How long does it take for a dog’s paw pads to heal?
It’s hard on us, as well, when our dogs get hurt, as we empathize with them and as much as feel their pain with them. They are, after all, our treasured companions, and when they do get hurt, we want to provide them with the best care possible, so they can recover and stop suffering.
If your dog has injured one or more of his paw pads, it’s a big deal, because an injury in this area can be extremely painful. Plus, he must walk on his paw pads to get around, so the whole time they are healing, he must be walking around on them. Not only can this exacerbate the pain, but it heightens the risk of infection in the wound.
How long until a wound on a dog’s paw pad heals? Is there anything you can do to speed the process? Is there anything you should not do? Following are the answers to these and other questions about injuries to your dog’s paws.
How long does it take for a dog’s paw pads to heal?
Possibly your dog has a paw pad wound, or maybe you are simply curious. Either way, we are here to provide you with the answers to some common questions about how to best help your dog if he wounds his paw pads.
How will I know if my dog has a wound to his paw pads?
If your dog wounds his paw pads, it probably won’t be too hard to tell, as this type of injury can be hard on a dog. Look for these common signs: limping, vocalizing (whining or whimpering), excessive panting, licking or nipping, lethargy, depression (loss of interest in normal activities), and general changes in behavior.
What can cause wounds to my dog’s paw pads?
While I’m sure there are countless ways that your dog could wound his paw pads, there are only a few common ways that dogs’ paw pads are damaged. Here they are.
Your dog gets an abrasion by rubbing, scraping, or wearing off the skin on the surface of his paw pad. Abrasions leave a rough-surfaced, large, open wound that’s ripe for infection if not treated and kept clean, dry, and covered.
Lacerations are cuts or tears on the surface of your dog’s paw pad and possibly into the meat of the pad. Depending on how long and deep the laceration is, it can also be ripe for infection and quite painful to walk on. A jagged laceration is more complicated to deal with than a straight, clean cut.
Punctures can be really serious for a dog, as there is no way to look down into the wound. You just have to hope you got out all the foreign object(s) that punctured his paw pad. You must be very careful with punctures, and upon seeing any signs of infection or if at all in doubt, see your veterinarian.
Rips and Tears
When I say “rips” and “tears”, I am talking about when your dog rips or tears a good size layer of skin off the paw pad, either ripping or tearing it completely off or leaving it hanging. Either way, this can be a terrible wound to try and nurture back to health. The skin will move out of place easily, and stitches are complicated and don’t work very well on paw pads.
These types of wounds can get infected very easily, and they are very painful to walk on. It’s best not to try and do first aid on these types of wounds yourself but to consult a veterinarian and get her advice on how to best care for the wound and protect it while it heals.
Burns (Extreme Heat and Cold)
Your dog should be guarded carefully in extreme temperatures because despite what some people believe, most dogs are no more invincible in extreme weather than you or me. Watching out for your dog’s paw pad health is no different. Extreme heat can cause your dog’s paw pads to become burned when he walks on hot pavement, especially if he walks on oils and such that have been spilled.
Freezing temperatures can also cause your dog’s paw pads to become burned, in extreme cases, to the point of frostbite, and this is even more dangerous than a burn, as your dog can lose his paws. If the temperatures are extreme and your dog’s paws are red or darker than normal, he is limping or refusing to put pressure on one or more paws, licking or chewing at his paw pads like crazy, or especially if he is missing parts of his paw pads, get him to his vet immediately.
Your dog can also get burned by chemicals. He can easily get burned by chemicals that others have spilled or poured out on the ground outside, but there is something else that many dog owners don’t consider. Your dog can also get chemical burns from just walking on your kitchen floor if you’ve used certain chemical compounds on it and not rinsed or otherwise removed them well. The most common chemicals that dogs are burned by are road salts, chlorine, and formaldehyde.
Your dog’s paw pads can easily get over-dry and crack open. When this happens, your dog is in danger of infection, and he is also in pain. The bad thing is it can all be prevented by simply practicing a little “prevention”. Two steps are all it takes to prevent your dog from getting dry, cracked paw pads.
One, when he comes in from a walk, use vet-approved grooming wipes (or a damp washcloth and very diluted, mild soap) to clean his paw pads and between them, and dry them well. Two, when completely dry, apply some paw wax (made with natural wax). Never use products (lotions, creams) made for humans, as they often contain ingredients that are toxic for dogs.
Until the cracks heal, your dog should wear a not-too-tight bandage and a dog boot or snug sock to keep the wound clean and dry, allowing it to heal faster.
Cracks (Internal Causes)
Your dog can also get cracks in his paw pads from internal issues. While boredom doesn’t truly qualify as an internal issue, it certainly can cause cracks in your dog’s paw pads, however indirectly. Dogs often lick and nip at their skin and paws when they are bored, and this behavior, when it becomes chronic, can cause cracks in the paw pads. Here are some more serious health issues that can directly or indirectly cause cracked paw pads.
If your dog has allergies (the most common allergic reaction is to food), they can make his paws itch and swell. When his paws are itchy, he will lick and chew them chronically. Anytime your dog is licking and chewing on his paws, whether they are already wounded or not, he stands to heighten the risk of infection, as this behavior can leave them raw and cause damage, even where there was none.
If your dog is suffering from anxiety, he may act much like if he were bored, licking and nipping at his paws incessantly. It is the equivalent of how some humans bite their nails, or nowadays, play with fidget toys. It keeps him occupied. You should find a way to curb this behavior, as it is not a healthy one. He can damage his paws severely if his anxiety is bad enough.
