Labs love to keep busy—whether it's going on a hunting trip in the woods or playing fetch in the backyard. It's this active lifestyle that puts him at greater risk of suffering paw pad injuries.
While paw pads are the toughest part of skin on a dog's body and are designed to withstand walking on tough surfaces, they are still susceptible to cuts, burns, and other problems. If severe, they can even leave your dog immobile.
Recognizing a paw pad problem
Naturally, bleeding from, swelling of, or a change in color to, the paw is an indication that your dog has a paw pad injury. Also watch for constant licking of a paw pad, limping, or crying out in pain when your dog walks, or if someone touches his paw.
Try to identify the source of the problem by examining your dog's paws closely. Be gentle when touching a sore paw. Even the most mild-mannered dog can nip if you touch the source of its pain.
Common paw pad boo-boos and their treatment
- Small cuts or scrapes—Wash the foot with a wound cleanser and apply an antiseptic ointment. If possible, lightly wrap in gauze and cover with a dog boot. If you have problems keeping the foot bandaged or the cut is large, deep, or bleeding a lot, speak to your veterinarian.
- Object lodged between toes or in the pad—Carefully remove the object with tweezers. Burrs, thorns, ice balls, and dried mud are common culprits and can cause discomfort. Hair mats can form between toes and should be clipped back. Wash and apply an antibiotic cream if necessary.
- Dry, cracked pads—Apply a moisturizer. You can use the same lotion you use on your hands, but if you do, only use for a few days in a row. If pads get too soft they will be vulnerable to injury. Protecta-Pad Cream is a product for dogs that moisturizes and toughens pads at the same time. Cover with a boot to prevent your pet from licking off the lotion or cream.
- Mild burns—Treat as you would a cut. Wash, apply an antibiotic, and cover with gauze and a boot. If the burn is severe, consult your veterinarian.
Paw pad injuries can range from mild to severe. In most cases, mild injuries will heal on their own. If your dog seems to have a more severe paw problem that is causing him pain, your best bet is to bring him to the vet.