It's not always obvious when a dog gets a minor cut to their footpad. However, deeper cuts can cause lameness immediately or leave bloody paw prints behind. It's unusual for a dog to bleed from a cut in the paw, however the bleeding may look worse and more dangerous than it really is.
First aid for dogs with injured paws
- It can be helpful to put a muzzle on your dog before looking at their injury to avoid a bite
- Inspect the wound
- Flush with water to clean and remove any objects, grit and dirt.
- Add a paw bandage or pressure bandage if the paw is bleeding a lot
- Keep your dog still
- Go to the vet to have the wound checked.
Clean the cut
If there is gravel or dirt in the wound, it should be flushed out with clean water or saline. Then inspect the wound. How does it look?
Deep wounds that cut right into the footpad must be sutured. Superficial wounds, such as flaps in the footpad, may be more difficult to assess.
Avoid washing the wound with liquids containing alcohol. Strong agents and wound salves can irritate the cells in the wound and can impair wound healing.
Apply a paw bandage to superficial wounds
If the wound is bleeding - apply a paw bandage. Properly bandaged, i.e. with cotton between the toes and under the spurs, you can temporarily wrap with strong pressure to stop the bleeding. It can be difficult to tape a cut on a dog so that it lasts, so contact a vet for advice.
Apply a pressure bandage in case of heavy bleeding
In the event of spurting and/or pulsating bleeding from the wound, you should apply a pressure bandage and contact a veterinarian urgently.
Suture cuts within eight hours
For best results, cuts should ideally be stitched within 8 hours. A cut that is stitched generally heals faster than if the wound is not stitched at all, but even if more than 8 hours have passed since the injury, a cut heals best if stitched.
Wounds in the footpad are exposed to great stress when your dog walks on its paw, so even if the wound is stitched, there is a risk that the wound can open again. If the wound is deep or located on the back of the paw, on top of the footpads, major vessels and tendons may have been damaged. Apply a pressure bandage and contact a veterinarian urgently.