A dog with a zinc deficiency will display crusty, cracked paw pads. It is important, if you feel your dog may be zinc deficient, that you have your vet do blood work to determine if this is the problem. The common symptom of zinc deficiency is skin lesions: Uncommon symptoms are digestive problems, issues of the thyroid or immune systems, organ failures, and seizures.
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to zinc deficiency than others. These include the Doberman Pinscher, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, Standard Poodle, and Samoyed. There are 3 types of zinc deficiencies in dogs, and treatment depends on which type your dog has. It will begin, though, with an AAFCO-approved dog food.
Nowadays, there are fresh dog food manufacturers that deliver ready-to-eat products right to your door. They are not only good for your dog but appetizing for him, as well. His zinc needs can be well met through fresh foods like red meats, legumes, eggs, greens, and sweet potatoes, just to name a few. The Farmer’s Dog, PetPlate, and Nom Nom are only 3 of the many vendors for fresh pet food delivery.
Issues with your dog’s liver can cause his paw pads to become unhealthy. In dogs, autoimmune diseases, endocrine-related problems, hormone imbalances, and more present with certain symptoms, one of which is chronically dry, cracked paw pads.
Many times, when a dog has a serious internal issue going on, it persists for a long period before he shows any symptoms, so when you see dry, cracked paw pads, especially if moisturizing them doesn’t help keep them well, as it should, begin to look for other signs that might give you a clue as to what is wrong with him. You want to seek treatment for these types of illnesses as hastily as possible.
Approximately how long will it take my dog’s paw pad wound to heal?
Re-keratinization and re-epithelialization each play their part in the rejuvenation of the tissues of a dog’s paw pads. The epithelial layer of a dog’s paw pads will heal in approximately 7-9 days if the wound is superficial, but if the wound is deep and complicated, healing can take up to 21 days, and that is if no infection sets up in it.
How to help my dog’s paw pads heal faster?
If your dog has wounded his paw pads, you need to get to work immediately. It’s time for first aid and prevention, and here is what you need to do.
Assess the situation.
Can you tell how serious the wound is without cleaning it? If your dog is bleeding profusely, try for 5 minutes to stop the bleeding with direct pressure. If you cannot, take him to his vet or an emergency veterinary hospital immediately. Otherwise, do the following.
Clean the wound thoroughly under tepid water.
The first thing you need to do is clean the wounded area, so you can see the damage well. Place your dog’s paw pad under tepid (lukewarm [slightly warm]) running water, and let it run for a bit to clean off the dirt and debris, so you can see whether there is anything lodged in his paw pad, and so you can ascertain how severe the damage to his paw pad is. If his paw pad is still bleeding a little (as long as the bleeding is not severe), apply pressure until it stops (5-10 minutes).
Remove any lodged foreign objects or any debris left on the paw pad.
Use tweezers to remove any debris that the running water didn’t wash away and any foreign objects that are lodged beneath the surface of the paw pad. If you cannot remove the foreign object with tweezers or if you are not sure whether you got all the pieces of it from beneath the surface of the paw pad, consult a vet immediately, as objects left inside the skin can cause infections that can eventually become serious enough to kill your dog.
Rinse the wound again, and dry it completely.
Rinse the wound a second time. If for no other reason, it will be easier to see whether you have really removed all the debris. When it is rinsed well, make sure you dry it completely, as clean, dry wounds are the ones that heal best.
Disinfect the wound.
You need to disinfect the wound next. Some people prefer disinfecting a dog’s wounds with diluted betadine. Others prefer using antibacterial ointment. Either is fine, but make sure you disinfect the wound with something.
Bandage the wound.
After disinfecting the wound, you need to bandage it. You can do this with a non-stick pad, some gauze, and some vet wrap.
See “Should I let my dog lick his cut paw?”
What do I do if my dog cuts his pad?
If your dog cuts his paw pad, you will want to assess the situation. If it’s very serious, take him to the vet or an animal hospital immediately, especially if he is bleeding profusely. If it is not serious, you can perform first aid yourself, as directed above.
You should keep a doggie first aid kit on hand at all times, even in your car. Some common items that go in a dog’s first aid kit are a bottle filled with distilled water, for rinsing the wound; tweezers, for removing foreign objects and debris; non-stick pads, gauze, and vet wrap, for bandaging; antibacterial ointment or diluted betaine, for disinfecting; nail trimmers, for cracked and broken nails; a cold pack, for swelling and dog boots or socks, for protecting his feet and holding his bandages in place.
Should I let my dog lick his cut paw?
If your dog is allowed to lick and chew at his cut or otherwise damaged wound, he will only be hindering the healing process. There are two main things you can do to keep your dog from licking and chewing his wounded paw pads.
Put an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) on him.
Elizabethan collars or e-collars look like cones that widen out toward your dog’s face. They keep him from licking and biting at his paw pads because he can’t get to them through the e-collar. I’m sure it’ll aggravate him a little at first, but he should get used to it quickly and take it for granted. Plus, his wound will heal in no time if there are no other complications.
Put a dog boot or snug sock on the wounded paw.
You have bandaged his wound, but he can get a bandage off with a little chewing. You should consider putting a dog boot on him. It will keep him from being able to chew and lick at his bandage, thus at his wound, and it will be allowed to heal normally. If you cannot afford to purchase a dog boot, use your child’s sock, a sock that’s snug enough to hold the bandage in place but not too tight that it cuts off his circulation.