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dog parent must-knows
Dog with a cut and bandaged paw

The essentials

  • If you see a cut on your dog’s paw, talk to your vet — They’ll provide first aid tips and advise you on how to clean the wound, offer medicines and balms to ease pain and prevent infections, and teach you how to bandage the area.
  • Clean the wound often — Keeping the cut clean is crucial to prevent infections. If you clean it improperly, you could make it worse. For example, if your dog walks through glass, you could end up lodging the shards deeper into the paw if you try to flush the wound with warm water. Your vet may recommend antibacterial spray to cleanse the paw pad.
  • Slow and stop bleeding — If your dog has a cut that’s bleeding, you should use a clean towel and apply pressure to help stop the bleeding.
  • Apply bandages loosely — You can temporarily bandage the paw to keep it protected until you get to an animal hospital. Make sure to bandage the foot loosely. If it’s too tight, the bandage can cut off circulation to your dog’s food, which can lead to swelling, discomfort, and necrosis.

There’s no worse feeling for a pet owner than seeing their furry friend in pain. Unfortunately, your dog can end up with cut paws that hurt them. But it’s not just the pain you should worry about. Cuts and lacerations that go untreated can end up infected. It’s important to call your vet, clean and treat your pup’s cuts, and prevent paw cuts from happening in the future.

🚨 If the bleeding is severe and you can’t control it within 5 minutes, take your dog to the nearest emergency vet clinic immediately.

Call your vet about paw pad cuts

Contact your vet immediately if you see a cut on your dog’s feet, and try to take a picture of the cut to send to the vet to look at as soon as possible. Cuts that look small may be deep. There could also be debris trapped inside. Your vet can help determine the severity of the cut and help speed up the healing process.

If your dog needs stitches, the vet will be able to do that, plus they can teach you how to properly bandage the paw and prescribe medicine and ointments. Dogs’ pads are important for their bone and joint health as well as maintaining traction and navigating rough terrain, so don’t take these cuts lightly.

How to treat cuts on your dog’s paw at home

According to the ASPCA, wounds that are smaller than a half-inch in diameter can be cleaned and wrapped at home. But it’s still important to call your vet or email a photo of the wound to the vet for medical advice. A cut paw can be painful, and if it becomes infected, it will be painful and risky to the dog’s health.

Fortunately, minor cuts can be treated at home. By keeping the wound clean with fresh bandages, you can help ease your pup’s pain and help them mend quickly.

Remove debris — If there are any thorns, twigs, or dirt, use tweezers or water to carefully remove them. Most of the time, though, the minor cuts you can treat at home won’t have debris, especially glass. These more serious injuries should involve a vet to safely remove the debris.

Clean the cut — Use a small amount of hydrogen peroxide or Vetericyn Plus Antibacterial Wound and Skin Care Spray to clean the wound. You may want to ask your vet for advice on the best cleanser to use for your pet’s cut.

Apply ointment or balm — Antibiotic ointment may help prevent an infection, while paw balm can help it heal by keeping the paw moisturized to prevent drying or cracking.

Bandage the wound — Bandaging the wound will help keep it from getting dirty, and bandages can also help stop your dog from trying to lick or bite at their paw. Just make sure to apply it loosely and only use the bandage temporarily until you can bring your dog to the vet. Don’t leave the bandages on long-term, because they trap moisture that can cause secondary skin infections.

👉 Don’t leave a bandage on for too long, as it can cause a skin infection to develop. 

Repeat cleaning, applying ointment, and bandaging daily — You’ll want to repeat the process of cleaning, applying ointment and/or balm, and bandaging the paw daily. If your dog’s bandage is getting dirty multiple times a day, you should change the bandage when it gets dirty to keep the wound clean and protected from possible infections.

Steps to bandage a paw

After you’ve cleaned and treated the paw, you’ll want to bandage it to keep the cut protected. Follow these steps to bandage the wound, and be sure to reapply the bandages daily.

Gather materials — You’ll need gauze squares, medical tape, cling gauze roll, and clean, sanitized scissors. If you have a pet first aid kit, these materials should all be inside.

Ask a second person to help hold the dog — If possible, recruit a family member, friend, or neighbor to help hold your dog while you apply the bandage.

Place gauze squares over the wound — Place the squares of gauze directly over the cut. For small paw pads, you may need to fold the gauze squares in half.

Use the roll of gauze — While holding the gauze squares in place, start rolling the cling gauze from the wrist down over the gauze squares to the opposite side of the wrist. Roll the gauze like this back and forth a few times before you begin wrapping the gauze roll around the sides of the paw and wrist. Don’t wrap the gauze too tight.

