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What to do if my dog cut their paw pad?

The pad on your dog's paws protects them from anything they may step on while walking, including sharp stones. In some cases, they can experience an injury that affects their paw. Here, our vets in Gallup share information on treating your dog's cut paw pad and when to take them to the vet.

What are paw pads?

A dog's foot has three main types of paw pads: the metacarpal pad, the primary pad, and the metatarsal pad, which is located just above the foot. These pads are essential for the dog's mobility and well-being. 

The pads serve as shock absorbers, providing cushioning and support when your dog engages in activities such as running or jumping. They help to maintain balance and stability during movement, which is crucial for the dog's safety and comfort.

Moreover, paw pads play a vital role in protecting your dog's feet from extreme temperatures. They act as a barrier against potential burns or frostbite, whether on hot pavement or icy surfaces. This protection ensures that your dog's paws remain healthy and injury-free.

What to Do If My Dog Has a Cut on His Paw Pad

Dogs' paw pads are tough and durable, but they can still get injured by cuts, tears, burns, or puncture wounds. If you notice that your furry companion has hurt their paw, including if your dog cut their pad paw between the toes, some tips can help you relieve them.

How to Treat a Paw Injury

Examine your dog's pad closely for any signs of foreign objects, such as glass or thorns, debris, grass, or bits of gravel that may be lodged in the wound. You can gently remove loosely embedded debris with clean tweezers.

If your dog has a large piece of glass or other foreign object lodged in its foot, contact your nearest emergency vet immediately for advice on making your dog as comfortable as possible while transporting them to the clinic.

Clean The Cut

To clean a wound on your pup's paw, follow these steps. First, add a good amount of warm, soapy water to a bowl or bucket. Swish your pup's foot in the water to clean the wound and help dislodge any remaining debris. Then, rinse with clear water.

Alternatively, you can gently spray your dog's foot with clean water using a hose to rinse away debris and clean the paw. While rinsing, add a small squirt of liquid hand soap or dish soap to help kill bacteria.

Another effective method to clean a cut on your dog's pad is to rinse the wound with an antiseptic such as diluted chlorhexidine solution.

Control The Bleeding

If you have checked for and removed any foreign objects that could worsen the cut, use a clean piece of cloth or towel to apply pressure to the paw pad. For deep cuts, bleeding may take some time to stop. In such cases, a cold compress may help to constrict the blood vessels and slow the bleeding. Shallow grazes may not bleed, but ensuring proper cleaning and care is still important.

Assess The Severity of the Injury

You can often manage minor cuts and scrapes on your dog's paw pad at home. However, you should seek veterinary care if your dog sustains deeper cuts.

If your dog's cut is ragged, deep, or has debris lodged in it, it's time to head to your vet or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Your vet will clean and dress serious cuts, and in some cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help fight infection.


Use non-stick sterile gauze pads to cushion the bottom of your dog's cut paw pad and absorb blood. This method should also help decrease your dog's pain when walking on the foot.

To help keep the gauze in place, wrap your pup's entire foot in a self-sticking bandage such as Vetwrap or Well & Good. These wraps are available at most well-stocked pet supply stores, and some brands even come coated in bitter flavoring to discourage your dog from chewing the bandage.

Wrapping your dog's feet from toes to ankles will help prevent the toes from swelling and prevent the bandage from slipping down. While the bandage should be snug enough to stay put, do not wrap it too tightly. You should be able to slip two fingers in between the bandage and your pup's skin.

If bleeding does not slow and stop once you have applied the gauze and bandage, it's time to head to the vet for care.

How much time it takes for a paw pad to heal? 

Cut Paw Pads:

Proper protection is crucial for helping your dog heal faster until the cut paw pad is completely healed. Additionally, it is crucial to keep your dog calm and prevent them from running or chewing on the bandage. In some situations, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar, also known as a cone, to keep your dog from accessing the injured paw.

Even after the cut pad has completely healed and is no longer painful to touch, it will remain tender and susceptible to re-injury. It is essential to be cautious and avoid activities that could potentially damage the healing pad. Using a bootie or protective footwear can provide an additional layer of protection for the foot.

Burnt Paw Pads:

On extremely hot days, dogs may sustain burns from hot surfaces. If you notice your dog licking its paws, this behavior may indicate that it has been burned. You can relieve and alleviate their discomfort by running cold water over your dog's paws. This will help cool the burn and soothe the affected area.

However, it's important to note that if you suspect a significant burn or if your dog's condition does not improve, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Burns can vary in severity, and professional medical assessment may be necessary to provide appropriate treatment and care for your dog's well-being.

Should I let my dog lick his cut paw?

Many pet owners often wonder whether they should let their dog lick its cut paw. Although licking can help to kill bacteria at the site of the injury, excessive licking can result in the wound reopening and infection. Therefore, letting your dog lick its cut paw is not recommended. You can use a bandage to prevent licking, but in some cases, dogs may become too fixated on licking the wound. In such cases, it may be necessary to use an Elizabethan collar or another device to prevent further licking until the cut paw pad heals.

When should I take my dog to the vet?

There are many reasons to take your dog to the vet. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately for urgent or emergency care.

  • Large or deeply embedded foreign objects that may need surgical removal
  • If there is discolored or foul-smelling discharge
  • Chemical burns/ Severe burns
  • Excessive or uncontrolled bleeding  
  • Deep lacerations that require sutures 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has a cut paw pad, contact our Gallup vets for care. We can help your pet to heal and return to normal activities as quickly as possible.

New Patients Welcome

Cedar Animal Medical Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gallup companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(505) 722-7786