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dog parent basics

How to treat burned dog paws

Hot pavement and other surfaces can burn your dog’s paws. If you think your dog has burned paw pads, follow these first aid steps.

Updated November 16, 2020

Created By

Kaitlyn Arford,
treating a burned dog paw with salve

Dog paw balms are a great way to help prevent or treat a variety of paw pad injuries.

The essentials

  • If your pooch has paw pad burns, talk to your vet — Your veterinarian can determine the severity of your dog’s paw pad burns and what kind of treatment is needed.
  • Do your best to prevent paw pad burns — Check your dog’s paw pads frequently for signs of blisters, burns, and abrasions. Your pup’s paws are indicators of their overall health, so protecting your pup’s paws also protects their health.
  • Use paw balms to treat, heal, and protect paw padsNatural Dog Company, Bodhi Dog, and Musher’s Secret all make great stuff.

How and why dog paws burn

Pooches use their paws for more than galloping around the dog park: dogs sweat through their paws to stay cool. Paws regulate body temperature and help dogs cool themselves.

Extreme temperatures like winter cold and summer heat can cause severe burns to paw pads.

Dogs walking or running on hot surfaces like hot pavement can burn their paws. This also includes sand, gravel, driveways, streets, parking lots, boat docks, or the back of a pick-up truck. Basically, any surface that heats up, like metal and hot pavement can quickly create burns and blisters.

Dogs can get burnt paws from chemicals used to melt ice, like sidewalk salt, or household cleaners like bleach, drain cleaners, and fertilizers. These chemicals harm your pet’s paws and cause chemical burns, so make sure your dog doesn’t step in a chemical substance.

Symptoms of paw pad burns

Signs of discomfort may include:

  • Blisters
  • Severe burns
  • Limping
  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Holding up a paw
  • Whining, growling, or heavy panting
  • Missing section of pad
  • Pads darker in color
  • Red paw pad (in severe cases)
  • Bleeding
  • Foreign objects in paw

How dog paw burns differ from paw pad hyperkeratosis

Paw pad hyperkeratosis looks like “hairy paws.” If you notice blisters, discoloration, or missing sections of the pad, it’s likely a burn.

Call your vet ASAP

Your dog needs to be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will know how to treat the burn and will help prevent further damage. They can prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to ward off infection.

👉 Seeing your veterinarian for your dog’s burned paws is non-negotiable, especially if your dog’s paws are bleeding or severely burned.

Your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics because of the high risk of infection in paw pad burns. Paws have to be bandaged to protect them and to prevent bacterial infections or irritations by debris. Your vet may do a cleaning under anesthesia or remove dead tissue.

At-home first aid for burned paws

If you can’t get your dog to the veterinarian immediately, you need to treat your dog with these simple steps at home to prevent infection and further injury:

  • Immediately flush the paw pads with cold water. This helps clean them of any debris and helps soothe the burn. Apply a cool compress if possible.
  • Get them off their feet. Immediately get them off their feet so they don’t further injure their paws. Walking on injured feet will open wounds, irritate burns, and delay healing. If possible, pick them up. Otherwise, get your dog to a grassy area.
  • Gently clean your dog’s paws. Look for debris or foreign objects embedded in the pad. If you can easily and gently remove the foreign objects, if possible. If the debris is deeply embedded, try not to disturb it. Wash your dog’s injured paws with water and anti-bacterial soap and rinse thoroughly. The goal is to eliminate any debris without further aggravating your dog’s injury. Gently pat their paw burns with a clean towel to dry them.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to your dog’s paw pad injury. Dog-safe antibiotic ointments or paw balms can soothe your dog’s paws before they are seen by the vet. Wrap them in gauze using a figure-eight pattern. This is done by looping around the paw and ankle to keep the bandage on the paw’s foot. Always leave two toes exposed so you can look for swelling. Swollen toes mean the bandage is too tight and is cutting off circulation.

These are our favorite paw pad soothers to use

Paw balms moisturize your dog’s paw pads while creating a protective layer between their paw pads and their environment. These paw balms can be used to treat burns or as a preventative measure. We only recommend products that we’d feel safe using on ourselves.

