How to Handle Bloody Paws Like a Pro

Hopefully neither you or your rescued pup will experience bloody paws, but in the case you do, you’ll find quickly how frightening it can feel to know what to do….especially if your dog only has three paws to begin with. Leena and I have been battling bloody, abscess-riddled paws since day one. And while we hate when they resurface, we’ve learned a few lessons along the way that could maybe help if you ever find yourself in this situation.


Step 1: Call your vet

Obviously give your vet a call and explain what’s going on. If it's the first time and if the wound is significant, I imagine they’ll want to see your pup so they can treat the condition and send you home with medicine and supplies for you to do it on your own.


Step 2: Soak in warm Epsom salt water

I didn’t learn of this trick until about six months in and it’s a game changer in terms of speed to recovery. Grab a bowl large enough for their paw, fill it with warm water and sprinkle some Epsom salt in. I usually go with a handful for 40 lb Leena and that seems to work well. Take your dog’s paw and gently place it in the bowl of warm water and let it sit for five minutes. The Epsom salt naturally pulls the infection to the surface. Sometimes the wound bursts in the water, and sometimes after the fact. Either way these 5 minutes are a critical part to the process.


Step 3: Let it dry

I usually carefully dry off her paw with a towel and then let it sit for a moment to air dry. I will also gently blow on it if she can tolerate it until I can see the abscess clearly. 


Step 4: Gauze and wrap

Place gauze surrounding your dog’s wound and wrap the paw with “bitter bandage” that they’ll find distasteful if they try to bite it off. I’ll sit with Leena for an additional few minutes to make her feel comfortable with her new, weird situation that’s probably quite sensitive after forcing the infection out.


Leena is prescribed Gabapentin (pain killer) and when it’s really bad, I’ll give her one or two pills masked in peanut butter and usually she’s then relaxed for the next few hours. This allows time for the wound to stay dry among the gauze and wrap and soak up any infection left. When we aren’t able to open the wound with just the Epsom salt water, often it happens a few hours later. And when it does, it’s especially important that the paw is wrapped up to catch the (sorry) bloody mess that ensues. 


I’m nothing more than a passionate dog mom who’s experienced the gamut of a very sick dog who has some first hand advice for others. Definitely contact your vet before anything and take their direction over mine. But if for some reason things aren’t working as you’d hope with your treatment plan, give this a try and fingers crossed it will. 


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