It is very common for dogs to get thorns or other sharp objects stuck in their paw when out on a walk or in the garden. If you notice your dog go acutely lame, not bear any weight at all on one leg or start chewing at his paw, then this is the most likely cause.
A thorn in your dog's pad can be very painful and he may be upset, so approach him calmly and give him a fuss for a few moments to calm him down before having a look at his foot. If possible, have someone else hold him whilst you look for the thorn. If the thorn is not immediately obvious in one of the pads then look between them as well as the toes as it could be embedded here too. Use a torch or light on your phone to help locate the thorn.
Most small thorns can be pulled out there and then without the need for further treatment. However a large thorn or other sharp object should be pulled out with a pair of sterile tweezers or forceps - simply grasp the thorn as close to your dog's skin as possible and pull out, ensuring you do not leave any behind. Once removed, clean the area with an antibacterial solution such as dilute hibiscrub. Bandaging the foot is not usually necessary though you can apply one if the wound is large or bleeding.
Monitor your dog for any signs of infection in the paw for a week or so afterwards. If there is any heat, swelling, pain or discharge then you should contact your vet. Similarly, if the end of the thorn breaks off in the paw and you cannot remove it or you suspect it could be in a joint then you should see your vet as soon as possible.
Written by: Dr. Sophie Meers BVSc MRCVS