Caring for a Dog Paw Injury

A dog paw injury might occur at any time, as a dog's paw pads are at risk for injury any time he's on his feet. Injuries to the paw pad or nail can be difficult to treat, because their location makes them vulnerable to infection; dogs are also more apt to lick paw pad injuries, and the pressure of walking and standing can delay their healing time. Here's how you can care for a dog paw injury.

Use First Aid

If your dog suffers a shallow, non-serious wound on the paw pad, you may not need to seek veterinary attention. Deeper, more serious wounds may require veterinary intervention; nail injuries often also require veterinary intervention to remove the injured nail. Perform first aid on an injured paw pad or nail by cleaning the wound with warm water and then wrapping it in gauze.

During this process, you may want to consider muzzling your dog. Pain can make even the mildest dogs lash out aggressively.

Stop the Bleeding

If your dog's paw pad or torn nail is bleeding profusely, use a clean paper towel an apply firm pressure to stop the bleeding. It may take several minutes for the bleeding to stop.

If the bleeding is excessive or uncontrollable, or if the blood spurts from the wound, seek emergency veterinary help at once.

Remove Debris from the Wound

Rinse and flush the injury, preferably under running water from a tap or shower. Flush for at least two whole minutes to rinse away bacteria and debris. If you can't get your dog under a tap, rinse his foot by swishing it back and forth in a bowl of warm water.

Examine your dog's paw carefully for any embedded debris. Look inside the wound and in between the toes. If you can, use tweezers to remove the debris. If the debris doesn't come out easily, seek veterinary treatment.

Disinfect the Wound

Cleaning and disinfecting paw pad injuries greatly reduces the risk of complications from infection. Apply Betadine directly to the wound, and cover a one-inch radius around the wound as well. Allow the Betadine to air dry by holding your dog's paw in the air. Refrain from blowing on or fanning the dog paw injury, as this could recontaminate it.

After the Betadine is dry, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound. Use a generous amount.

Bandage the Foot

Use clean, sterile gauze to wrap the injured foot. Be careful not to touch the wound itself. Wrap the gauze around the foot and ankle in a figure-eight pattern. Wrap the gauze firmly, but not so tightly that it interferes with blood circulation; secure the gauze with tape.

Over the gauze bandage, apply another type of bandage that is more durable, for walking. A self-adhesive Ace bandage will do. Don't wrap too tightly; practice on your own arm first.

Keep the Wound Clean While It Heals

A dog paw injury can take a long time to heal, due to the pressure of walking and standing. Twice each day, remove the bandage to wash and disinfect the wound. Reapply the bandage. An Elizabethan collar might be useful to keep your dog from licking, chewing or biting the dressing.