Foot Pad Injuries and Treatment

Our brittanys are hard charging dog all year long, but during hunting season, we notice it even more. Their hunting drive is so strong, they often come out of  the field with injuries.

We often encounter briar and cocklebur patches, and the dogs don’t hesitate when they scent a bird or are on a retrieve. Paw pad injuries are not as common as you would think, but they do happen. So you notice your hunting dog limping in the field, what do you do?

First inspect the foot and pad. Is there a visible abrasion or puncture wound? Be sure to check the webbed skin between their pads. Thorns and burs in that area can be hard to find, and left alone can turn into a big problem. Here’s the steps we follow for pad injuries.

  • Rinse the foot and pad with clean water to remove any debris or foreign objects (dirt, rocks, glass, metal, etc.)
  • Remove any thorns or burs you find
  • Rinse with Betadine or similar antiseptic
  • Apply antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage the foot
  • Rest your dog
  • Evaluate the need for further veterinary treatment

During the course of treatment, we may also use a Betadine or epsom salt soak. It’s a good time to inspect the healing progress and our brittanys don’t seem to mind them.

You’ll need to wrap the entire foot to ensure the bandage stays in place. But the most important thing you can do for your dog is give him time to heal. Pad injuries often lead to limping and prolonged limping can lead to other musculoskeletal issues.

Preventing pad injuries isn’t easy. Dog boots get mixed reviews – some say the protect dog’s feet and prevent injuries, while others say the dog can’t feel the ground and may not draw their foot back if they step on something sharp.  We recommend regularly exposing your dogs to rough surfaces throughout the year for short periods of time. This helps the pads “toughen up” with minimal risk of injury. Ask your vet if you have any questions about suitable surfaces (fine gravel, concrete, sand, etc.)

Remember, a lame dog can’t hunt. So be sure to take care of your brittany’s feet and pads.

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