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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.

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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. Dogs often lick or chew the sore area.

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. The claw may be trimmed or removed, depending on the extent of the damage.

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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

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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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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Biting
Redness
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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0 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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Ruffles

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Saint Bernard

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sores Bleeding

Hello, I have a 13 year old dog who has started developing sores on her legs. The sores bleed periodically and have spread from her back paws to the front paws in the past few days. I have been treating them with neosporin and wrapped them to stop the bleeding, but they don't heal. They also don't look infected. She has 6 sores in total on her back and front paws and one scabby looking one next to her anus.she does not lick them, but we think they might be hurting because she flinches if we touch her paws (which she does not do normally). Thank you in advance for your help

May 19, 2018

Ruffles' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without seeing Ruffles, I can't say what might be causing these sores that she is developing, but it may be a bacterial infection, a parasite, or cancer. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at her, determine what might be going on, and recommend any treatment that might be needed to help her. I hope that she is okay.

May 19, 2018

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