How to Care for a Dog's Sore Paw

When you go hiking or jogging, you probably put on a comfortable pair of shoes that will cushion your feet, protect your feet from foreign objects, and prevent blisters. In fact, you probably can't imagine doing anything that involves running or hiking without proper footwear, but dogs tend to spend almost every minute of every day walking on bare paws no matter what they're doing. When dogs get cuts, scrapes, burns, and blisters, it's critical that you properly care for the injury so it can heal as quickly as possible.

Dog foot on the floor
When your dog has a sore paw due to a scrape, cut, or tear in the paw pad, you need to start cleaning the wound by flushing the wound with water or an antiseptic wash.
credit: Goja1/iStock/GettyImages

Immediate care for cut pads

When your dog has a sore paw due to a scrape, cut, or tear in the paw pad, you need to start cleaning the wound by flushing the wound with water or an antiseptic wash. While doing this, look for obvious debris such as rocks or glass.

If you see debris, remove it by flushing it with water or pulling it out with tweezers, acting as gently as possible and assuming that the paw is tender. Do not attempt to take out anything deeply lodged into the wound and instead take the dog to the veterinarian to have it removed.

Next, control the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with a clean towel. Most cuts will stop bleeding after only a few minutes, but deep wounds can take longer to dry. If the wound is still bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes, bring the dog to an emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

Once the bleeding has stopped, evaluate the severity of the injury. If it is particularly deep or jagged, if you can't get the wound free of debris, or if you notice anything likely to result in infection, such as fecal material, a rusty piece of metal, or an animal bone, take your dog to the vet to ensure she receives proper care for these potential complications.

Bandaging a cut paw

Apply antibiotic ointment to a pile of nonstick gauze pads and place them on the wound, using multiple pads to provide a cushion and to absorb blood. Wrap up the paw all the way to the ankle with self-adhesive medical wrap. Make sure the bandage is secure but not too tight — you should be able to slide two fingers between the bandage and the leg.

To care for the paw while it heals, rebandage the wound every day, cleaning it and applying antibiotic ointment every time. Keep the bandage dry and apply a commercial bootie or a plastic bag and some tape whenever your dog goes outside. Keep your dog from overexerting himself while he heals and stop him from chewing on the bandage, which may require using an anti-chewing spray or a cone.

If you notice the wound has become swollen, is warm to the touch, smells bad, or has some kind of moist discharge, take your dog to the vet, as it may be infected. Similarly, if the wound is still gaping open or bleeding after three days, he should be taken to the vet to see if stitches are necessary.

Dog paw pad blister care

Dogs can get blisters and burns due to friction from their paw pads rubbing together and causing a blister or from walking on a hot surface such as scorching pavement or sand. To care for a dog paw pad blister or a burn, the first step is to gently wash the paw with an anti-bacterial wash. Apply pet-safe antibiotic ointment and loosely bandage the paw, securing it up to the ankle to keep it in place. Change the bandage daily until it has healed.

Always be sure to evaluate the damage when you first notice a blister. Do not pop a blister or cut off the loose skin if the blister has already popped. If the burn is severe, the blister is notably deep, the pad becomes discolored, or the injury gets infected, take your dog to the vet.