Dogs are playful creatures that love to jump, run, and explore any chance they get. Naturally, with all that activity comes to the risk of injury. Just like their humans, dogs can get bumps and scrapes. As your dog wrestles at the dog park or tracks small animals on a trail, they can get small cuts on their paws.
If your dog is injured, don’t fret, small wounds on dogs’ paws can be treated at home with proper wound care. It is essential to learn how to properly wrap your dog’s paw to minimize injury early on, avoid infection, and help your furry friend heal quickly. Knowing how to care for a dog’s wound properly will save costs on unnecessary vet visits and out-of-pocket costs for further injuries from infection.
The Importance of Dog Paws
Your dog’s paw health is a vital part of your dog’s everyday well-being. Dog’s paws play a role in protecting your dog against the elements, regulating their temperature, and providing a cushion against rough terrain when your dog explores the yard.
The pads a dog paw, under each toe, help add a layer of cushion to absorb pressure and shock when your dog is running and jumping. This protects your dog’s bones and joints from injuries like sprains and tears. Dogs who spend a lot of time on rough terrain will have calloused paws as a protective layer, their paws may feel rough and dry, but pet owners should monitor for cracks on your dogs’ paws. Cracks can lead to infection like pododermatitis as well as yeast infection in dogs’ paws, and your vet can prescribe an ointment to soothe and soften their pads. More pampered pooched will have soft, smooth pads which may be more susceptible to heat and rigid ground.
If you have ever wondered how dogs can frolic through the snow or walk through the woods on a frosty day without their paws freezing, you are not alone. Thanks to recent research on the topic, we now know that the arteries in a dog’s paws are close to the veins, so that blood that is cooled through contact with cold surfaces is warmed by close contact to other blood vessels before reentering the returning to the dog’s main system. This system naturally protects the dog’s paws from frostbite and freezing. Still, you can provide an added layer of protection and cuteness by minimizing your dog’s exposure to cold surfaces with the best dog boots or socks in snow, slush, and icy temperatures.
Hot weather can be risky to your dogs’ digital pads too. As a good rule of thumb, reach down and feel the sidewalk or asphalt with your own hand on a hot day. If the surface is too hot for comfort for your own hands, chances are it is not safe for your pet’s paws either. Dog’s paws are designed to protect them from the elements, but blisters and burns can still occur in extreme temperatures. It is best to walk your dog on the cooler points on hot days and avoid direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
Signs of Injury
Regularly monitoring your dog’s paws should be an essential part of your pet care routine. Pampering your pooch will prevent and reduce the negative impact of blisters and burns, swollen feet or toes, hyperkeratosis in dogs, and nail trauma.
Signs that signal an injury:
Excessive licking: While licking is a normal part of your dog’s self-grooming routine, excessive licking or chewing can be a sign of damage to your dog’s paw. Consult your veterinarian if your dog is suddenly licking or chewing at its paws more than normal.
Limping or Avoidance of Pressure: If your dog shows signs of limping or is not putting pressure on a particular leg or paw, this may be a sign of cut on your dog’s paw or the sign that an object has punctured their paw or have a ripped or torn pad.
Your dog may whimper or cry when applying weight to an injured paw. Check your dog’s paws when they are laying down; look for open cuts, missing skin, or cracked pads.
Cracked and Broken Nails: Your dog’s nails help with traction and balance. When your dog’s nails become overgrown, it can lead to cracking, breaking, and even accidental removal. Damage to nails can lead to infection if not treated. Seek medical help from your vet to determine if your dog’s dewclaw and nails are a healthy length and receive pain medication and antibiotics in case of injury.
Cracked Paws and Hyperkeratosis: The pads of your dog’s feet should be smooth, with no cracks or missing skin. While calloused paws are normal, cracks in dog paw can lead to bacterial and fungus growth. Hyperkeratosis is an overproduction of keratin which produces a protective outer layer on paws, like the chemical compound found in human nails. To maintain your pup’s paws, you can wash their paws with warm water after walks and apply a vet-approved paw balm to moisturize dry paws.
Treating and Wrapping Paws
If you have discovered a wound to your dog’s paw, nails, or pads, it is important to assess damage quickly. For severe injuries that involve bleeding, restricted movement, or deep cuts, you should consult a veterinarian to determine the next steps. For minor injuries, like shallow cuts or abrasions, you can treat your pet’s paw at home .
