The dog’s paws are truly unique anatomical structures – they are thick yet rubberized, protect the foot, and provide significant cushioning. The paws ensure traction, prevent slipping, and protect against the elements. They also help dogs navigate hostile terrains. It is normal for dog parents to worry if the paws become damaged or injured with so many essential functions.
So, do dogs’ paw pads grow back? Yes, the good news is that paw pads grow back after being damaged or injured. The bad news is the healing process is usually long and quite painful. This is simply because the paws are exposed to repeated trauma, and they rarely hold stitches. However, here is another good news – paw pad injuries can be prevented or at least decreased in frequency by checking the surfaces you let your dog step on and inspecting the feet after walks.
This article will explain how injured paw pads heal – how long does it take and why it is vital you help your dog’s recovery process. We will also explain what to do when an injured pad is coming off and provide first aid tips.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR DOGS PAW PADS TO GROW BACK?
The paw pad heals through a process called re-keratinization. This scientific term indicates a process of growing new and tougher pad skin that will withstand more powerful trauma.
The length of the recovery depends on several factors, including the depth of the injury, your dog’s age, and overall health.
The wound depth and intensity are the most important determining factor. Generally speaking, more superficial wounds tend to heal in between seven and nine days. More profound injuries take longer to heal – sometimes up to 21 days or even more.
As for age and overall health, younger dogs heal faster than older dogs, and specific systemic health issues (diabetes, cancer) is associated with prolonged recovery times.
WILL A DOG’S PAW PAD HEAL ON ITS OWN?
Vets rarely recommend stitching torn footpads because pads rarely hold the stitches. In most cases, the stitches will fall off a day or two after being applied, thus defeating the purpose of suturing the wound in the first place.
However, just because the dog’s paw pad cannot be surgically corrected, it does not mean it should be left to heal independently. If left untreated, the chances of self-healing are meager. There are three main reasons why paw pads do not heal on their own.
First, the dog’s paw pads are exposed to continuous trauma – even walking on a soft surface is traumatic because of the pressure. If the paw pad is injured or torn, it will constantly be irritated while the dog is walking. In cases of extreme pain, the dog may limp and avoid using the injured leg. However, even if your dog is cautious when favoring its leg, it can still accidentally traumatize the already injured paw.
Excessive wound licking
Dogs are notorious for their wound licking tendencies. If the dog’s paw pad is torn, the wound will be subdued to constant licking. On the one hand, the licking is good – the dog’s saliva has a specific antibacterial power, and the tongue movements remove the debris from the wound. However, on the other hand, the constant handling of the injury will delay its healing, thus increasing the risk of complications.
No matter how clean your dog is, its feet will always harbor various germs. This is entirely normal – after all, your dog uses its paws to step on the ground. Typically, the germs found on the dog’s feet cannot exert their harmful effects. However, when the pad is injured, and the protective barrier is disrupted, these germs can easily infect the wound, and infected wounds cannot heal.
WHAT TO DO IF THE DOGS FOOTPAD IS COMING OFF?
If the footpad is coming off, it means there is a visible skin flap hanging loosely. Sometimes this flap will have to be removed, and other times it can be repositioned and fixed with a bandage.
Which option is best depends on the circumstances and must be decided by a medical professional. If your dog’s paw pad is heavily torn and the footpad is coming off, all you have to do is bring your dog to the vet’s office.
Never attempt to peel the flap on your own, as this can be painful and stressful for your dog. If the vet decides to remove the flap, they will use sedation to ensure the process is pain-free and comfortable.
HOW CAN I HEAL MY DOG’S PAWS?
There are several healing options for paws. However, which approach is best for your dog depends on individual factors. It is never advisable to self-treat at home. In the section below, we have provided some first-aid tips.
These first aid tips are a temporary solution. Once the vet examines your dog and determines the treatment strategy, they will instruct you on how to take care of your dog’s paws at home – bandage change, oral or topical medications, and cage rests or limited physical activity regimens.
FOOTPAD INJURIES – FIRST AID
As mentioned, when your dog’s footpad is damaged or injured, it is vital to seek veterinary attention. Here are some first aid tips on managing the situation until you can see your trusted vet.
Step number 1: Cleaning the wound
It is advisable to start by inspecting the wound – check for foreign objects like metal shards, wooden spikes, or glass. If a foreign object is lodged superficially, you can try removing it with tweezers. If there are more foreign bodies, you can use the hose to pressure them out of the wound.
However, if the foreign body is lodged deeply, you should not attempt to remove it on your own. Digging into the wound will only make things worse and is extremely painful. Deep-seated foreign objects must be released under sedation at the vet’s office.
If there is no foreign body or you managed to remove it, you can use a dog-friendly antibacterial soap or Betadine solution to disinfect the wound.
Step number 2: Controlling the bleeding
If the wound is bleeding, it is crucial to stay calm and act rationally. The most efficient way of stopping the bleeding is by applying pressure with a clean towel. More minor injuries stop bleeding fast even without the pressure, while deeper wounds usually need more time to stabilize.
Once stabilized, the wound may start to bleed again when the dog tries to use the injured leg. If the bleeding continues even after you have applied pressure for over 10 to 15 minutes, it is recommended to take the problem to the next level and head toward the vet’s office.
Step number 3: Containing the wound
Containing the wound refers to applying a bandage over the injured foot. Before using the bandage, put several gauze pads under the foot to provide cushioning and ensure blood absorption. Once the gauze pads are positioned, you can start wrapping the entire foot with a self-sticking bandage (for example, VetWrap).
When bandaging, the bandage must include both the fingers and the joint above the injured pad – carpus or tarsus. Covering the toes will prevent swelling, while protecting the ankle will keep the bandage in place and prevent slipping. The dressing should be applied tight enough to hold yet loose enough not to hurt your dog (ideally, you should be able to insert two fingers between your dog’s foot and the bandage.
Step number 4: Changing the bandage
To prevent infections, the bandage will have to be replaced daily. If your dog is a keen chewer and enjoys eating its dressing, try spraying with an anti-lick product specifically formulated for dogs. When going out for walks, you can tape a plastic bag over your dog’s foot to ensure the bandage will stay dry.
While changing the bandage, you need to pay extra attention to the foot’s appearance. If you notice redness and swelling, discharges, or foul odors, you must contact your trusted vet. These are all red flags indicative of infection and compromised circulation, and both issues can lead to permanent foot damage.
It is also imperative to seek veterinary help if the wound opens or bleeds after being seemingly better. If necessary, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections and pain killers to manage the pain and promote faster healing.
As remarkable body structures, the dog’s paw pads deserve special care and attention. However, no matter how careful you are, accidents happen, and your dog can have a paw pad injured – torn, pierced, or even burnt.
Luckily, paw pads tend to regenerate or, in simple words – heal or grow back. Although the healing process is often long and painful, you and your vet can develop a strategy to make the recovery smooth and as comfortable as possible with proper care and management.
If your dog is prone to paw pad injuries, it is recommended you consider purchasing a nice pair of doggy shoes. The shoes will protect your dog’s paws and put your mind at ease.