Given how curious, fearless, and agile they are, cats have a way of getting into things they shouldn’t. Add the fact that cats love warmth but cannot distinguish dangerous hot surfaces from safe ones, and you have a recipe for disaster in the form of a burned paw pad.
While you can’t prevent it completely, knowing how to treat a burned cat paw pad can help ease your kitty’s pain, prevent complications, and speed up the healing process.
Review the tips on what or what not to do whenever your beloved pet had burned their paw:
How to Treat a Burned Cat Paw Pad
1. Know the Signs of a Burned Paw Pad
Like many animals, cats are very good at hiding their pain. But there are some signs that your cat is in pain from a burned paw pad, including:
Look for subtle changes in behavior as well since it can take a day or two for burn damage to become visible. For instance, a normally rambunctious cat who starts hiding or becomes withdrawn may be in pain. Got a cat who loves to swat while playing? A burned paw pad may make her less likely to engage in this type of activity.
2. Identify the Type of Burn
There are three common types of burns your cat can get:
The type of burn will dictate what you need to do next. All burns need immediate medical attention, but certain types require specific first aid. Your vet will also need to know the type of burn in order to provide appropriate treatment.
3. Assess the Severity of the Burn
Just like with humans, burns in cats are classified according to their severity:
Fourth-degree burns are also possible, but they are so severe that they cause damage to tendons, muscles, and bones. These burns are rare in cats, but when they do happen, they’re life-threatening, and you need to take them to the vet ASAP.
4. Apply Appropriate First Aid
First-degree burns may be treated at home, but any burn that blisters or breaks the skin should be seen by a vet. That said, there are some things you can do to help your cat in the meantime:
5. Take Your Cat to the Vet
Despite the paw’s small surface area, severe burns can cause a cat to go into shock, dehydrate, or suffer organ damage.
Depending on the type of burn, there can also be other issues, such as chemical burns to the eyes or inhalation burns from smoke. For these reasons, it’s always best to take your cat to the vet after a burn injury, regardless of the cause or severity.
Your vet will likely give your cat pain medication and prescribe antibiotics if there’s any risk of infection. They may also need to give your cat IV fluids to prevent dehydration. More serious burns may require surgery to remove dead tissue or skin grafts to cover open wounds.
Some cats may also need oxygen therapy if they suffer from smoke inhalation, and those with chemical burns will need their eyes flushed out.
6. Observe Your Cat for Complications
Burnt paw pads can cause a number of complications in cats, even with proper treatment.
The most common one is an infection, which can cause your cat a lot of pain and may lead to sepsis if it’s not treated quickly. Look out for signs of infection, such as excessive licking, redness, swelling, or discharge from the burn site.
Cats can also develop scars or contractures as the burn heals. Scars are permanent and may cause your cat discomfort, while contractures happen when the skin around the burn heals in a way that pulls the tissue underneath tight. This can make it difficult for your cat to move their paw or use its claws and may require surgical correction.
Finally, some cats may develop behavioral problems after a burn injury. They may become more aggressive or withdrawn and may start to exhibit signs of anxiety or stress. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, talk to your vet about possible ways to help them cope.
What NOT to Do If Your Cat Has Burnt Paw Pads
Burns affect cats differently than humans. Usual interventions for a burnt hand or skin, for instance, can actually be quite dangerous and even lethal to cats.
Avoid these interventions for a cat with burnt paw pads:
While seeing your beloved cat in pain is incredibly distressful, try your best not to panic. Most cats recover well from mild to moderate burns with proper treatment. Even the most severe burns will heal properly with timely intervention.
As a pet owner, however, it’s your responsibility to be ready for anything. Be sure to keep the number of your local emergency vet clinic handy, and familiarize yourself with the signs of burn injuries in cats so you can act quickly if your cat is ever hurt.
With a little preparation, you can rest assured knowing that you’re ready to help your cat in case of an emergency.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock