What Do You Do if You Stepped on a Puppy’s Paw? 2 Actions Right Away

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Accidents happen sometimes, even to the most cautious of us. When we have a puppy dog or even an adult dog for the matter, it is important for us to be extra careful when interacting with them. Most of our dogs don’t weigh 200 pounds and can withstand big impacts.

If unfortunately during the course of play or if you simply did not notice your dog while walking past, what should you do if you stepped on a puppy’s paw?

Depending on the impact of the step, the consequences could be light or very severe, and you should not panic and make the wrong decision.

In this post, I will discuss the two key steps you can take to check on your dog.

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Can you break a puppy’s foot by stepping on it?

What to Do if You Accidentally Step on Your Dog

accidentally stepped on dog

Step 1: Stop moving

If you step on a puppy’s paw, you will most likely feel and hear it immediately.

The first thing you should do is stop moving. You don’t want to risk accidentally stepping on it again.

Don’t panic. The most important thing is to keep calm for both your sake and the pup’s sake.

Bend over and cuddle your puppy to reassure him or her that it is fine and make sure to use a calm and soothing voice.

It is in distress at this moment and any loud noises will worsen it.

Step 2: Make an assessment

Your dog is most likely going to yelp out loud at the moment of impact, and you need to observe it for the next few minutes.

A lot of times, it could just be an initial shock to it and not something too serious but you will need to pay attention to how it behaves right after the incident.

You can also try to apply very light pressure to the area that is affected and see how your dog responds to it. If it does not flinch or pull away, there should not be anything damaged internally.

Do not do this if it is crying or yelping. If it looks like it is in severe pain, any manipulation of your legs will only cause more discomfort.

Also, pay attention to whether your dog is able to walk and if it has a limp.

These are signs of a much more serious problem and would need a vet to assess through an x-ray.

What kinds of injuries can you cause by stepping on your dog?

In comparison to an adult, a dog is really quite little.

Most small dog breeds do not weigh more than 10 to 15 pounds, mid-sized dogs range between 20 and 50 pounds, while large dogs are typically below 100 pounds.

Can you imagine someone 2 to 10 times your size stepping on you?

In such cases, injuries can be as mild as a scratch or minor muscle sores and aches, and on the other extreme, broken bones that might not heal completely.

Doggy says, read this too: Dog’s Bones Crack When Getting Up or Moving [Causes]

What to check for if you stepped on your dog?

We’ve all been there. You’re walking, minding your own business, and all of a sudden, you feel something under your foot.

You look down and see a puppy and you have just accidentally stepped on it!

As mentioned earlier, do not panic and frighten your puppy further.

Accidentally hurting your dog happens, and now is the time to start checking if he or she is ok.

The best way to tell if your dog is injured when you accidentally step on her is to look for these signs:

  • She’s crying or whining a lot
  • She’s limping or favoring one leg
  • She’s standing with her head down and ears back
  • She seems scared and won’t come closer when you call to her

Check for the following:

  • Is there any bleeding? If so, apply pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Is there any pain or limping? If so, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible
  • Check all toes and pads for redness or swelling. If any of them are swollen or painful-looking, it’s best to see a vet right away
  • Check for any broken bones by pressing gently on each limb. If your dog winces or yelps in pain when you press a certain area, it probably has broken bones and needs veterinary care
  • Continue to observe for changes such as their bones cracking when getting up or moving around
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Can you break a puppy’s foot by stepping on it?

Yes, you certainly can. A small puppy has very small and brittle bones that can be easily snapped, especially if it experiences such a large force as a human’s weight.

You should know that not only are the legs and paws of a puppy fragile, their entire body is too!

How do you know if a puppy’s foot is broken?

Signs that your dog’s leg might be broken include intense pain, swelling at the site of the fracture, and the leg lying at an awkward angle.

If your dog is willing to walk, he won’t put any weight on a leg that’s broken, but will instead carry it above the ground.

Check out this video for more information:

Will a dog walk on a broken paw?

Do not attempt to examine your dog if he or she is in severe pain.

Even if it is not clearly in pain, manipulating broken bones or dislocated joints can cause unnecessary pain and may aggravate the injury. 

Here’s a quick tip for determining the severity of the injury: The majority of dogs will not walk with a broken leg or a dislocated joint.

A good examination is usually done by two people: one to examine the leg and one to restrain the dog.

Dogs that are in pain are known to bite people, even they care about, so be cautious.

Stop the check if it becomes too painful!

Most lame dogs should be evaluated by a veterinarian so proceed with this with extreme caution.

Doggy says, you might be interested in this too: Dog Won’t Let Me Cut Paw Hair – What To Do Now?

When should I take my puppy to the vet if I stepped on it?

Within the first 5 to 10 minutes of stepping on your puppy, you should be able to make a judgment call if you should bring it to the vet or not.

Telltale signs to watch out for include:

  • Limping
  • Change of behavior (becoming aggressive or very withdrawn)
  • Licking the affected area
  • Excessive barking and whining
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding
  • Vomiting

How to apologize to my dog when I accidentally step on its paws?

How to apologize to my dog when I accidentally step on its paws

Accidents are understood by dogs. All you have to do is watch them play together to see this. In fact, studies have shown that dogs understand emotions in fellow dogs and humans too, which is why your immediate response is important.

If you step on your dog’s paw by accident, the best thing to do is to approach it and make the normal loving sounds you make when stroking. A tasty snack or a calming treat will certainly help.

If I stepped on a paw or accidentally bump into a dog, I would say, “I’m sorry, buddy!” or something similar in a soft but cheerful voice.

I then give a pat or scratch and check for any injuries, and things usually work out perfectly.

Will there be psychological damage to my puppy?

There is a chance that there will be some lasting effects but they may be minimal or non-existent depending on the age of your puppy and how it was trained.

The first thing to remember is that puppies are not adults and they’re going through a lot of changes in their brains.

Puppies learn by association, so if they’re exposed to something scary or traumatic and then exposed to a person or place that makes them feel safe, they’ll be more likely to associate those two things together.

The best thing you can do is to prevent such an incident from happening again and ensure that you are giving it your love and proper care.

In conclusion: What if I stepped on my puppy’s paw?

Causing injury to your dog can be a traumatic event for both your pet and you, but taking a calm approach to resolving the issue is more important than overreacting to it.

I am sure that as long as you have your puppy’s well-being in mind, you will take the right steps to ensure their safety.

Hopefully, the 2 simple steps here will allay your fears and figure out what to do when you step on your dog’s paw.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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