How to Care for a Dog's Torn Paw Pad

By Sandra Ketcham

A paw pad, or footpad, is the toughest part of a dog's skin. Paw pads are located on each toe and under the metacarpal and metatarsal joints. They provide support and reduce the shock and pressure caused by running and standing. Torn paw pads often bleed a lot because they are rich in blood vessels, but the amount of bleeding does not necessarily indicate a severe injury. According to the Houston SPCA, home treatment for torn paw pads is generally sufficient, unless the cut is very large or deep. Sometimes, a dog’s torn paw pad may require stitches.

Flush the torn pad with povidone/iodine, and check for any dirt or debris. The Partnership for Animal Welfare recommends mixing iodine and water with Epsom salts, and then using the solution to flush out the wound.

Dry the paw pad thoroughly, but gently, after cleaning. The risk of infection increases if the pad remains wet.

Apply a triple antibiotic cream to the wound, and then cover with a light bandage. Liquid bandages may work better for some dogs. The bandage must be changed frequently, at least every other day, to enable air circulation and to keep the wound dry.

Keep your dog off the affected paw as much as possible for a few days. It is especially important to keep him off rough surfaces, such as cement, which might cause additional damage to the pad.

Wrap the injured foot in a plastic baggy when taking your dog outside for any reason. This will help keep the injury clean and reduce the likelihood of infection. Remove the bag when your dog comes back inside the house. A sock is also effective at keeping the paw clean, but does not work as well if the ground outside is wet.

Watch the pad carefully for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or discharge. If you notice signs of infection or if the pad does not appear to be healing after a few days, you must take your animal to the veterinarian.