This vegan paw soother is loaded with herbs and soothing oils that help heal your dog’s burned paws and are safe if ingested. Organic ingredients like vitamin E and coconut oil are anti-inflammatory. With all these top-notch ingredients, it’s no wonder why it holds the top rank in Amazon’s Dog Paw Protectors category.

More severe burns may need Natural Dog Company´s Skin Soother, a moisturizer packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, antioxidants, and antimicrobials.

Ingredients
Cajeput Essential oil, Calendula extract, Rosemary extract, Jojoba oil, Hempseed oil, Coconut oil, Candellia wax, natural vitamin E, Chamomile, Mango butter, Cocoa butter, chamomile

This USDA-certified organic paw balm protects paws in hot and cold climates. We love that this salve is made in the USA with organic ingredients. Bodhi Organic Paw Balm is also the most affordable option, so it’s ideal for dog owners who want to stick to a budget and pups with sensitive paws.

Ingredients
Organic shea butter, Jojoba oil, beeswax, hemps seed oil, Calendula extract,

If you’re on the lookout for a natural paw soother that’s gluten-free, look no further: Musher’s Secret is non-toxic and non-GMO. This salve will protect your pup’s paws from extreme heat conditions that cause burns. It’s no shock that Musher’s Secret has hundreds of five-star ratings on Chewy and Amazon.

Ingredients
White beeswax, yellow beeswax, Carnauba wax, candelilla wax, white oil, vegetable oil, vitamin E

How to apply balm to burned paws

  1. Distract your dog with treats and toys
  2. Clean and dry the affected area (only use vet-approved cleansers or water — rubbing alcohol isn’t safe for your four-legged friend!)
  3. Apply the balm generously with a clean cloth or your fingers
  4. Keep your dog occupied while the balm dries
  5. Reward with more treats and toys

Remember: Consistency is key — apply 1 to 3 times a day.

👉 Make sure you keep your dog occupied while the balms dry!

Healing of dog paw burns

Your veterinarian will probably bandage your dog’s feet and may prescribe antibiotics since paw pad burns can get infected. In addition to giving your dog any medication your vet prescribes, follow these tips for a successful recovery.

  • Keep them inside as much as possible.
  • Dogs need to rest. Keep them off their feet as much as possible.
  • Avoid hot pavement.
  • Don’t let dogs lick the injured area.
  • Put booties on your dog’s paws to protect paw pads.
  • Apply ointments like paw balms.
  • Walk in dry areas. Avoid wet grass and puddles.

How long it takes your dog to recover depends on the severity of the burn. It could take a few weeks in severe cases. Give your dog lots of love and patience, and always follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

How to prevent dog paw burns

One of the best ways to prevent burns is to protect paws. Thankfully, it’s easy to take these simple steps to help deter paw burns.

Strengthen your dog’s paw pads year round — Walk your dog on hard surfaces through the year. Your dog’s paw pads will become tougher when they walk more often on rough surfaces. Ease them into acquiring this toughness by introducing them to rough surfaces slowly for short periods of time.

Keep dog walks to a minimum when it’s too hot for their paws — Dogs who typically walk on grass or aren’t very active will have more delicate paws. But even dogs accustomed to walking on rough surfaces are at risk for burns when walking on hot days.

When you’re walking on a hot day, check the asphalt with your bare hand — If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pooch.

Walk your dog in the early morning or evening to protect their foot pads — Avoid walking your dog in the heat of the day, especially during summertime. Walking earlier or later during the summer months also helps prevent heatstroke.

Check their paws frequently — One of the best ways to protect your pup’s paw pads is also the easiest: frequently check them. Check for blisters, cuts, cracks, sores, or foreign objects that cause abrasions.

Apply a moisturizing paw balm as a preventative measurePaw balms both treat and help prevent paw pad burns.

Pad their paws with dog booties or socks — Your dog may hate wearing booties, but if you live in extreme weather conditions, dog booties are an easy way to protect your dog’s feet from salty sidewalks and hot pavement.

Regularly clip your dog’s nails — Taking care of your dog’s hygiene is part of responsible dog ownership. When your dog’s nails are too long, they can splinter and scrape the ground, get infected, and interfere with walking. Have a veterinarian or groomer regularly clip nails.