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What are Bleeding Paws?

While it is not unusual for dogs to have a bloody paw, it is important to understand where the blood is coming from as you try and determine whether the injury is minor or more serious. Bleeding will often happen in the pads of your dog’s paws. The pads on the bottom of your dog’s paws are thick and feel rubbery; their role is to cushion your dog’s steps and give his paws traction. In addition, your dog’s foot pads will protect his bones and joints by providing shock absorption during running and walking. Foot pads also offer insulation to your dog’s foot from very hot and very cold weather.

If your dog’s paw is bleeding, it may be due to an injury to one or more of his foot pads. As walking on the injured foot can reopen the wound, foot pad injuries can be challenging to resolve. If your dog experiences damage to his nails or nail beds, it can also be problematic. Your dog’s toenails have a blood vessel running through them; this means that if a nail break is higher than the location of the vessel, significant bleeding can occur.

Bleeding can occur in the foot pad of a dog or from the paw itself, as a result of a slice or puncture, as well as from a broken nail.

Symptoms of Bleeding Paws in Dogs

In addition to the blood, you may notice a slice or puncture in one or more of your dog’s foot pads. Whether the damage is to the footpad or the skin or nails of the dog, you may notice your dog limping, not using his injured paw and flinching when you reach for the paw to examine it.

Types 

Your dog’s paw may be bleeding due to the following:

Laceration

- This is a cut or tear in the skin or food pads of your dog; these may or may not be deep and a foreign object may be found in the skin or pad upon further examination 

Abrasion

- A part of the skin or foot pad has been scraped or worn away

Other injuries or issues that can occur in the paw or footpad include: 

  • Burns (the result of heat or chemical reactions)
  • Frostbite
  • An allergic reaction
  • Infection

Paws may bleed minimally, moderately or severely.

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Causes of Bleeding Paws in Dogs

Your dog’s foot pad or paw itself can bleed as a result of a laceration, puncture or abrasion. Bleeding can also occur as a result of a cracked or broken toenail. Conditions that your dog is exposed to can influence the state of his paws and how resistant they are to injury. For example, exposure to road salt, hot asphalt or sharp, rocky terrain can all compromise the health of the foot pad.

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Diagnosis of Bleeding Paws in Dogs

First, you will want to see if you can determine the source of the blood. Should the bleeding be severe, you will want to try and temporarily slow or stop the bleeding and get your dog to the veterinarian right away. If there is minimal bleeding, you can stop the bleeding and clean your dog’s wound with a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water. As injuries to your dog’s foot pads can be challenging to resolve, a visit to the veterinarian may be a good idea for even minor injuries. 

Your veterinarian will conduct an examination of your dog’s paw and if you observed the injury, ask you for information about what happened. You may also be asked about any other symptoms you observed as well as what you may have provided as far as first aid. During the examination, your veterinarian will look closely at your dog’s injured foot pad to determine the extent of any puncture or laceration, as well as to determine if there is anything lodged in it.

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Treatment of Bleeding Paws in Dogs

Depending on the injury, you may have conducted some first aid at home before bringing your dog to the veterinarian. Should you notice bleeding in your dog’s paw or foot pad, after stopping the bleeding by applying pressure to his wound, you can clean the foot pad or place where the injury has occurred, looking for foreign objects like glass or metal. If it is something that you can remove with tweezers easily go ahead and do so. If the item is in the paw or foot pad deeply, it is best to leave it alone and have your veterinarian remove it. 

Once your veterinarian has looked closely at your dog’s paw, should there be something in his paw or foot pad that needs to be extracted, he may choose to sedate your dog prior to removing the item. Any flaps of skin that are present will also likely be removed and if there is damage that is more than superficial, dead tissue in the surrounding area may be removed to promote healthy tissue growth. The paw will be treated, possibly with acemannan-containing hydrogel, neomycin-bacitracin-polymyxin or silver sulfadiazine cream. The paw will be bandaged, and in some cases, a splint applied to minimize pressure on the foot pad. This is important because pressure can cause the wound to reopen and that would increase the chance of infection.

If the cause of your dog’s bloody paw is a broken or cracked nail, it may require that the blood vessels be cauterized in order for the bleeding to be stopped.

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Recovery of Bleeding Paws in Dogs

The recovery from a bleeding paw or footpad will depend upon the injury. You will want to follow the recommendations of your veterinarian and attend follow up appointments as requested. 

It is a good idea to keep your eye on your dog’s paw. If you notice that his toes become swollen or you observe a foul smell or a discharge, you will want to contact your veterinarian as these can be signs of infection or a circulation problem. 

To best avoid injuries to your dog’s paw or footpad in the future, keep an eye on the areas where your dog walks and plays. Any pieces of glass, metal or other sharp objects should be removed, so that your dog does not accidentally step on them and injure himself.

