Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Burned Dog Paws: Signs, Prevention & Treatment (Vet Answer)

Dr. Iulia Mihai Profile Picture

By Dr. Iulia Mihai

burned dog paw

Vet approved

Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

Written by

Dr. Iulia Mihai

DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

As the temperature outside rises, your pet’s needs also increase. You have to make sure they have enough fresh water to stay hydrated and not sit too long in the sun. Also, during a heat wave, the walks that you take with your beloved four-legged friend must be short to lower the risk of them overheating or getting painful burns on their paws. Your dog can also burn their pads when it’s cold and they are walking on ice or when they come into contact with corrosive substances, boiling water, or stripped electrical cords.
Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New

What Are Burned Dog Paws?

Dogs’ legs are generally covered in fur, but their paws are hairless. The paw pads are excellent for protecting the feet from rough surfaces. They also provide shock absorption and traction, but they are not immune to burns.

Long walks on hot ground or contact with corrosive substances are just two causes that can lead to the burning of your dog’s paw pads. Therefore, it is important to take certain safety measures when you go for a walk with your pet or to remember to cover containers with corrosive substances.

In mild cases, burns can heal on their own. Severe burns can lead to infection and loss of cushioning tissue, leaving scars on your dog’s paws.

burned dog paw
Image Credit: Badger13, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Burned Paws in Dogs?

Although the skin of the paws is quite resistant, just like the skin on the soles of our feet, it is not quite indestructible. In fact, it is easy for the skin on your dog’s paw pads to burn and cause severe pain. The clinical signs will vary depending on the source of the burn. In the case of chemical burns, the clinical signs will be immediate.

Clinical signs of burned paws in dogs may include:

  • Constant licking of the affected foot/feet
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Heat (paw is hot to the touch)
  • Lameness
  • Paws exfoliate or have blisters
  • Discharge
  • Bleeding (in the case of severe burns, when the burnt paw tissue detaches, or in the case of corrosive substances)
  • Open wounds that are susceptible to infection
  • Delayed healing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Contact the vet as soon as possible if your dog shows these clinical signs.

What Are the Causes of Burned Paws in Dogs?

Although hot asphalt is the most common cause of burned paws in dogs, other causes are possible, including:

  • Walking on freshly poured asphalt
  • Walking on hot sand
  • Walking on ice (in rare cases)
  • Making contact with hot liquids (e.g., boiling water)
  • Stepping on stripped electrical wires
  • Making contact with chemicals (acids, drain cleaner, ice melt products, paint thinners, etc.)

While dark asphalt poses more problems in terms of overheating, concrete surfaces or sand can also become too hot for your dog’s paws. The temperature of the air is not the same as the temperature of the ground. As surfaces heat up, they can reach temperatures that are not safe for your dog’s paws.

Asphalt temperatures can be up to 15.5°C (59°F) higher than air temperature (in conditions of direct sunlight, no wind, and low humidity). The temperatures that weather channels and phone apps announce are usually calculated in the shade, so you’ll need to be aware of the difference between ground temperature and air temperature when you take your dog out for a walk on hot days.

Also, very hot water, stripped electrical cables, corrosive substances, and ice can cause burns to your dog’s paws. Therefore, you must also take these causes into consideration.

australian shepherd dog and female owner are walking together
Image Credit: Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos, Shutterstock

How Do I Care for a Dog With Burned Paws?

If your dog has burned their paws, take them to the vet if the burn is severe (there are blisters, the paw is bleeding, and/or the skin peels) because there is a high risk of infection.

In the case of minor burns, when the skin is only red and swollen, here are the steps that you can take to help your dog:

  • Keep the affected paw(s) in cold water for at least 10 minutes, or use cold compresses at regular intervals. The cold water will help alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Trim the fur between your dog’s paw pads because it will slow down the healing and favor the development of bacteria.
  • Disinfect the area with betadine.
  • Apply ointments to prevent skin dehydration and for elasticity and to promote healing. You can use antibiotic ointments, calendula cream, or paw balm.
  • Use a children’s sock or a bandage to cover the affected paw when your dog goes outside.

If the burn does not improve or seems to get worse, consult a veterinarian.

person trimming dog's paw
Image Credit: BY-_-BY, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Paw Burns in Dogs

Take your dog for a walk when it is cooler outside and when the asphalt is not hot (in the morning or evening). You can also test the surface before taking your dog outside. If you can’t comfortably keep the palm of your hand on the surface for 10 seconds or more, it is too hot for your dog’s paws.

Sometimes, simply changing your dog’s walking routine is all you need to do to keep your pet’s paws safe. For example, you can choose to walk your dog on grass or soil.

Another alternative is shoes for dogs that are ideal for hot or cold surfaces. Allow your pet to adjust to these shoes before going out for a walk. Have your dog walk with them around the house without stumbling.

You can also use paw wax to protect and moisturize your pet’s paws. This provides a protective barrier against burns and keeps their paws hydrated. Moreover, these products can be applied every few days or weekly and are not toxic for pets in case they lick the product off their paws.

Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long Do Dog Paw Burns Take to Heal?

In general, minor burns heal within a week. However, severe burns will take weeks to heal completely. Secondary infections must also be taken into consideration because they can prolong the healing time. For this reason, it is crucial to take your pet to the vet immediately to prevent complications if they have severely burned their paws.

Can I Walk My Dog if They Have a Sore Paw?

It is not recommended to walk your dog with a sore paw because you will only cause them more pain and discomfort and delay healing. Moreover, secondary infections can set in, which can lead to severe complications. If your dog has injured their paw, give first aid and contact the veterinarian to ensure that your pet can make a full recovery.

dog's paw with bandage
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- NewConclusion

You shouldn’t walk your dog on very hot surfaces or on ice because they can burn their paws. Stripped cables, boiling water, or corrosive substances can also cause paw burns to your four-legged friend. Most of the time, the clinical signs of burnt paws include lameness, a red and swollen area, and/or persistent licking of the affected paw. In severe cases, blisters, open wounds, bleeding, and secondary skin infections may also occur. In this situation, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. For minor burns, keep your dog’s paw in cold water for 10 minutes, apply emollient ointments, and protect the affected paw when taking your dog for a walk.

Featured Image Credit: SingjaiStocker, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database