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Woman holding a dog‘s paw

The essentials

  • Slow and stop bleeding — If your dog has a cut that’s bleeding, you should use a clean towel and apply moderate pressure for 5-10 minutes to help stop the bleeding. Bandage the paw loosely to avoid complications with circulation.
  • If you see a cut on your dog’s paw, talk to your vet — They’ll provide first aid tips and advice, offer medicines and balms to ease pain and prevent infections, and teach you how to bandage the area.
  • Clean the wound often — Properly cleaning the cut is crucial to preventing infections and further damage. Follow your vet’s guidance to the letter. Be careful since excessive scrubbing and cleaning can reopen wounds.

There’s no worse feeling for a pet owner than seeing their furry friend in pain. 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.

🚨 Moderate pressure or holding the cut closed for 5-10 minutes may control bleeding. If the bleeding is severe and you can’t control it within 10 minutes, immediately take your dog to the nearest emergency vet clinic.

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 as soon as possible. Cuts that look small may be deep, and debris could also be trapped inside. Your vet can help determine the severity of the cut and help speed up the healing process.

Blood and discoloration may not come from a cut at all. Blisters, burns, and even frostbite are common paw ailments requiring specialized treatments through balms and other medications. Your veterinarian can help assess these issues as well.

Vets can provide stitches if needed, 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, 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 with antibacterial wash and wrapped in a light bandage at home. But it’s still important to call your vet or email them a photo of the wound for medical advice. A cut paw can be painful; if it becomes infected, it will be even more painful and risky to the dog’s health. Any deep penetrating wounds like those from bites or from stepping on a nail can easily become infected and require professional attention.

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 clean tweezers and 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’s guidance to safely remove the debris.

Clean the cut

Use a small amount of Vetericyn Plus Antibacterial Wound and Skin Care Spray or other antibacterial wash 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 infection, while paw balm can help heal by moisturizing the paw to prevent drying or cracking. Note that balms are only for very minor cuts and scrapes, as applying balms to deeper wounds can further embed contaminants and prolong the healing process.

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. Clean socks lightly taped to the hair or skin above the foot can also work well as paw bandages. 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. Change your dog’s bandage when it gets dirty in order to keep the wound clean and protected from possible infections. For particularly active dogs, this may be multiple times a day.

Epsom salts in warm water make excellent soak for the affected feet. Make sure to dry the foot thoroughly before applying any bandage material.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

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.

Step one: 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.

Step two: 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.

Step three: place gauze squares over the wound

Place the squares of gauze directly over the cut. You may need to fold the gauze squares in half for small paw pads.

Step four: 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 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.

Step five: 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.

Pick the right bandages

Not all bandages are created equal, and not all are perfect for your pained pooch. Consider details like size, adhesive type, and chemicals when choosing the right bandage.

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.

Should I let my dog lick their cut paw?

Most animals instinctively lick their wounds, and you may be tempted to let your dog follow those impulses. However, licking wounds can often cause more harm than good. Licking can cause irritation and reopen cuts, which may lead to prolonged healing or even dangerous infections.

Properly bandaging wounds will help prevent your dog from licking, but if they are persistent or if the licking advances to chewing or other harmful behaviors, you may need to equip your dog with a stylish Elizabethan collar, colloquially known as the cone of shame. You can also look into over-the-counter bitter sprays to apply to the bandages to discourage licking and chewing.

When should I take my dog to the vet?

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.

While small cuts and minor bleeding can be handled at home, you should consult a vet if you observe any of the following:

  • Deeply embedded objects like broken glass or metal
  • Excessive bleeding that persists after several minutes or bleeds through bandages
  • Signs of infection like heavily inflamed skin, discoloration, and discharge
  • Evidence that part or all of the paw pad has been ripped off

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. Sticking to designated paths and sidewalks can help assure that the way will be clearer.

Watch out for metal — Common foot injuries come from dogs running over metal yard borders, gutters, or scattered yard debris. These injuries can be particularly severe, even requiring surgical intervention at times, so keep that in mind when landscaping and tending your yard.

Use booties in cold weather — You can’t always see ice on the ground; 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 days — You wouldn’t walk barefoot on hot pavement, so make sure to steer your dog clear of hot asphalt and concrete, too, to prevent their paws from becoming burned.

Avoid running too much on rough terrain — Your dog likely loves to run, but you’ll want to prevent them from running too much on pavement, rocks, and sand. These hard surfaces can cause painful “degloving” of the paws, leading to further injury and infection.

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-natural ingredients. 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

How do you treat a cut pad on a dog’s paw?

First, assess the severity of the cut. You should seek a vet if heavy bleeding or foreign objects are embedded in the skin. Clean the cut thoroughly with clean water, gentle soap, or an antibacterial wash if the cut is minor. After cleaning and drying, loosely wrap the paw in a sanitary bandage.

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.

How long does it take a cut paw pad to heal?

Healing time depends on many variables, including how deep the cut is and how often the dog walks on the injury. In general, you can expect a cut to take 2 to 3 weeks to fully heal, but this time will increase with the severity of the wound and any complications that may arise.

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.