Carpal Dog Paw Injury

As pet parents, it’s our duty to keep our pets happy and healthy each and every day. Of course that extends to paw care. You already know how to keep your dog’s paws in great shape, but how should you handle injuries? Even though most people don’t know as much about carpal dog paw injuries, we’re here to help you learn more.

What is the Carpal Pad?

When you look at your dog’s paw, you can see the pads on the front paws, but you’ll also notice this little pad a little ways up the wrist. That’s the carpal pad, also known as the “stopper pad,” and even though it doesn’t look like your dog is using it at all, it’s actually quite useful. Like the other pads on your dog’s foot, it’s made of thick layers of fat with connective tissue. The only difference is that there’s no associated nail.

What is its Purpose? How Does it Function?

To put it simply, the carpal pad acts as a sort of braking system for your pooch to stop your dog and help them get through steep or slippery areas. Just like we need all our toes for good balance, the carpal pad helps the dog balance when the terrain is odd. The thickness of the pad works the same as the other pads on your dog’s feet, keeping them safe even on rough terrain.

Don’t be concerned if you can’t see this important pad working in action though! There’s only a brief moment when the pad even makes contact with the ground when your dog is running around. When your dog touches their front paws down, if they decide to make a quick turn or stop suddenly, the carpal pad and the associated dewclaw provide the extra traction necessary. When your dog stops suddenly, it works as a braking device to help them out.

Ways To Tell If Your Dog Has An Injury

Sometimes we can’t tell if our dog is injured right away. Especially when it comes to the paws, you might not notice immediately when they step in something or hurt themselves. It’s easy to tell if your dog is injured however if they’re limping or keeping their foot lifted when standing up normally. If they’re licking a lot or notice redness or bleeding, that’s a sure sign something is wrong too.

Injuries and Conditions

There are some common injuries that your dog may run into when they’re out and about. So that you can better treat them, let’s see some of the more common ones.

Cuts and Punctures

Sometimes your dog can cut their paw on something when they’re frolicking around. They can also get something stuck in their paw when in an unfamiliar area.

Burns and Cold

If you live in a hot area especially, you’ll have to be careful with your pup. Walking over hot ground or chemicals can burn or blister your dog’s paw. Winter is just as tough too, since the cold snow and ice can sometimes cause chapping and cracking. Rock salt can even cause sores, infections, or blistering, just like chemicals.

Grass Seeds

Simple grass seeds can get lodged in between paws too. If they’re not removed, they can cause infections, which is why you’ve got to keep the fur in your dog’s toes trimmed and check for those seeds.


Just like humans who have allergies, dogs who are dealing with allergies can get itchy and inflamed skin. Your dog will lick their paw to try and stop itching, but often they just make the irritation worse.

Auto-immune Disease

If your dog is dealing with internal issues like an auto-immune disease, their antibodies aren’t working properly. Healthy cells are being attacked, which can cause skin and paws to blister, crack, flake, or ulcer.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Your dog needs a healthy diet so that they get all the vitamins and minerals they need to keep healthy. A deficiency can cause poor skin conditions that affect the paws too.

Treatment (Advice If Your Dog Is Injured)

You’ve noticed that your dog’s paw is injured, so now what do you do? Well it depends on the illness, but there are some steps you can follow to get started:

  • Inspect the paw for any obvious injury, blood, splinters, or broken claws
  • Fill a bucket with clean lukewarm water and wash the injured paw. Remove any debris stuck and use tweezers if you can
  • Disinfect the paw with a diluted antiseptic to help clean. Then disinfect again with betadine by soaking a cotton ball in it and carefully swabbing the area
  • If there is bleeding, stop it with a clean cloth or bandage. Apply some pressure until the bleeding stops
  • Buy some antiseptic cream for the problem area to prevent infections. Getting something like Neosporin or Vetericyn will be safe too in case your dog licks it
  • Wrap up the paw for protection to provide more cushioning. All you need is some self-adhesive bandages so your dog can’t get them off. Change the bandage daily until the paw is healed
  • Try a deterrent like bitter apple spray if they chew on bandages, or a collar in worse cases. If you’re helping your dog heal hot paws, cool their paws with cold water or a wrapped ice pack. Severe burns should be taken to the vet, along with any injury that won’t stop bleeding or is too large for you to handle.


Despite how little we see them use it, the carpal pad is an important part of your dog’s anatomy. It helps them stop and slow down, so if you’re dealing with carpal paw injuries or other injuries on your dog’s paw, it’s best to treat them as soon as possible. Remember though that if any injury is too big, your vet is the best person to help.

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