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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Dogs often slice off the black pigmented part of their main foot pads during exercise. When this happens what should owners do ?

During the spring and summer months veterinary practices often see dogs that are lame because they have sliced off part of the black, protective, outer layer of the foot pad . This usually happens because the dog has turned suddenly whilst running at pace, and the pad is scraped off on a hard, rough surface OR because the dog has trodden on a sharp object such as a piece of flint or metal lying in or on the ground.

When the pad has been scraped off there may be little or no bleeding but red, raw, sensitive, underlying tissue is exposed. Providing the wound is superficial,  the foot can be washed with clean water (a small amount of salt or antiseptic such as chlorhexidine can be added) three times a day and the wound should be protected by applying a thick sock or a commercial "boot" designed specifically to protect dogs feet. Bandages should only be applied by people trained to put them on properly.

If the thick black tissue has not been totally removed and a flap of it is hanging on veterinary assistance should be sought. Depending on the viability of the tissue it can be sutured back in place, or removed.

If the pad has been injured by a sharp object the cut can be deep and there may be a lot of haemorrhage. These cases should be examined by a vet as soon as possible to stop the bleeding. A large piece of material (eg clothing, a sheet or blanket) can be wrapped around the foot and held firmly in place to contain the bleeding while the animal is transported to the veterinary surgery. Stitches may be needed to hold the wound edges together otherwise the pad can open up when the dog walks and bleeding can start again. Deep cuts should always be examined by a vet because antibiotics may be needed to prevent infection in the wound.

When covering the foot with a sock, the sock should be tied lightly above the hock joint (back leg) or elbow (front leg) to keep it in place, otherwise it may slip off. Never tie a sock on tightly and never use an elastic band as this could cut off the blood supply to the leg.

Although pad wounds are painful at first they heal quite quickly and within 10 days the dog should be able to exercise normally. In the meantime the protective covering should be kept dry - and a plastic bag can be put over it if the dog has to go outside in the rain. Until the wound has healed the dog should be kept off rough ground and it should be exercised on hard, flat, smooth surfaces eg pavements or concrete.

Even if the wound on the pad appears to be minor the dog should be examined by a veterinarian because, unless the incident was witnessed, there could be other injuries present. For example, in some road traffic accidents a dog can be pushed along the road by the vehicle, and the pads may be scraped off on the road surface.

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Updated October 2013