How to Take Care of your Dog’s Paw Pads


Translated by Nick R

A dog’s pads are like his shoes, they are a protective barrier against the elements on the ground.

Pads are very resistant, however, they can suffer painful damage and even make your dog lame. So, it’s essential to know how to take care of and protect this important part of your dog.

That’s why I’m going to explain everything you need to know to take care of your doggy’s paws.

Dog’s paws anatomy 

Above all, we must know what your dog’s paws and paw pads are like, what they’re for, and how they’re composed.


Usually, canines have 5 toes on the front paws and 4 on the hind paws, although this may vary depending on the breed, as some have an extra digit (also called dewclaws); any dog, however, can develop them.

This dewclaw doesn’t suppose a health threat and neither does it have any proven utility. Some breeds that have it are Saint Bernard, the Pyrenean Mastiff, and the Spanish Mastiff.


Keeping the nails manicured and trimmed properly is crucial because long nails can impede the pads to rest properly on the ground, thus hurting the canine’s joints. Even, long and neglected nails can dig into the pads causing wounds.

So, groom and care for your furry’s nails regularly.


The pads are located in the sole of the canine’s paw. Canines only rest on three of their four digital pads for walking: they don’t rest their whole paw on the ground because they are digitigrades (the weight is not supported on the heel, but on the toes).

The one furthest back and largest is called the metacarpal and the one that is a little more separated from the others is the carpal.

Furthermore, the pads have deposits of fat that create the elasticity that helps cushion the impact with the ground and thus avoids damage to the bone or joints. They also have sweat glands that are responsible for regulating temperature and moisturizing the pads to prevent them from drying out and cracking.

Also, these glands I mentioned above allow the dog to mark territory thanks to the scent they give off. Thus, it’s normal to see your pet “scratching” the floor.

Wounds on the dog’s pads 

Although the pads protect dogs from different elements that can be found in the environment where they walk, they can also be injured due to temperature, the type of terrain, or objects on the ground.

Temperature and asphalt 

Taking your pooch for a walk when the sun is at its hottest and the asphalt is boiling hot is not recommended. I’m sure you won’t notice it since you’re wearing shoes, but the heat retained by this type of material can burn your canine’s pads, causing him a lot of pain and making him unable to rest the affected paw or paws for a while.

For example, a few months ago I took my dog Amber to a warm-weather place, it was quite hot and Amber was running around, we only stayed one day in that place and came back home. However, when we arrived we noticed that she was lame, she seemed not to be able to support her back leg because it hurt a lot.

When we checked her we realized she had a burn, her pads are black and it looked as if they had “peeled off” as there was a small pink part. So we had to clean, disinfect, get an antibiotic gel and bandage the wound until it got better; it took about 1 week to heal.

Likewise, burns can also happen when walking in very cold temperatures or on ice.


If the claws are long and unkempt, they can keep the canine from resting their paws on the ground. They will press against the pads when walking, causing injuries.

It can even lead to damage to the paw joints because the dog will be supporting all its weight incorrectly (without using the pads).

In addition, the claws can easily get entangled in different objects and break, which will be very painful for your furry friend.


When walking or taking a walk with your dog you should always watch where they are walking. There may be sharp objects on the ground such as broken glass that can get stuck in your dog’s paw and cause an injury.

How to take care of your dog’s paw pads? 

First of all, prevent your dog from hurting his pads. It’s better to walk your dog in parks or areas with grass, which won’t be as aggressive as other surfaces. Also, it’s advisable never to walk your dog on asphalt when it’s too sunny, as he will burn his paws.

If your canine got a small wound (not serious), here is what you should do:

  1. Stop the bleeding: first of all, if the wound is bleeding too much, the first thing you should do is stop the bleeding: so press on the wound with a couple of gauze pads. If it doesn’t stop after 2 minutes, you have to go to the veterinarian because you won’t be able to do the healing on your own.
  2. Clean the wound: wash the wound well with warm water or saline solution. You can apply the product more easily with a syringe. Even better if you can get a disinfectant soap.
  3. Disinfection: After washing it, apply some disinfectant products such as, for example, chlorhexidine.
  4. Bandage: Bandage the wound to avoid further damage or contact with substances or dirt on the floor. The bandage should be changed at least 3 to 4 times a day to allow the wound to breathe and to repeat the entire cleaning and disinfection process.  Depending on the severity of the wound, it may take a few weeks to heal.
  5. Veterinarian: now, if your canine has a deep and very serious wound, which may be bleeding too much and you are unable to contain the bleeding, you must take him immediately to the veterinarian. However, if you have doubts about the seriousness of the injury, go to your veterinarian and they will tell you if you can cure it and take care of it at home or if it needs to have some other type of treatment.

Note: some wounds are serious, but may seem harmless. For example, if your canine has stepped on a nail or an object that has left a small but deep wound; these injuries are very dangerous. For this reason, you should always go to the veterinarian, even after healing at home, because it can be more serious than we think.

Of course, you should always keep an eye on the healing of the wound. If you see anything strange, such as a yellowish color or pus, you need to ask for help from a professional.

Products to prevent and treat pad wounds 

On the other hand, here I’ll give you different products that you can use both to treat the wounds on the pads and to prevent damage.


There are different pad protecting and moisturizing creams on the market to help protect your canine’s paws from heat, cold and dryness by moisturizing them.

Likewise, they can be applied to a wound as some of them have healing properties.


Available in different colors and sizes, they are designed precisely to take care of your canine’s paws as they form a protective layer against the ground.

However, many people don’t like this type of product because it goes against the dog’s nature. I personally put them on them only if we go for a walk and the asphalt is hot, in order to prevent my little dog from getting a burn again.

Vaseline and olive oil: 

These are responsible for moisturizing the pads and thus preventing dryness and, therefore, cracks. However, before trying any home remedy ask your veterinarian and try applying just a little on a part of the pad and waiting for 24h to make sure there is no allergic reaction.


Sprays have various functions, for example, there are some made from aloe vera to moisturize and repair the pads, as well as disinfectant sprays to treat wounds.

Antibiotic gel: 

This one helps precisely to treat the wound that your dog may have on his pad, however, before applying, you must clean and disinfect very well.

Paw cleaner: 

This is a kind of silicone cup with bristles inside. All you have to do is introduce your dog’s paw with a little bit of water and soap and rub it together with the bristles of the cup to clean it deeply. It is quite easy to use and useful because it cleans quickly.


You should check your canine’s paws periodically, at least every 2 days to make sure he has no wounds.

I check my dog every time we get home after a walk and I always wash her paws since there is a lot of dirt on the street and I can see the pads better. I recommend you do this as well; it will prevent your pet from catching an infection that you didn’t realize.