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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Pad Burns View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

On hot summer days, asphalt roads can get as hot as 140F or more. That is plenty hot enough to fry an egg or burn your pets paws. This is common with dogs.


Dogs rarely get serious burns because their footpads are very thick and tough. Burns that take off the top layer or two of skin can be treated at home, but deeper burns need veterinary care.


Dogs can be burned simply by walking on asphalt in the summer time.


If you see pink tissue or blisters on your pet's pads, you should have your vet examine them. Cats paws are more delicate, and burns can take a long time to heal. A cat or dog whose pad doesn't improve in 2 days, or who has burned more than one pad, should be treated by a veterinarian.


  1. Put your pet's feet in cold water - The quicker you douse burns with water, the less tissue damage will result. The should be sprayed or soaked with cold water for at least 5 - 10 minutes. If your dog won't climb in the bathtub, fill a roasting pan or other low basin with water and have him stand in that. If your cat won't tolerate any water, you will have to use a compress. use a commercial cold pack or fill a washcloth with ice and hold it on the burned pad for 10 minutes.
  2. Coat tar burns with peanut butter - Burns from fresh tar or asphalt are among the most serious, not only because the temperatures can reach 35F, but also because tar sticks to the feet and keeps burning. After rinsing the paw with water, quickly slather it with peanut butter. The oil in the peanut butter is a natural solvent that removes tar and asphalt.
  3. Flood chemical burns with water - When the pads have been burned by chemicals such as road salt, a quick washing isn't enough. You will need to flood them with cool to lukewarm water for at least 20 minutes. Water that is too hot may speed up the absorption of the chemical through the skin. Water that is too cold may cause hypothermia.

    If your cat won't tolerate water, you will have to wrap him in a pillowcase with the affected foot exposed and then flood the foot with water. In a pinch, you could use a bottle of sterile saline contact lens solution to flush the affected paw pads. Try to direct the stream of liquid away from the rest of the body to keep from spreading the chemical. Don't use antibiotics or other ointments because they will trap residues of chemical next to the skin. Also, make sure your pet doesn't lick his paws. Chemical ingestion is a very serious situation.
  4. Wash the pad - Burns get infected easily, so wash the area with soap and water. An antiseptic liquid soap like Betadine Skin Cleanser is better than plain bath soap. Pat the paw dry.
  5. Apply an antibiotic ointment - Do not use any over the counter ointments containing hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone has no affect on bacteria, and (as with all steriods) it can substantially slow healing time.
  6. Cover the paw - To protect the burn, bandage it using a clean pad over the paw and a roll gauze or elastic bandage wrapped comfortably around the paw and then slightly up the leg.


Keep dogs off asphalt and concrete surfaces in the summer. Walk them in dirt or on grass only. If the tarmac is your only option due to your location, invest in some dog booties available at pet stores.


Burns usually heal from the inside out, so you don't want to seal them too completely because that will promote infection. For serious burns, veterinarians recommend bandages called wet to dry. They are applied wet, then allowed to dry in place, forming a surface that is similar to skin. They protect the burn and also prevent it from crusting over, which can interfere with healing. To make a wet to dry bandage, soak a piece of gauze in sterile saline contact lens solution, apply it to the burn, and cover it with a larger, dry gauze pad, using bandaging tape to hold everything in place. This type of bandage controls bacteria by allowing air to circulate. It should be changed twice a day for the first few days. If your pet requires a wet to dry bandage change on the wound, your vet will show you how to make it.

You don't need a wet to dry bandage for most burns. A good choice for a weepy wound is an absorbent, non-stick pad like a Telfa pad, which keeps burns clean but doesn't stick to the wound. In addition, Telfa pads absorb liquids and pull them away from the burn, allowing it to dry and heal more quickly. Burns that aren't weepy can be dressed with a plain gauze pad. Ask your vet which bandage will be best for your pet.

Apply a thin film of antibiotic or silver sulfadiazine (available from your vet) ointment on the burn every time you change the Telfa pad or bandage. Plan on changing bandages every 1 - 2 days as long as the bandage stays clean. One way to keep bandages clean and dry is to slip your pet's paw into a plastic bag when he goes outside. Be sure to remove it when he comes in.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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