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Paw Pad Injury: Types, Symptoms and Causes

dog paw injury

A dog’s paws are very important because they allow your dog to walk and run. They provide balance when jumping and running, too. Paws help in cooling down your dog when it is hot outside. It does so by conducting the sweat away from the skin towards the bottom of the foot. 

 

A dog’s paws provide traction when walking on slippery or unsafe surfaces like ice, rocks, and uneven, rocky/muddy terrain. It allows the footpads to shed water quickly and grip most surfaces well. 

 

Moreover, dogs do not go for walks on asphalt or concrete, unlike you, limiting the paws’ exposure to injury. On the other hand, dogs are constantly subject to cold temperatures and humidity in many parts of the world. All this leads to softening tissues, cracks, and wounds on their paws, which can quickly become infected. 

 

Now, it is crucial to check and treat any dog injured paw. That’s why, in this article, we will list some symptoms and types of paw pad injury. In this way, you can get your pup out of its misery instantly.

Why is it important to take care of dog paws?

There are several reasons to take good care of dogs’ paws:

 

  • Paws provide stability which allows your dog to stand firmly and comfortably on the ground. 

 

  • They serve as a sensory organ providing terrain and temperature awareness.

 

  • Poor paw care can lead to infections or other problems that make your dog sick or at the very least uncomfortable.

 

So, you should keep your dog’s claws trimmed. If anything pokes the dog’s paws, it can hurt the dog and make it not want to walk on the ground or run around so much.

What are the paw injury symptoms?

The more severe a dog’s paw injury is, the more pain it will be in. Although paw pad injuries are pretty standard, it’s sometimes difficult to detect. So, we will go through a list of different symptoms of paw pad injuries.

Licking And Chewing Paws

A foreign object stuck in the paw can cause an injury which leads to pain and irritation. So, your pup may be licking and chewing his paws due to redness, inflammation, or irritation. Another reason could be that your dog is trying to get the object out from its paws, that’s why it is constantly chewing its paws.

Limping

If a dog is limping, he may hold his paw off the ground while walking, allowing him to put less weight on the affected leg. So, if your dog is limping, you should check if there’s anything stuck in his paw that he may have stepped on or run into.

Inflamed Paws

If your dog’s paws are swollen or have become red, it is probably due to an injured paw pad. Red and inflamed paws are often warm or hot to the touch compared with the other paws. So, you can detect any paw injury by checking the temperature of your dog’s paw with your hands.

Lesions And Discharge

Lesions and discharge commonly appear in a pus-like form and often have a terrible smell. Ulcers with scabbing and blisters may appear as wounds that are sensitive to touch, tender when pushed on, and difficult to heal due to the formation of a scab.

 

Moreover, cuts, abrasions, and tears usually have bleeding or oozing from them when they first occur. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is best to take it to the veterinarian for evaluation.

Most common dog paw pad injuries to look out for

The paw pads of our canines contain blood vessels and nerve endings, making them extremely sensitive to injury. So, it’s essential to know what you should be looking out for to tend to your dog if they sustain an injury quickly.

1. Cuts

Cuts are often the most common paw pad problems, especially in dogs that live in high-traffic areas or spend a lot of time playing outside. The cuts can be deep enough to expose sensitive tissues, cartilage, and blood vessels. Symptoms include excess licking, whining, and limping. There will also be bleeding from the injury site. Most cuts are caused by the dog running into or stepping on something sharp.

 

You should try to find out what he ran into so that you can take care of the problem before it happens again. Stepping on something sharp is usually accidental and may not be avoidable in the future. Deep cuts need specialised treatment to thoroughly cleanse them and help avoid infection. We recommend storing a dog first-aid kit at home for emergencies.  

2. Infections

If the skin around a cut or other paw pad injury becomes red, swollen, and tender, it may be an infection of the tissues. It can occur if the wound has been left untreated for too long or doesn’t heal properly. Bacteria can sometimes get into the wound and cause infection, and this can spread to the rest of the foot if it’s not treated.

