What are Sore Paws?
A limping dog with droopy eyes and a sad face is one of the most disturbing things you’ll ever see on earth. Dogs are well known as man’s best friend and they tend to live up to this title without sometimes showing the slightest hints of discomfort even when they are injured. Due to this tendency, we sometimes only discover they are suffering long after they have played themselves to having red and bloody paws.
Sore paws in dogs usually arise from long walks or play sessions in an environment that can be defined as rough. Such activities in such an environment may result in small tears and cuts on your dog’s paws or, even worse, a cracked pad. These injuries can only be seen once you take a close look at your limping dog’s paws; otherwise they can easily go unnoticed.
Painful paws may not be terminal but they are a constant pain in your dog’s arse (or paws to be precise) and they are a constant source of discomfort; robbing you and your dog the opportunity to run around and enjoy the joviality of having each other’s company. And, in addition to these, identifying sore paws on your dog ensures the situation doesn’t escalate to something worse such as a deadly infection.
As avid and compassionate dog owners, we have compiled a number of very effective ways that will help you deal with sore dog paws any time they arise. But, before you skip to this bit, we have also included a comprehensive detailing on where the dog sore paws are located, the signs that will help you identify them and the causes for this predicament.
Signs of a Paw Injury
The following are clear signs that your dog has an injured paw:
- Excess chewing or licking of a certain paw
- Paw is held off the ground when the dog is walking
- If your dog’s pad is discolored
- Matted fur between toes
- Nails that are torn
What Causes Paw Injuries
Paw injuries in dogs, as we have indicated before, may be caused by a number of reasons which include:
- Foreign objects- foreign objects such as glass, nails, sticks etc. may penetrate through your dog’s paws and embed themselves.
- Trauma-paw wounds can also result from your dog getting stepped on or getting pinched therefore resulting in crushing of the paws
- Burns- burns especially those caused by pavements that heat up during the summer can result in paw wounds
- Wounds- pad wounds such as cuts, bites from other animals and insects may also result in immense discomfort on your dog
- Frostbite- during cold weather, your dog shouldn’t be taken out for long walks as these extreme conditions may cause tissues on your dog’s paws to die back and slough away.
- Mud rash- This is a condition that is common in horses but it also affects dogs in a different way. During rainy weather, your dog’s paws get dirty and after a while they will start chewing on them continuously to get rid of the dirt. If this goes on for some time, this will result in a sore on top of the paw. This is known as a case of mud rash.
- Cracked pads- your dog’s pads are prone to wear and tear and as they go through this, the cracks sometimes become painful and result in sore paws.
- Atopy- Atopy refers to an allergy that is caused by something in a certain environment. Dogs, just like humans, have allergens that affect them in negatively causing an allergy. These allergens may include pollen or grass sap and they result in such symptoms as excessive paw licking and itchiness.
- Parasite infection- Dogs paws are also prone to frequent attacks from such parasites as hookworms, mites and ticks. Hookworms are the most notorious parasites that prefer paws. They thrive in dirty and wet environments and contaminate your dog via their larvae. Irritation is caused by burrowing from the hookworm larvae as they go through the skin.
- Arthritis- Arthritis in dogs may also cause sore pores as the throbbing or aching in their toes makes them resort to incessant licking.
Remedies to soothe paw injuries
There are a number of remedies you can prepare and administer at home to soothe your dog’s paw injuries. These include:
- Cleaning your dog’s paws- cleaning your dog’s paws is a good way to get rid of a number of injury-causing elements. As you are cleaning your dog’s paws, you will be able to spot any lodged object stuck between their toes, get rid of dirt that leads to excessive licking, and identify scrapes and cuts that may need closer attention. If your dog is already injured, cleaning the wound should also be the first step you take.
Cleaning should be done using clean and cool water or a diluted solution that is saline.
- Take the injured dog indoors- Once you have identified that your dog is injured and you have cleaned the wound, take them indoors to reduce the risk of them making the wound worse or adding another wound as they play outdoors.
- Apply antibacterial ointment- Once your dog is indoors with a clean and dry wound, you can now apply an antibacterial ointment to prevent infection on the wounded area.
