The pads are the fabric that is found at the end of the dog’s paw, which is constantly in contact with the ground and supports the entire weight of the animal during walking and running. It is very important to maintain the integrity of this area because it is the only barrier between the most sensitive tissues of the dog and the aggressive agents present in the soil. The causes of the most frequent injuries in this area, the treatment to be administered and the possible complications are illustrated below.
Causes of bearing injuries
Dog wounds are quite common, and usually, depend on three main causes:
From trauma, when the dog cuts the bearing, trampling on splinters, glasses, sharp metal objects, and other sharp elements. In these cases, the wound usually crosses the membrane, bleeds and is often deep. It normally requires stitches.
From erosion. The canine pad can undergo erosion when the animal walks for a long time on hard soils that produce high friction, for example, on volcanic or coastal rocks. The pad can get to bleed, but rarely do you have deep wounds, although they usually look rather dirty.
From burn. It can be caused by heat (for example, walking on hot asphalt) or cold (walking on frozen ground or in snow).
Not too deep cracks may appear which do not bleed. In these cases it is necessary to prevent the damage from getting worse, preventing the dog from walking on land that can further affect the affected area (eg hot asphalt, snow, ice, ice water, gravel, building debris and other materials that may be corrosive). It is also advisable to apply Vaseline, especially if the animal continues to walk these lands, for example in sled or hunting dogs.
Bearing wound care in dogs
The wound on the bearing must always be carefully cleaned with plenty of water and soap first and then with saline, repeating the operation several times. It is very important to make sure that no particles remain inside the wound.
In the case of a deep wound, it is necessary to evaluate the application of stitches to facilitate proper healing. Sometimes an antibiotic cream may also be required.
In any case, it is necessary to cover the wound and protect the pad to allow healing. The healing will be slow, as the pad tissue is not easy to heal and is exposed to continuous rubbing and pressure. In addition to wrapping, it is recommended that the dog wear a protective boot or a sock and make sure it does not tear, using, if necessary, an Elizabethan collar.
Usually, conservative management is chosen, even in cases where the injury is very serious. The doctors of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Thessaloniki, in Greece, presented the clinical case (1) of a dog that had completely lost one of the bearings. They chose to leave the wound as a second option and to apply an oral antibiotic treatment, do regular washing and bandaging and limit physical exercise. After complete healing, the animal never showed signs of lameness.
Despite the foregoing, the constant control of these wounds is important and one should always consider the possibility of debridement and drainage in case of suspected infection, as well as the use of antibiotic treatments that may be more effective.
If left untreated, the wound to the plant or the dog’s pad can cause cellulitis and osteomyelitis which can become chronic. In the case of the evolution of osteomyelitis, in the long run, it can cause fractures to the phalanges and dislocations (2). In some cases, an amputation may be necessary.
Dog wounds are frequent, often benign and require only conservative treatment. However, they are also difficult to heal wounds, being in areas that are very sensitive to the animal. It is therefore of the utmost importance to pay them adequate attention to prevent them from becoming more serious pathologies.