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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did your dog ever cut their pad? How did you treat it?
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.
Dog Paw Cuts and Scrapes: How to Treat a Paw Injury