It is wise to take pictures of your dog’s wound right away to track any changes in coloring, swelling, and severity over time. This will help give your vet the best diagnosis of the severity of the injury.
Steps to Treat Paw Wounds
1. Clean the Affected Area. Upon injury, the very first thing you want to do is clean the wound to prevent infection. Wash the affected with warm water and baby soap to remove any dirt. Make sure the water is not too hot; it should be comfortable to your fingers. Wash away any loose debris or dirt.
2. Flush cuts and scrapes with hydrogen peroxide. This should only be done one time at the onset of the injury. Sterilizing your dog’s wound kills all bacteria in the wound—good and bad. Once the wound begins healing, healthy bacteria will help this process along.
3. Check for infection and swelling of your dog’s paw once it is thoroughly cleaned. Signs of infection include:
- Pus or Leakage
- Crying or Whining when weight is applied
- Strong Smell
When preparing to wrap, you’ll need the following materials:
- Gauze Bandage
- Self-Adhesive Bandage Wraps
- Gauze wrap
- Medical Tape
1. Place a piece of gauze directly over the wound and hold it in place. You may need someone to assist you with holding your pet still, so you can apply the bandaging and wraps accurately.
2. Wrap the self-adhesive wrapping starting at the top of the paw. Work your way down to the bottom of the paw and then back up to finish at the top.
Be sure to wrap it one to two times, and do not tighten as your wrap. Bandaging can restrict blood flow and hurt your pet if wrapped too tightly.
3. Next, place a layer of gauze wrap to secure the gauze pad and cotton wrap in place. Be sure that the wrap does not cover the ankle joint, as this can put added pressure on the wound when your dog walks and stretches its ankle joint.
You can apply a little tension as your wrap to keep everything in place, but as with the bandage wrap, make sure to avoid pulling the wrap too tightly. This will cut off circulation and restrict blood flow, which can cause further injury.
4. Finish with a layer of plastic wrap (vet wrap) to create a seal around the inner layers of bandaging. The elastic layer will prevent your dog from chewing through the cotton and gauze pads.
Smooth the elastic down to seal it by running your finger along the outside. This will smooth the elastic and prevent open seams for your dog to get ahold of.
How to Care for Your Dog Bandages
1. Prevent your Dog from Accessing the Wound
Once you have properly adhered to the wrap to your dog’s injury, it is essential to prevent your dog from chewing on the wrap and removing the bandaging.
If you are concerned with your dog chewing at it, when unattended, place a cone around your dog’s head to reduce their ability to chew at it.
2. Keep Bandaging Clean
While your dog is healing, prevent it from getting the wound and bandaging dirty.
Change the wrap daily by cutting old bandaging off carefully with scissors. Monitor the wound for swelling; adjust the tightness and looseness of the wrap as necessary.
Consult your veterinarian as needed to determine how often to change bandaging.
3. Monitor the Injury
Keep tabs on your dog’s healing progression. Monitor their physical activity levels and notice if your dog is beginning to apply weight to the wound or causing discomfort.
Check the wound daily for signs of infection. If new symptoms develop or worsen, consult your veterinarian to determine the next steps. Antibiotics or ointment may be needed to treat the wound.
1. How do I protect my dog’s injured paw?
If your dog injures its paw, clean the affected area with warm water and baby soap. Next, wrap your dog’s paw with a gauze pad, held by a cotton/gauze wrap. Add a top layer of elastic (vet wrap) to prevent your dog from chewing through it.
2. How long should you keep a dog’s paw wrapped?
It would be best if you kept your dog’s paw wrapped until the wound closes all the way. Be sure to change the wrap each day to monitor the wound’s healing, and look for signs of infection.
3. Can I wrap my dog’s paw with an Ace bandage?
It is not advised for dog owners to wrap their dog’s paw with an ace bandage. Ace bandages can be easily removed by your dog by chewing and movement. It is best to wrap your dog’s wound with an elastic wrap; this will protect the gauze pad and secure it in place. Dogs cannot chew through an elastic wrap as easily as an ace bandage.
4. What do you wrap a dog’s wound with?
The best wrap for your dogs would be a layered elastic wrap. Place the gauze pad over the wound. Hold the gauze pad in place and wrap it with a cotton or gauze wrap. Finally, cover the layers with an elastic wrap. Run your fingers along the outside to seal it. The elastic layer will prevent your dog from chewing through the bandaging. If your dog is an active chewer, you can get a cone to reduce the possibility of your dog removing the wrap.