Foot Wounds in Dogs: Cookie’s Plantar Paw Pad Injury

Dog paw pads are tough but they can still be cut by sharp objects.

Cut pads take their sweet time to heal because the edges are pushed apart with weight-bearing.

Foot Wounds in Dogs: Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury

Cookie’s paw pad injury

The new territories we’ve been exploring include neighboring fields that are open and far enough from the swamp.  They are surrounded by woods and we walk both at the edge of the field and venture into the woods.

Within the field is a wooded spot with nicely grown trees where Cookie loves to hunt for squirrels.

Sadly, there are some old appliances and other refuse there as well. These spots can be found anywhere around here as the old farmers just used any ol’ place as a dump. Mostly, though, it’s quite nice and squirrels are plentiful.

Who is bleeding from where?

One day, as we were on our way home, we noticed red spots in the snow.

Did somebody cut their foot on something? Yes, it was Cookie’s hind right foot that was bleeding.

I do carry couple packages of field dressings in my pocket at all times but this didn’t seem to bleed enough to use them. It was bleeding quite a bit, though.

We made our way home and then we closely examined the foot.

Cookie's paw pad cut 48 hours post injury

Cookie’s plantar pad had quite a large cut on it.

I was a clean linear cut. Cookie’s foot must have found a piece of glass. We washed it in betadine solution and applied some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Cookie was more worried about the blood trail she was leaving behind than her footsie.

Should we go to a vet?

There are some vets who would suture the pad, depending on the wound. Most would not.

Most would, however, dispense antibiotics.

I think antibiotics are one of the best things since sliced bread. But I like using them very discriminately. We decided to try and take care of it ourselves. As long as we can prevent infection and allow it to heal, we should be in good shape.

Not that I didn’t talk to a number of vets and consult with them on the progress. Of course, I did. Among other things, all of them suggested bandaging or booties.

Bandaging dog feet

I find bandages on dogs to be a scary thing.

Firstly, if let to get wet and not changed often enough, an infection can fester without anybody knowing. Things can get pretty bad in a hurry.

Secondly, with the way Cookie is, messing with her gait is pretty dangerous in itself. I’d rather have a cut paw than a broken leg. Booties would be even worse in that respect. Can you imagine a dog with a bootie running through a rough bush at 19 miles/hour safely? We cannot.

We rested Cookie as well as we could the first day. After that, though, she really needed some decent exercise already.

We tried a walk without bandaging.

The plantar pad is somewhat out of the way and non-weight bearing to some degree. It was cold and we had some fresh snow. So maybe it would be fine.

Not with what Cookie normally does when she’s outside it wasn’t … this way it would never heal.

Perhaps we should try bandaging it after all.

Minimal interference with proprioception

Because of the location, I figured I could maybe do it while leaving the digits free which would allow Cookie to navigate terrain normally while protecting the injured pad. So I worked out the theoretical plan.

I never bandaged anything in my life!

Which is quite amazing given the number of health issues and injuries we’ve gone through with our dogs and which made the whole thing that much scarier.

However, we had to try something to protect the wound so it could heal.

Foot Wounds in Dogs: Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury

With shaking hands, I tried my plan.

It worked! I left the digits uncovered and after the first couple of awkward steps, Cookie was walking on the foot normally!

The plan seemed sound. Now it was only a question of whether or not the bandage will stay on. We apply liquid vitamin E from a capsule before dressing so the gauze wouldn’t get stuck to the wound and to promote healing.

The first time we used a regular stretchy gauze bandage and tied the end. It lasted good twenty minutes. That was a good start.

Outdoor-only bandaging

We decided to bandage the foot for the walks only.

After the walk, we remove it and rinse the foot with betadine solution. Then re-dress for the next walk. This takes care of my fear of infection because it never stays on for long enough. It also provides an opportunity to get a lot of practice in a short period of time. Bandaging a foot two to three times a day makes you a pro in a hurry.

I share my bandaging experiences here.

Healing progress

So far our approach has been working. The wound is clear of infection and healing. Of course, with Cookie’s shenanigans, she does manage to hurt it a little every now and then. No bandage and no bootie could prevent that.

I share my bandaging experiences here.

Given all that, it seems to be healing as it would be expected.

Pad injuries can take time to heal simply because of the location and the abuse they take.

Cookie doesn’t pay any attention to her foot so that’s a good sign.

I think she could do without us paying all that attention to it but she lets us. After all, that’s what it takes to get to go for a walk. What is a dog to do, gotta put up with the abuse.

With a dog less active as Cookie it would likely be easier. But Cookie is a fireball and if she doesn’t get her exercise, she’d have to get rid of the energy somehow. And I’m sure neither she nor us would be very happy with the results of that.

For now, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing because it seems to be working as well as anything would.

Foot Wounds in Dogs: Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury
It’s healing in spite of all the beating it takes.

Did your dog ever cut their pad? How did you treat it?

Postscript

It did take a while before the pad fully healed but eventually, it did without any complications. You couldn’t tell there was ever any wound on Cookie’s foot.

It required patience and diligence but it worked great.

Related articles:
Dog Foot Pad Bandaging: What Worked Best for Cookie’s Plantar Paw Pad Cut

Further reading:
Dog Paw Cuts and Scrapes: How to Treat a Paw Injury

Categories: ConditionsDog careLimpingReal-life StoriesSymptomsWound careWounds

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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