3. Burns

Any type of heat source that’s hot enough to burn human skin will also hurt a dog’s sensitive paw pads. That’s the reason why dogs should not walk on heated floors. However, dogs don’t sense high temperatures as acutely as we do and can sustain burns without knowing it.

 

So, you should make sure to avoid taking your dog out on scorching days. The reason is that the ground heats up and can cause burns on your dog’s tiny paws.

4. Cracked paws

Dogs crack their paws for a variety of reasons:

 

  • Walking on rough or hot terrain
  • Standing in saltwater
  • Living in icy conditions
  • Aging process.

 

The cracks don’t usually develop into full-blown paw pad injuries. However, the cracked skin is very susceptible to infection, so it needs to be monitored and cared for.

5. Bruising

Paw pad bruising happens when you accidentally stand on your pet’s foot or drop something heavy on it while it’s curled under your feet. So, if you find a slight bruise, watch out for additional injuries that may have co-occurred. It could be anything from a broken toe to an internal injury that isn’t immediately visible on the outside.

6. Frostbite

If you live in a cold climate, your dog can develop frostbite on its paws, especially if they spend time outdoors without any paw protection. An excellent way to prepare yourself is to check your dog’s paw pads throughout winter. 

Also, you must make sure that they’re still pink and full of blood supply (meaning healthy). If skin starts turning black, it has begun dying and must be removed; otherwise, gangrene will set in.

7. Puncture Wound

In this type of wound, there is a small hole in the dog’s paw. Symptoms include whining and excess licking. The puncture will also have some blood around it. This type of injury usually occurs because something sharp pierced through the dog’s paws. So, you should check immediately to make sure that your dog hasn’t stepped on something sharp.

 

If you find nothing, then your dog must have stuck its paw in something while playing, such as a fence, resulting in a puncture wound. This type of injury can also occur if your dog gets bitten by another animal. Puncture wounds may be deep enough to damage the dog’s paw pad. For this reason, your dog should see a veterinarian as soon as possible for proper treatment.

8. Nail Avulsion

It happens when more than half of a dog’s toenail is torn from the nail bed. In addition to bleeding, this could result in pain, swelling of the paw, and limping. To repair nail avulsion, your veterinarian will stitch the pieces back together. However, if there isn’t much tissue left for this, they may need to amputate the nail.

 

Your dog’s nail doesn’t need to be torn to result in a paw pad injury. Instead, an ingrown nail is a common cause of carpal pad dog injury. You can use a dog nail grinder to safely clip off any ingrown nail without hurting any nerves in your puppy’s nails.

9. Crush Wound

When a dog steps or puts weight on its feet, the bones in its feet form an arch. When there is too much pressure for the pad to withstand, the bones collapse and crush.

 

If your dog jumps off of something high onto solid ground, its paw may not be able to support the sudden change in pressure. This causes the dog’s bones to collapse, crushing the nearby tissue and nerves.

 

Crush wounds are very common among dogs who weigh more than 20 pounds. Symptoms include howling and whining, which would indicate that the wound is causing a lot of pain.

10. Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis is a condition in which the paws become extremely inflamed. The cause of this inflammation and swelling is a yeast that lives on the animal’s skin naturally but flourishes due to moisture or open sores on the skin.

It’s extremely painful for the dog, and it makes it difficult for them to walk on their feet. The infection is usually treated with antifungal medication that clears up the lesion. In some cases may require surgery or a recurrence of new lesions are present. However, owners can prevent pododermatitis by keeping their dogs’ paws clean and dry.

Final Thoughts

Dog paws, just like human feet, are susceptible to various wounds, laceration and infections. Always stay on the lookout for any signs of discomfort in your dog’s behaviour and be sure to attend injuries as soon as you spot them to prevent any further escalation. Be sure to clean your pup’s paws daily and establish a grooming routine to keep them in a good condition. You can find more tips on dog paw care that will help you keep your four-legged-friend happy and healthy.

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