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How to Treat a Dog Paw Wound

During your dog’s daily routine, paw wounds are always a possibility. While paw pads protect their feet, they have their limits. There may be a problem if you notice your dog walking in a pained manner or licking a paw more than normal. Know if they have a wound, how to treat it and when a veterinarian should step in with this blog. 

Supplies Needed for Dog Paw Wound Care

When preparing to address a possible injury like a cut paw, recommended supplies include:  

  • A saline cleaning solution (or salt to make your own)
  • Clean, soft towels or cloths 
  • Electric hair clippers (scissors or safety razors are also options but shouldn’t be your first choice)
  • Tweezers 
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Fresh gauze and tape 

Steps for Treating Your Dog’s Wound

Once you’re prepared, it’s time to proceed with these guidelines in mind. Throughout these steps, your dog’s paws will likely be especially tender and sore, so always work slowly and carefully. If you have a small dog, consider treating them on an elevated surface, like a table or counter. With a big dog, try to be at their level on the ground. Also, consider if you think you’ll need someone to help keep your dog still. This can be especially helpful if they’ve already been skittish about you getting close to their problem paw. 

Above all else, remember to help your dog in the realm of what’s possible. Don’t think you need to do it all when there are experts who will provide all manner of specialized care for them. 

Stop here and speak with a veterinarian instead if you notice any of the following at any time: 

  • Deep wounds or lacerations
  • Pus coming from a wound
  • Extreme paw redness and/or puffiness

Rinse With a Saline Solution & Clip Back Hair As Needed

Disinfecting your dog’s paw can help show the wound(s), prevent infections and remove debris that’s been stuck. It’s easily done with a pre-made saline solution or a home remedy you create yourself (it’s as simple as boiling a cup of water and half a teaspoon of salt and letting it cool). You can also opt for hydrogen peroxide if you dilute it with three parts water first. 

Simply pour the disinfectant over the paw once it’s ready. Once the paw has been sufficiently treated, let it air dry if it’s especially agitated or dry it by gingerly patting it with a towel or cloth. 

You’ll now want to examine the entirety of the paw to know the full extent of the issue. This includes on top of the paw and spaces between their toes. If you’re not able to see anything wrong, you’ll want to carefully trim or cut some of the hair around the paw. Once you find the problem area, you’ll hopefully have a better indication if your pet needs expert care like stitches, if you can remove anything small with tweezers yourself or if it’s simply something like a slightly cut paw pad. 

Apply an Antibacterial Ointment

An antibacterial ointment can help prevent infection and ensure effective healing. Just try to opt for something made specifically for dogs before relying on worse-working Vaseline. Before applying anything, you need to ensure that any bleeding has stopped. You can help control it through light pressure via a cloth or even the application of a cold press, though it may simply take time. Elevating their paw above their heart can also help with this. Once you have applied the antibacterial ointment, it’s best to let it work undisturbed for 10 minutes before proceeding. Do your best to not allow your dog to mess with or lick it during this time. 

Place a Bandage

Once 10 minutes have passed, you can proceed to use gauze and tape to cover the wound. Make sure it fits snugly but not enough to be uncomfortable or do your dog harm. A good rule of thumb is to make sure two of your fingers can fit between the gauze and the paw (just test this gingerly). 

Then, it’s a matter of protecting the gauze as best you can. Consider putting a plastic bag or a dog-specific bootie over their foot when they go outside to help the covering stay in good condition. Of course, the biggest battle you may face is making sure your dog doesn’t mess with the gauze themself. 

Prevent Licking

There are a few different options to help encourage your dog to stop licking if they’re persistent. For one, you can opt for a gauze type that comes with a safe-but-bitter taste that dogs don’t enjoy. You can also use an Elizabethan collar (e.g., a head cone or inflatable) to make sure licking isn’t even an option. You can also use any other tricks or methods that have personally worked for you in the past. 

When to Bring Your Dog to the Vet

On a daily basis, check how your dog’s paw is healing and reapply saline, ointment and fresh gauze. If anything doesn’t look right with you at any point, or if your dog’s condition is not improving over a week as you’d expect, it’s time to bring them to a veterinarian. Signs of issues can include extreme paw enlargement, worsening wound color or a foul odor. Even before these signs, though, it’s never overreacting to get in contact with an expert (this can help prevent a paw infection). 

At Care First, exceptional care is always the standard for your canine family member. Schedule a same-day appointment with our team of experts and get the personalized peace of mind you and your dog deserve. 

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