Burnt Dog Paws: Why it Happens and What to Do

Filed in Dog Health on September 14, 2021

Burnt Dog Paws Why it Happens and What to Do

Burnt dog paws are a common injury in dogs and can be quite uncomfortable for your pet.

Your dog’s paw is made up of several cushioned surfaces of skin known as paw pads. The term burnt dog paw is used to refer to injury to these paw pads. While paw pads are made of tough skin, they are still susceptible to damage.

There are many different causes of burnt dog paws, including exposure to hot surfaces and chemical irritants. Just like humans, the severity of a burn can vary greatly, and appropriate medical care is essential.

In this article, I will discuss the many causes of burnt dog paws. You will learn how to identify a paw pad burn, provide the necessary first aid, and when to see the veterinarian. In addition, I will also offer some tips on how to avoid burns in the future. Note: this article is more general in nature and should not be taken as advice for your pet’s specific situation.

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Causes of Burnt Dog Paws

Although paw pads are composed of callous skin, they are still susceptible to burns like any other part of the body. Some of the many causes of paw pad burns include fire, hot surfaces, and chemical irritants.

Dogs who experience electrocution after chewing on electrical wires commonly suffer burnt paw pads along with other injuries. Below is some more detail on the most common causes of paw pad burns.

• Walking on Hot Surfaces

walking on a hot pavement

Hot surfaces are the most common cause of paw pad burns in dogs. During the hot summer months, concrete and sidewalks can get extremely hot. When dealing with hot surfaces, the burn may happen as soon as your pet makes contact.

However, in most cases, it happens after prolonged exposure. When your dog’s excitement level is up, they may not show signs of discomfort right away. Often, dog owners don’t notice anything is wrong until the walk or playtime is over.

• Ice Melt Chemicals

Chemical burns to paw pads typically increase during the winter months when dogs have more contact with chemicals used to melt ice off roads and sidewalks.

During a casual neighborhood stroll or walk down the driveway, these chemicals can build up and start to burn your pet’s paws. If not properly washed off, the chemicals will continue to do damage even after your dog is off the sidewalk.

• Fertilizer or Other Yard Treatments

Another common environmental concern for paw pads is fertilizers. If you use fertilizer or chemicals of any kind on your yard, it’s best to keep your pet off the lawn for several hours after.

You should also avoid letting your dog walk on any grass where you are unsure if it has been treated with fertilizer or other chemical substances.

• Household Cleaners

Unfortunately, the outdoors are not the only place your pet may run into issues with harmful substances. Numerous household cleaners contain chemicals that can cause chemical burns to your pet’s paw pads or other body parts.

The most common household cleaners that pose this risk are bleach and drain cleaners.

If you are using these cleaners in your house, make sure you keep your dog away during the cleaning process. Avoid using harsh chemicals in areas that your pet frequents.

How to Identify Burnt Dog Paws

red dog foot pad

The signs of a burnt paw pad will vary with severity, but there are some general signs that you can look for. Pay attention to any signs of foot discomfort. This will include:

  • Limping
  • Vocalizing
  • Biting or licking of feet

Your dog may express their discomfort immediately, or it may take some time to develop. As soon as you notice any sign of pain, take a closer look at your dog’s paws.

If you know that your dog has been exposed to something that could result in a burn, a quick exam of the feet is always a good idea.

There can be visible damage even if your dog is not showing any signs of pain. While examining your dog, look for the following:

  • Reddening of the paw pad
  • Blistering
  • Raw skin
  • Separation of the paw pad

Blistering is often the easiest sign of paw pad burns for owners to identify. Blisters can develop quickly. Once they pop, you may notice raw skin or oozing liquid.

Open blisters can be extremely painful for your pet and pose a potential risk for infection. Likewise, any raw skin or separated paw pads can be a magnet for bacteria.

How to Treat

Appropriate medical care after a burn is essential. Burns can be extremely painful, and infections can become quite serious. If the burn is mild, you may be able to treat your dog at home.

Apply cool water to your pet’s paw pads with a damp cloth or place them under running water. Try to do this for 10-15 minutes if your pet will let you. Do not apply ice to the burns! Ice can cause more injury.

After flushing your dog’s paw pads, apply a dog-safe antibacterial ointment or moisturizer to the paw pads. Dogs often try to lick at the paw pads because of the discomfort.

Licking will remove any product you’ve applied to the foot and put your pet at risk of infection. Try putting a sock on your dog’s foot or using a cone to prevent your dog from getting to their paws.

As your dog heals, it is essential to keep them off their feet as much as possible. Outdoor time should be limited and kept to soft or grassy surfaces.

Socks or dog booties may also be helpful to protect the healing paw pads and provide some additional comfort.

Providing immediate first aid to your dog is vital, and mild burns may not require additional care. However, burns can be severe and may require you to seek professional care.

When to See the Vet

If your dog has blistering, separation of the paw pad, or is experiencing severe discomfort, you must seek veterinary care immediately. If you are unsure about the severity of the burn, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian.

Rinse your dog’s paws under cool water and wrap them in a damp towel before making your way to the clinic.

When your dog arrives at the vet clinic, your veterinarian will do a full assessment and may flush the paws again. This will help clean the area and any open wounds.

Your pet will likely receive antibiotics to combat infection. These may be oral, topical, or a combination of the two.

Once your veterinarian has fully assessed the burns and provided initial treatment, they may bandage your pet’s feet. Bandages provide some extra cushion for comfort. They are also essential for preventing infection.

Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for bandage care. Some pet’s bandages can be changed at home, while others may need to return to the veterinary clinic for continued bandage care.

Avoiding Burnt Dog Paws

dog wearing yellow dog bootie

Dog wearing yellow dog booties to prevent burns.

Although accidents happen, there are some steps you can take to prevent burnt dog paws.

• Avoid Hot Surfaces

If you frequently walk your dog on pavement or sidewalks, make sure you check the temperature of the walking surface before heading out. The easiest way to do this is to test the surface with your bare hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.

•  Use Pet Safe Products for Icy Walkways

When using a deicing product around your home, consider your pet’s safety. This Safe-Paw ice melt product is non-toxic and veterinary-approved.

Another easy solution is to use cat litter. While it may not be the most effective deicing product, it does provide good traction on slippery surfaces and is safe for your pet.

If your dog lives in the city, you may not always know what chemicals your pet is coming into contact with on the roads and sidewalks.

Wipe your pet’s paws anytime you come in from outside to remove any chemical residue. If your dog spends a considerable time outdoors, consider using dog booties.

• Use Dog Booties

Just like you wear shoes to protect your feet, dog booties help protect the feet of your furry friend. Dog booties are widely available and come in a variety of sizes and styles.

They are great for dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors. Dog booties protect your dog’s feet from the elements and potentially harmful substances.

Dogs who do not spend a lot of time outdoors may have softer paw pads and are at greater risk for burns or other injuries. Dog booties are great for keeping sensitive paw pads protected.

Make sure your dog’s boots fit correctly to avoid blisters or boot rubs. Wearing shoes may be puzzling for your dog, and it may take a little time for them to adjust to their new gear.

Start by having your dog wear the boots around the house or on short walks. You can gradually increase the time in the booties as your pet gets comfortable.

Conclusion on Burnt Dog Paws

Dealing with burnt dog paws can be a bit overwhelming. Understanding what causes burns and what steps you can take to avoid them is critical, but accidents happen.

The best thing you can do for your dog is to understand what to look for and how to provide the necessary care. With the proper care, your dog should be back on their feet in no time.

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