- Bandage the wounded area- bandaging your dog’s wounded paw isn’t strictly necessary. The only two situations that demand this last step are: a) if your dog won’t stop licking the injured area and, b) if there is a possibility that dirt and/ debris may get into the wound as your dog walks about. However, you should note that only a light gauze (2-3 layers) is required for bandaging because the wound needs air circulation to heal fast and the bandage shouldn’t be applied so tightly that it constricts blood flow and affects the healing process.
If in the cause of using this home remedy any case scenario such as bleeding that doesn’t stop present themselves then you should take extra measures and either call the veterinarian or take your pet to one.
A bandage may also not be effective especially if your dog keeps biting and chewing at the wound. If this happens, there is a high chance of the wound reopening. You can prevent this by resorting to such over-the-counter solutions as EMT Gel, a Bite-Free collar or Musher’s Secret if the wound keeps reopening naturally. You can get any of these solutions on Amazon by clicking on the embedded links.
Do’s and Don’ts when treating your dog’s Sore Paws
- Clean your dog’s wounded paw. This gets rid of dried mud and any debris lodged between their toes.
- If you can trim any excess hair or long nails they may have on their paw, do it.
- Get rid of any debris that may be stuck between your dog’s toes or in their footpads
- Keep them comfortable; preferably in bed, and offer them your comforting presence. You can also offer some treats and toys for entertainment.
- Try to keep them as still until they recover. They should avoid unnecessary movement as it may deter healing.
- If you find loose flaps on your dog’s foot pad, don’t trim them. These loose flaps are mostly caused by burns and blisters.
- Don’t moisturize your dog’s foot pads using human moisturizers
- Don’t let your pet chew or lick the injured paw
How to Prevent Paw Injuries?
- Introduce new and rigorous activities to your dog slowly and gradually especially if the said activities are to happen in a rough environment e.g. hiking. This will give your dog’s paws enough time to adjust to the environment.
- Grooming your dog may also help prevent sore dog paws especially since some dog nails need clipping from time to time. This will ensure that dogs with a lesser disposition towards naturally wearing their nails down don’t end up with nails that may be injurious to them.
- Harsh weather conditions may also cause sore dog paws. Salt and chemicals can lead to the drying and cracking of your dog’s paws during winter and during summer, hot pavements can lead to severe burns on their paws. As a result, during winter it is always advisable to wash your dog’s paws and during summer, you should always try to gauge whether the asphalt is too hot by placing the back of your hand on it.
- Cleaning your dog’s paws regularly especially after outdoor excursions is also an effective way of avoiding sore paws in dogs since this gets rid of any obstacle that may be lodged between their paws.
Other paw problems
Here are other paw problems that may affect your pet:
- Yeast infections– caused by an overgrowth of the yeast present on your dog’s skin
- Bacterial infections– your dog’s skin also contains bacteria that cause infections if they get to overpopulate.
- Torn toenails– if toenails get stuck on such fabric as your carpets, your dog may get a torn toenail when they try to pull free
- Ingrown toenails– this is a common condition in dogs that have nails that have been allowed to grow too long
- Cancerous growths and non-cancerous growths– Growth and cysts develop on most dogs. Some of these may be benign in nature while some may be malignant. You should consult your vet for a cytology sample-taking if you see any suspicious looking growth or cysts.
- Allergies– dogs are allergic to certain allergens and these may cause itchy paws
If your dog has burned their paws, follow the following steps for treatment:
Step1- immediately immerse the burned paws in cold water for not less than 10 minutes or wet a washcloth and hold it against the burned paw for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Step 2- after immersing the paw in cold water, gently wash it with soap and clean water.
Step 3- after washing, gently dry the pad with a towel.
Step 4- then gently apply a layer of antibiotic ointment.
Step 5- bandage the burned paw. You can use gauze or a sock.
Step 6- closely monitor the burned paw. If it doesn’t show improvement, take your dog to a vet.
Dog hates Paw bathe, what to do
Some dogs hate being bathed in bathtubs and this is not abnormal. It may take some time for them to get used to the idea of bathing in bathtubs. Dogs may hate being bathed in bathtubs due to a variety of reasons which include slippery floors that they can’t comfortably stand on, fear of running water or they simply detest the smell of the shampoo you are using.
If your dog is uncomfortable in the bathtub and soothing doesn’t work, you should consider taking them outside and bathing them with a hose instead.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com