ground -- provide shock absorption as the dog runs and walks. Pads insulate the foot bottoms from extremely cold weather and protect inner tissues in the dog's paws. Pad injuries can bleed extensively due to the large amount of blood vessels they contain. Signs of a torn pad include limping or holding the foot up, excessive licking, discoloration and bleeding. Your initial task is to examine the paw pad and determine whether you need to temporarily disinfect and bandage his foot before taking him to the vet.

Step 1

Hold the torn paw pad in a running stream of lukewarm water for two minutes. This will wash away bacteria from the item that creates the tear. It will also wash blood away so you can examine his paw. If the bleeding does not stop in two minutes or it is bleeding profusely, call your vet immediately for emergency care.

Step 2

Extract any foreign material in the paw pad with tweezers. If the bleeding resumes after the extraction, hold his paw in running water again.

Step 3

Determine the size of the tear. According to the ASPCA, “If a paw pad injury is larger than a half-inch in diameter, see the vet for treatment.” If the tear is smaller than a half-inch and the bleeding stops, proceed with home care. You may still want to take your dog to the vet for a professional inspection.

Step 4

Pour povidone iodine over the tear to disinfect the wound. Squeeze a generous amount of antibiotic ointment onto a sterile cotton swab. Swab the affected area and about a half-inch surrounding the area with the ointment.

Step 5

Center a sterile nonstick gauze pad over the torn paw pad. Place one finger on top of your dog’s paw. Place the loose end of veterinarian wrap on the gauge pad and lightly wrap around your dog’s paw and your finger until the gauze pad has four layers of wrapping covering it. Remove your finger from the bandaging.

Step 6

Cut the excess veterinarian wrap with a pair of angled scissors and smooth the end down onto the bandaging.

Step 7

Change the dressing every two to three days to keep the paw pad clean and prevent infection. Dogs sweat through their paw pads, which makes it hard to keep bandaging dry. If you didn't take the dog in for an exam, call your vet, explain the situation and ask for a schedule to change his bandages.
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