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Bleeding Paws Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Olde English Bulldogge

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Twenty One Months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Bloody Toe

My bulldog has swollen and pink feet. We have been treating her feet with duoxo wipes but today I noticed she had blood coming from the top of her toe on her back paw. The toe nail itself is in tact. The skin around it is hard and red. What should I do for her?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Bulldogs are prone to skin infections and pododermatitis, or inflammation of the feet. She likely needs oral medications to help manage this, and it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, so they can examine her feet and see what might be causing the problem. It is also possible that she has a mite called Demodex, and your veterinarian can check for that. I hope that she feels better soon.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Miniature Schnauzer

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Itching Biting

My dog was licking his paw and kept on so I thought I go check it out I looked at it it was a little blood I’m trying to find out how it caused his paw to bleed

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So dogs will lick their paws so much that they will bleed. You can try to give him benadryl at 1mg per pound. If this does not help, he will need to see your vet.

Aug. 3, 2020

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German Shepherd

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German Shepherd

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Bleeding Paw

Hello, my German Shepherd injured his paw while playing fetch today. At first, there was a lot of blood! It was a Sunday and out vet is not open, so I rinsed his wound with water and applied gauze. After sitting with a compress, the bleeding slowed and nearly stopped. I do not see any debris in his pad and he is not limping. Throughout the afternoon, there was just some light bleeding so I tried to keep him still. In the evening he became more active and the blood began to pour out again! I have kept his foot bandaged, but I am worried about blood loss. I am checking his gums to make sure they stay pink, not white. I am trying to keep him still now, and my hunch is that it will heal on it's own. However, I do not want to be complacent if this is serious. I could find a 24/hour vet if I drive to a city nearby. What are your thoughts on this? Is there anything else I could do? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/bleeding-paws

June 25, 2018

German Shepherd's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If you can keep light pressure on the wound and keep him quiet until you can get your dog in to see your veterinarian, he should be fine until then. If the bleeding is not stopping even with light pressure, then he should be seen at a 24 hour clinic as soon as possible. Be careful if you leave that bandage on that it is not too tight.

June 25, 2018

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Candy

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Shih Tzu

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9 Years

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Fair severity

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No Symp

Been noticing lately that the fur around my dogs paws are getting brown almost like the color of dirty blood , looked at her nails and pads but couldn't see where it would be coming from . Was wondering what could be causing this

June 9, 2018

Candy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

A common cause for discoloration of the hair on dogs' feet is when they are licking them, as saliva will stain the hair a brownish red color. Candy may have a bacterial or fungal disease that is causing this, or she may have allergies. It would be best to make an appointment with a veterinarian and have her examined, as they can determine what the cause may be and help resolve it for her.

June 9, 2018

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Milo

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English Bulldog

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Redness
Itching
Biting
Sore Paws

The other day I noticed three small bumps on my English bulldog (3 yrs old), which I assume are bites. He is extremely itchy, red, and is continuously biting his paws. They are now so sore that he is struggling to walk on them. I have bathed him, and given him Benadryl. It has only been two days since he has broken out, but I am extremely worried. In the past he has had episodes like this as he is extremely sensitive to foods, I am just unsure whether he was allergic to whatever but him or it stems from something else. Do you have any recommendations on what I should do?

June 1, 2018

Milo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Bulldogs are prone to skin infections, allergies, and problems with their feet, specifically. Since this seems so painful for Milo, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at him and make any recommendations for treatment.

June 1, 2018

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Achillies

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German Shepherd

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18 Months

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Moderate severity

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Limping Cut Or Slice On Paw

We just noticed yesterday that our German shepherd has what looks like a a slice or cut on the bottom of his paw. I cleaned it with antibacterial soap put some antibiotic ointment and wrapped it up. Today he won't walk on it at all and doesn't want to come out of his kennel which is unusual for him. Any advice?

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Addalie

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Pit bull

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Bleeding
Bleeding Raw Paw

Hello! So my dog injured her foot while breaking out of her crate, it looks like she punctured her paw because there was a little cut in between her toes with dry blood around it. I cleaned and she was fine for a day a little limp in her walk because of it. Then the next day after being ok she chews off her bottom skin of her paw pad and then bleeding started. I've cleaned her paw but the raw skin is bleeding without pressure and bandaged up. I just don't know if thats normal for the raw paw to bleed like that as its healing.

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Quaid

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Mini Australian Shepterrier

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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Bleeding

For the past few days, my dog's dew claw has been bleeding every time I take him outside to play with him. There is snow on the ground, but that has never been a problem for him before. We keep his nails cut and he doesn't dig or do anything to necessarily hurt it. What could be causing it? What should I do about it?

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Molly

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Pit bull

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Bleeding

Our 2 year old pit bull has moderate bleeding coming from around her nails on each paw, but not every nail, that we have noticed over the last 2 days. We have her brother visiting for a few days and they've been playing, and our outside temps are in the 20s and 30s this week. She only goes outside to our fenced backyard for 10-20 minutes a couple of times a day. Could this be frostbite or from them playing, and are there things we can do to treat her paws at home before seeing a veterinarian?

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