Dogs Get Rug Burn Too? Here’s How to Treat It

a dog laying down with a close-up paw

Playtime with your dog is one of its favorite times of day. Long walks with your dog can be fun activities that promote a healthy lifestyle for both you and your pup; unfortunately, those long walks are taxing on your dog’s paw pads (which act like a human’s heel in a way; to provide weight distribution and extra padding for walking and jumping around), and can cause rug burn.

Wait—dogs can get rug burn?

Yup, and it's pretty common too, so rest assured you're not alone in this predicament. 

Rugburns often happen due to a harsh friction on skin, and your dog’s paw pads are always exposed to the elements. So if you were on that walk for too long or if it was a bit too hot outside while you were out, you might want to make sure your furry friend didn’t get rug burn. If you do suspect your dog has rug burn, you will need to assess the injury. 

That leaves the question; why and how do dogs get rug burn? What can be done to treat it? Here are some tips on how to spot, treat, and care for rug burns in your dog.

a medium sized yellow dog with a bandage on it's right paw
Be sure to care for your dog’s rug burns the moment you notice them. Image courtesy of Pexels.

What exactly is a rug burn?

We know what it means for us humans, but what does it mean for our dogs? 


So, what exactly is a rug burn?

According to the National Library of Medicine, rug burns are defined as the combination of an abrasion and a heat burn. Hard friction on the skin with another surface eventually produces heat, which causes redness and irritation on the surface of the skin, as well as welting in more extreme cases.

Rug burns are very common and for the most part won’t do incredible amounts of damage to your dog, but one still should tread with caution when dealing with such an injury; while rug burns are common and usually harmless, there are instances they can be more serious. 

Regardless of severity, you should still check them out–if a dog’s skin dies from a rug burn then it’s dead for good, so it’s important to be able to spot the type of burn you’re dealing with and get it taken care of.

Spotting a rug burn

Now that we know what rug burn is, what does it look like? When it comes to assessing an injury, it’s important to note differences between injuries–for example, a friction burn will not always have the same route of treatment as a cold burn–so make sure first you know the source of the injury.

Ways dogs get rug burns

Rug burns in humans typically occur as a result of road accidents, sports injuries, or home accidents involving friction. Dogs develop rug burn through similar means, though your pooch is more likely to get a rug burn from walking on concrete on a hot day rather than getting scraped by a treadmill. 

Other ways dogs get rug burns

Dogs can get rug burn in many other ways too. Here are a few:

  1. Harsh chemicals
  2. Running on turf
  3. Coming to a halt while moving
a person walking a large white dog down the street
Walking on the hot concrete may burn your dog’s paws, so it’s best to be careful when walking on a hot day. Image courtesy of Pixabay.


Some telltale signs your dog may be suffering from a rug burn are vocalization (whimpering/trying to get owners attention), limping, licking the affected area, irritated area (red, blistering), and unusual warmness in the affected area. 

If the injury is more than an inch long, it might be time for your dog to see a veterinarian.

Rhodes to Safety recommends the SCALD method; this is a tool to help you recognize the severity of a burn.


  • S—size: assessing the size of the burn will help to identify the surface area affected that the burn occurred based on the size of the dog.
  • C—cause: Looking for the cause of the burn is important is making sure it doesn’t happen again. Identifying the cause will be able to point you, the owner, in the right direction of treatment; for example, a chemical burn requires different care than a burn from hot concrete.
  • A—age—Depending on the age of the dog, their skin may have less elasticity (senior dogs) or growing (puppies), so age can give insight on a potential outcome and effects on your dog’s skin.
  • L—location: The areas that experience friction most are the muzzle, eyes, nose, throat, paw pads, ribcage, and genitals (link).  Essentially, the exposed area of the dog will be subject to more pain if hurt by rug burn, and will cause irritation.
  • D–depth: If the rug burn is deep, there will be more maintenance required to treat the burn; you may have to take your dog to the emergency vet if the abrasion is too deep, filled with pus and/or irritated. Even if it looks mild, if the abrasion is wet and bleeding, you should go to the vet’s office immediately.

an old brown dog with grey fur on its face
Age affects skin elasticity in your dog, so make sure to keep their paw pads healthy. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Treating A Rug Burn

Now that you know how to spot a rug burn, you need to treat the wound to ease whatever pain the dog might be in and promote healing.

As mentioned earlier a dog’s paw pads (or ‘toe beans', as some humans affectionately call them) exist to provide a cushion for pressure and weight distribution for the dog, as well as protection from the floor beneath them.

The skin will be inflamed and warm to the touch when burnt, so you will need to run cold water under the wound until the dog’s paw feels cold.  It is recommended to do this for about 10 minutes, but you should wait until the dog’s paw cools down.

After this, apply a wound care spray to help heal the abrasion.

FaunaCare Silver Spray

In more milder cases of blistering, applying an ice pack onto the burn can reduce irritation and get your dog back on its paws in no time.

In more severe cases, where the wound is oozing pus and blood, apply a wet cloth to the wound and drive to the emergency vet immediately. There they will further inspect and treat the wound. 


Other types of burns

Other types of burns that are similar to rugburns include cold burns, which usually result from walking on cold terrains; electric burns, which occur when exposed directly to electricity; hot burns, such as a sunburn or direct exposure to strong heat; and chemical burns, which result from exposure to chemicals on the dog’s skin. 

There are different ways to treat these burns, which includes prevention and protection (cold burns) as well as cooling down heat burns. In case of any extremes, take your dog to the vet immediately in an emergency.

To learn about ways to treat other common injuries in dogs, check out our post on How to Treat 3 of the most Common Injuries in Dogs.

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