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dog paw blisters

📷 by Ayla Verschueren

The essentials

  • Blisters are fluid-filled pockets — They form underneath the top layer of skin.
  • If a blister forms on your dog’s pads — Clean and protect it. Otherwise, you’ll risk infection.
  • Check to make sure you’re not looking at a cyst — Sometimes they look like blisters.
  • Not all blisters require a trip to the vet — If you see redness, swelling, or a blister that won’t heal, it’s best to seek medical attention.

A blister is a fluid-filled pocket that forms underneath the top layer of skin. The fluid, called serum, leaks from injured tissue. Dogs can get blisters in many places on their bodies, including under a collar or harness, on their foot pads, and even between their toes.

Blisters can be painful and cause sore paws. If your pet has blisters on its feet, you might even notice a change in your dog’s gait or limping as they avoid putting pressure on the affected area.

👉 On a dog’s paws, blisters may look like this

Treating blisters on your pup's paws

While blisters don’t always require a trip to the vet, they’ll need some care so that they heal properly and don’t cause additional complications.

Use an anti-bacterial wash — Keeping the blistered area clean will prevent infection. The first step is to wash with an anti-bacterial wash. Our vets recommend Hibiclens to help prevent infection.

Protect the area with a bandage — To prevent the blister from bursting and to prevent infection while it heals, wrap the blistered paw with a bandage. If the blister does burst, it becomes an open wound and needs to be cleaned and protected while it heals.

👉 Keeping dirt and debris out of the wound will prevent infection.

Avoid rough terrain or hot pavement — While your dog is healing, avoid rough terrain and hot pavement. If the blister was caused by a chemical irritant, avoid the area that was treated so your dog can heal.

Don’t allow your dog to lick their paws excessively — Licking the area can lead to both infection and additional blisters so you want to help your dog avoid licking their paws while they are healing. You can use an Elizabethan collar or deterrent spray to help prevent licking.

Apply an antibiotic ointment or a product like Paw Soother or Paw Nectar to soothe the area — These products are made with ingredients designed to prevent infection and soothe any painful or inflamed areas.

When to call your vet

If you’ve been treating your dog’s blisters and you notice any of the following, call your veterinarian and have them take a look.

The blisters aren’t healing. If you have treated your pup’s blisters and notice that after a few days they’re not healing at all or are getting worse, this could be a sign of a more serious issue or infection. While some dogs heal faster than others, if you aren’t noticing any improvement it’s best to call a doctor. They can also help you determine and address the underlying cause of the blister so you can help prevent new blisters from forming.

Redness or swelling around the blister. Redness or swelling around the blister may be signs of an infection. If you also notice that there’s pus coming from the blistered area, your dog has spiked a fever or is lethargic, these are additional symptoms of infection and you should seek veterinary treatment ASAP.

You’re seeing blisters on other parts of your dog’s body. If your dog is developing additional blisters on other parts of its body, this could be a more serious condition and your dog should be seen by a vet to determine the cause and create a better treatment plan.

You suspect your dog has a cyst. If you think what you’re seeing is actually a cyst instead of a blister, take your pup to see the vet. Your veterinarian will make a recommendation on how to treat (or remove) the cyst. The first step in this process might include taking a biopsy to determine the type of cyst.

How do doggies get blisters on their paws?

Dog paw pad blisters are common. After all, dogs walk around barefoot 24/7! Here are 7 common causes of paw blisters:

1. Burns from hot pavement

Walking your dog on hot pavement can cause blisters and burns on their paw pads. Use extreme caution when walking your dog on very hot days. If the sidewalk or pavement feels too hot for your bare foot or the back of your hand, it may be too hot for your dog to walk on comfortably.

2. Walking on rough terrain

Walking on rough terrain like over uncleared hiking trails, rocks, or gravel is another way your dog can end up with blisters on their paws.  Even uneven asphalt and concrete areas in the city can cause blistering.

3. Excessive exercise

Canine athletes or those who enjoy running and hiking with their owners are also at greater risk of developing blisters. If you and your dog are racking up some miles together you’ll want to check for blisters regularly.

4. Coming in contact with skin irritants

If your dog’s paws come in contact with things like salt on the road in the winter, and other chemical irritants these can cause blisters to form. When coming in from winter walks, clean your dog’s paws as soon as you can to avoid blistering.

5. Allergies

Both seasonal allergies like pollen and mold and food allergies can cause your pup to lick at their paws excessively which can lead to the development of blisters. If you see your dog licking or chewing at their feet, rule out allergies as the cause.

6. Injuries

Trauma and injuries to your dog’s feet can also result in blisters. One specific type of blister, called a blood blister, can form if your dog’s paw pad is pinched. This is exactly what it sounds like — the pocket of fluid is actually a pocket of blood.

7. Cysts

While a cyst isn’t a blister, they can certainly look a lot alike. If you’re unsure if your dog has a blister or a cyst, it’s a good idea to chat with your vet.

Prevention tips: Keep your dog’s paw blister-free 

Here are steps you can take as a responsible pet owner to keep your dog’s paws healthy:

Check your dog’s paws regularly — Look for signs of irritation like redness, bleeding, or cracked paw pads. You’ll want to remove any debris or irritants from between your dog’s toes. This will help you prevent blisters before they form.

Practice good hygiene — Make sure your dog’s nails are trimmed regularly and that they’re clean. Wipe down your doggie’s feet after walks, especially in the winter. Keeping up with good hygiene, in general, will reduce the risk of blisters or other painful foot issues.

Use a balm to protect paw pads — Using paw balms will protect your dog’s paws from the elements and friction that can cause blisters. The moisture barrier can help keep the pup’s paws from getting blisters in the first place or soothe blisters after they happen.

Avoid walking on pavement that is extremely hot or cold — You may need to plan your walks strategically to keep your dog off of extremely hot or cold roadways or those that have been heavily salted. Avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures will help prevent blisters. Try walking on grass when possible.

👉 In the summertime, you can avoid long walks during the peak of the heat for the day.

Consider boots to protect your dog’s feet — Boots (like these durable booties) can protect your dog’s feet from the elements and uneven terrain. One word of warning — make sure boots are properly fitted or they can actually rub your dog’s feet/legs and cause additional blisters to form.

While blisters are usually not serious, they can be painful so providing treatment and care if your dog gets one is very important.

Frequently asked questions

Will a dog’s paw pad heal on its own?

Blisters will need some care to make sure your dog’s paw pad heals. You should use an anti-bacterial wash, bandage the area, avoid rough terrain, and don’t allow your dog to lick their hurt paw.

Can dogs get blisters between their toes?

Yes, dogs can get blisters on their paw pads and between their toes. If you notice a blister between your dog’s toes, it’s important to get them checked by the vet to make sure it’s not an interdigital cyst.

What causes blood blisters on dog paws?

Blood blisters happen when something pinches your dog’s paw pad. This creates a pocket of blood from where the area is pinched.