Cut and tape the gauze — Once the squares of gauze are covered with cling gauze and the paw and lower leg is fully wrapped, cut the cling gauze and secure it with the medical tape.

Helping the cut heal

Paw pad balms can help the cut heal and soothe any pain for your pup. Once the wound is starting to scab, you can apply these to protect and moisturize the scab to speed up the healing process. Our favorite soothers are Paw Soother, Paw Nectar, and Dermoscent BioBalm Skin Repairing Dog Balm.

This balm includes natural and organic ingredients, such as coconut and jojoba oils, to help the wound heal. A roll-up container makes application easy, and you’ll notice improvement right away.

Ingredients: Organic mango butter, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, organic hempseed oil, organic jojoba oil, candelilla wax, chamomile, cajeput, calendula, rosemary, natural vitamin E

This paw butter from Quality Pet helps relieve pain by softening cracked or damaged paws. The salve is made with organic ingredients and can help improve paw pads within days.

Ingredients: Certified organic red palm oil, certified organic coconut oil, shea butter, soy wax, avocado oil, rosemary seed extract

Symptoms of a paw pad cut

You should check your dog’s paws weekly for any abrasions or punctures, especially during extremely hot or cold weather, which can lead to dry, cracking, or damaged paw pads. But your dog may also clue you in when something’s wrong with their behavior.

If your dog is in pain, they may limp, whimper, whine, or pant more than usual. You may notice bloody paw prints around the house, or your pet may keep trying to lick their paws. Keep an eye out for these clues that your pet has a cut on their paw pad:

  • Bleeding. While it’s not always the case, a cut on the paw pad might bleed. You might see spots of blood or bloody paw prints where your dog has walked through the house.
  • Limping. A wounded paw can be painful to walk on, so your dog may limp and use the injured paw minimally. If your pup is limping, check for anything stuck in their foot, like a thorn or burr.
  • Licking paws. Your dog may try to soothe their pain with excessive licking or chewing of the wound. If you see your pup doing this, check for a cut. It’s important to try to keep your dog from licking the cut, because it could make the injury worse.
  • Excessive panting. Dogs may pant when they are in pain, so take a closer look if your dog seems to be panting a lot more than usual.
  • Puffiness or swelling. Puffiness or swelling of the paws could be the sign of an infected cut.

Preventing paw pad cuts

While paw pad cuts happen, you can lessen the chance of these injuries by taking a few precautions. In severe weather, applying moisturizers or pet salves can keep paws from becoming dry and cracked from extreme temperatures. Remaining diligent on your walks to avoid hot pavement or broken glass can also lessen the chance of your dog coming home with cuts on their paws.

Watch for debris on walks Keep an eye out for shards of glass, sharp sticks, and other sharp objects that could puncture the paw pad.

Use booties in cold weatherYou can’t always see ice on the ground, and unseen ice can cut your pup’s paws. Dog boots (like these super grippy booties) can help offer protection for your winter wonderland adventures.

Avoid pavement on hot daysYou wouldn’t walk barefoot on hot pavement, because it could burn your feet. So make sure to steer your dog clear of hot pavement, too, to prevent their paws from becoming burned.

Rinse paws after walks in cold weather — In the winter, many people will apply road salts or other chemicals to prevent ice from slicking the sidewalks. Some deicers can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large amounts, and these chemicals can cause dry, irritated, and cracked paws. After your winter walks, rinse your dog’s paws to remove the road salts.

Apply wax to paw pads — Prevent cracking by applying a moisturizer formulated specifically for dogs, such as PawTection, made with all-naturalingredients. It can protect your dog’s paws from salt residue, ice melt, hot pavement, rough terrain, lawn fertilizers, and more. Apply a thin layer to your dog’s paw pads two or three times a week and rub it in.

Frequently asked questions about paw pad cuts

Will a dog’s paw pad heal on its own?

Dogs walk on their paws, so it’s easy for a cut on the paw pad to become dirty, wider, or deeper just from their daily strolls through the neighborhood. Even small paw pad cuts will likely require veterinarian care, and you’ll need to help clean, treat, and bandage the wound for it to fully and properly heal.

Should I let my dog lick his cut paw?

When your dog is hurt, they may start licking it to feel better. But licking can actually cause irritation and inflammation, which can lead to infection. Plus, if your dog is licking a cut that is in the process of healing, they may reopen the wound. After you’ve talked to a vet, treated the cut, and the wound is healing, consider a collar or bandage to keep your dog from licking the cut.

Should you use super glue on a dog’s cut?

You shouldn’t use super glue on a dog’s cut, because it may be contaminated if it’s been previously used. Super glue also contains toxins that may be harmful, rather than helpful, to the wound. Instead, talk to your vet about products that will help clean and treat cuts on your dog’s paw.