Your dog’s foot pads: what is their role and what to do in case of injury?

A dog’s foot pads are very important for her well-being. They act like the soles of your feet, allowing your dog to gain a solid footing as she walks. Maintaining foot pad health is essential, all the more so if a pad is wounded.  This article will help you understand the role foot pads serve, as well as give you a few tips on what to do if you notice an injury under your dog’s paw.

Your dog’s foot pads: what do they do ?

Foot pads help to protect the bottom of your dog’s paws. They act as shock-absorbers and insulators, allowing your pet to walk on hard flooring, as well as hot or cold surfaces, without injuring her paws or joints.

Their thickness depends on your pet’s activity level. If your pet appears to be particularly sensitive in this area of the paw, it is very important to monitor any changes, to maintain proper foot pad health and to know what to do in case of injury.

How to treat an injured foot pad?

Here are 4 easy steps to follow if your dog has an injury to a foot pad:

  1.    Evaluate the gravity of the wound. If the injury is minor, you may try caring for it yourself at home. If however the wound is more severe, bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
  2.    Clean with paw with cool water and check for foreign objects that may be embedded in the wound (ex. a rock, a piece of glass, etc.)
  3.    Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide to try to dislodge any foreign material. Apply pressure to help decrease bleeding.
  4.    Once the wound is clean, apply clean gauze and bandage lightly. Avoid cotton pads as these may stick to the wound. Change the bandage every day.

When should you bring your dog to the vet to treat a wounded foot pad?

We highly recommend that you consult with a veterinarian in the following situations:

  • Excessive bleeding ;
  • Deep cuts and wounds to the foot pads ;
  • Your dog has difficulty walking ;
  • Your dog’s foot pads look different or smell bad ;
  • You noticed a foreign object lodged in the wound.

How can you prevent foot pad injuries ?

  • During the summer, avoid long walks on hot surfaces like concrete that could burn your dog’s paws.
  • In the winter, avoid long walks on icy surfaces since these may lead to frostbite.
  • Ask your veterinarian about protecting your dog’s paws using booties.
  • Scan the ground in your preferred walking areas for debris, broken glass, or any other sharp objects that may cut your dog’s pads.

What to do to maintain proper foot pad health?

These easy tips can help you keep your dog’s toes in tip-top shape:

  • Check your dog’s foot pads on a regular basis ;
  • Apply a paw-protecting lotion occasionally to strengthen the skin ;
  • In the summer, moisturize the area to prevent the skin from drying out ;
  • During the winter, clean and rinse the pads after every walk to remove any salt residue that could irritate the skin ;
  • Clean your pet’s feet regularly ;
  • Apply a healing lotion if the skin of the foot pads become cracked.

Good foot pad health will help keep your pet healthy and happy !