Pets lick their wounds and never more so than when the injury is to the pad. Pads are prone to injury from broken glass and sharp metal. (Tiny shards of glass can penetrate, causing no visible wound but only lameness and licking.) A cat’s front paws get bitten when it swipes at another cat. In dry weather, grass seeds (awns) get captured in the hair between a dog’s pads or between the toes. Lameness and licking occur once the seed has pierced the skin.
Cuts and bites are self-evident while penetrating wounds may be more difficult to diagnose if there is not as yet any tissue reaction. We flush and clean wounds and may or may not choose to use systemic antibiotics. Some pad tears need surgical repair while others are allowed to heal on their own by granulation. Living (pink) tissue heals in a week. The thick cornified layer of the pad on top of living tissue takes six weeks to be replaced. We keep foot bandages to a minimum. Bandaging increases the risk of infection while exposure to air dries wounds and reduces infection. This means that some pets should wear Elizabethan collars to minimise damage from licking while others benefit from a sock being pulled over the paw to keep it clean. Paw boots are useful for a few hours a day when dogs go outdoors.