Dog Paw Injuries
From Pet Health Learning Center
Dog Paw Injuries (Canine Paw Infections and Cuts)
Signs and Symptoms
If we humans ran around all day barefoot, we would have to endure frequent foot injuries. So instead we wear shoes and boots to protect ourselves against the terrain, weather, and other hazards. Dogs, on the other hand, typically do not wear any sort of footwear and are continuously exposed to a variety of potentially dangerous conditions. This is especially true for adventurous dogs that enjoy spending plenty of time outdoors. For these animals, paw injuries are quite common and have numerous potential causes and sources. Yet, even less active canines are quite susceptible to sustaining paw injuries of different types. While the symptoms and warning signs will vary depending upon the type of injury that has occurred, most dogs experiencing a problem with one of their paws will favor that paw, limping and showing a reluctance to use the affected leg or foot. Thus, favoring a paw is the main warning sign of a dog paw injury while additional general symptoms include whining and other behavioral indications of pain and distress.
Since there are practically endless potential hazards that can give rise to a canine paw injury, specific symptoms will depend upon the type of injury sustained. In some circumstances, the type of injury present may not be particularly obvious, while in others it will be more apparent. Two common types of injuries include cracks or cuts on a dog's footpads. Both of these types of injuries should be visible upon inspection of the favored paw. A dog may also lick at a paw injured in either of these two ways, and cuts to a dog's footpads tend to bleed a fair amount. If a cut becomes infected, the injured paw may become swollen and warm to the touch.
Foreign objects lodged between a dog's toes can also cause significant discomfort. If this is the problem that your dog is experiencing, the object may be visible between the toes and there could also be signs of irritation and possibly infection, including redness, inflammation, and discomfort. Furthermore, dogs suffering from this type of injury will often lick and bite at the paw in an effort to remove the foreign object.
Broken toenails are another form of dog paw injury that can be quite uncomfortable for your pet. Broken toenails can cause pain, irritation, and limping, and the broken nail should be visible. Other toe injuries are also common, including broken and dislocated toes. In such circumstances, the injured toe may be swollen and obviously painful. When a dog is stung by bee, wasp, or hornet on its paw, possible symptoms include swelling, itching, and pain. The insect's stinger may also be visible at the site of the sting. Other injuries, such as broken bones, bruises, and muscular pulls and strains, may not have any outwardly visible signs other than limping and reluctance to put weight on the affected paw. Occasionally, however, swelling and significant pain may be evident.
While the majority of canine paw injuries are relatively minor and will heal quite quickly with limited help, in some cases these injuries are more serious and require treatment by a veterinarian. If your dog has sustained a paw injury and you are unsure about its cause or severity, or if your dog appears to be in distress, be sure to contact your veterinarian so that your pet's health and comfort can be restored as soon as possible.
In order to diagnose the specific type of paw injury that is affecting a canine patient, a veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination. In most cases, it will be relatively easy for the practitioner to identify the specific problem that is bothering your pet. While conducting the physical exam, the doctor will look for any clinical signs that can help to pinpoint the type of injury present. At this point, the veterinarian will also go over the animal's medical history. This is the time where you, as the pet owner, can provide valuable information regarding your pet's recent behaviors, symptoms, daily routines, and activities. In the majority of cases, a physical examination and the canine's medical history will provide sufficient information and clues for a diagnosis to be reached. However, in certain circumstances, further diagnostic tests may be necessary.
The types of supplementary tests and tools that will be required will depend upon the type of injury that is suspected to be present. For instance, x-rays can be used in order to confirm the presence of a broken bone while blood tests are useful with respect to checking for possible infections. As noted previously, however, the majority of dog paw injuries will be readily identifiable to the trained eye of a veterinarian.
A canine paw consists of four toes that make contact with the ground, and a nail for each toe. Some dogs also have a fifth toe or dew claw located further up the leg. On the bottom of a dog's paw are protective keratinous footpads that are designed to provide cushioning and to shield the foot from potential hazards. Yet, even these special footpads are relatively vulnerable to certain conditions and can become injured. Most frequently, injuries to a dog's footpads include cuts and cracks. At the same time, a dog's toes and legs can also become injured. Skin, bone, muscular, and soft tissue injuries can all occur, causing varying degrees of pain and discomfort for your pet. Since a dog uses its paws for countless different activities -- including running, jumping, and digging -- it's no wonder that the types of paw injuries that can occur are numerous and varied.
While the types of paw injuries that can be sustained are numerous, the potential causes of canine paw injuries are even greater in number and diversity. One of the greatest culprits with respect to dog paw injuries is the surrounding environment. Sharp rocks and rough terrain can cause injuries to a dog's footpads, especially cuts. Other objects such as thorns and broken glass can also lacerate the protective footpads. Countless different objects from the ground, indoors and outdoors, can also cause injury by becoming lodged between a dog's toes. All of these events not only cause discomfort and irritation themselves, but they can also lead to infection. The weather is another facet of the environment that can give rise to dog paw injuries. Hot, dry weather and very cold weather can both cause cracks in a dog's footpads. Furthermore, hot weather can lead to extremely warm surfaces, such as cement and asphalt, which can burn a dog's feet.
In addition to these environmental causes, a number of different activities can also lead to paw injuries. Running, jumping, rambunctious playing, and slipping can all lead to injuries, including strained muscles and ligaments. Even something as simple and accidental as a person stepping on a dog's paw can cause a broken toe or bruise. Broken toenails can also occur quite easily, and can result from a variety of different everyday activities. Moreover, curiosity or even just pure accident can lead to a dog receiving an insect sting to its paw. As a result, it's clear that dog paw injuries can be caused by a myriad of different factors, influences, and events.
Treatment The treatment required by your dog for its paw injury will depend upon the specific type of injury that is present. Most such injuries will require very minimal treatment, although some will need more care and attention. For example, broken toenails will need to be clipped off while cuts will need to be carefully cleaned and treated with an antiseptic ointment or cream. In the case of more serious cuts, stitches may be necessary. Cracks in a dog's footpads may need to be treated with a soothing ointment while broken bones may require a split. In many situations, it can be helpful to use a special doggie boot in order to protect the affected paw and prevent further injury from occurring. This is especially true when a dog's footpad is injured, as it is very easy for continued irritation to interfere with the recovery of these pads.
When a foreign object is lodged between a dog's toes, the object will need to be removed. If you cannot do this easily on your own, a veterinarian's assistance will be necessary. If your dog's paw has become infected as a result of a cut, broken nail, or foreign object, certain medications or ointments may be prescribed in order to combat the infection. Soothing lotions may also be recommended to treat symptoms of an insect sting. Many paw injuries, such as bruises and most muscle strains, simply require time to heal rather than any specific form of treatment.
For many types of dog paw injuries, especially for footpad injuries, natural remedies can be very helpful with respect to promoting quick healing and restoring comfort. Such products consist of natural ingredients that provide an array of beneficial properties for your injured pet. For example, Arnica reduces both pain and inflammation while stimulating a dog's immune system and helping to combat infections. In addition, St. John's wort promotes the healing process while also providing relief from pain and inflammation. With so many beneficial effects, natural remedies can help to restore your dog's health and comfort when it is suffering from a paw injury.
Suggested Products Heal-Care Ointment for Dog Paw Injury