It is likely that at one time or another we have had a splinter in the skin of our hand. Splinters are often slivers of wood, but can also be of metal or of broken glass. The skin where the splinter is lodged feels tender or even painful to the touch. Occasionally, the splinter may cause an infection so that the skin swells and may exude a discharge of pus or blood.

Just as humans can pick up splinters, likewise dogs can get splinters under their skin too. Since dogs effectively walk “bare foot” all the time, they are far more likely to tread on something which may become lodged in the skin of their paws. When out walking with your dog, be aware of hazards such as broken glass, wood chips, and thorns. If your dog’s attention is focused on the ball you have thrown, he will probably not be paying much attention to what he is running over with his feet. Rather more painfully, dogs can suffer from splinters in their mouths, often in the form of bone shards. A dog gnawing on a bone can accidentally pick up a splinter which may lodge itself in his mouth.

If you notice your dog limping, this may be an indication of a splinter in his paw. Similarly, if you see him pawing at his mouth, he may well be trying to remove a splinter which is causing him irritation or pain. No matter where they are located, splinters which are not removed can result in your dog developing an infection. He will probably chew and scratch at the offending area, licking and gnawing in an effort to ease his discomfort.

If the end of the splinter is visible through the skin, it can probably be removed quite quickly and painlessly. Taking care not to push the splinter further into the wound, trim a little of the hair around the splinter, if necessary. Using sterilized, quality tweezers from your homemade doggy first aid kit, gently but firmly grasp the tip of the splinter and pull the splinter out of the skin. Take some antiseptic cleaner, and using a soft applicator such as cotton wool, apply to the skin surrounding the splinter.

If the tip of the splinter is not poking through the skin, then removal will be slightly more tricky. You may need a friend or family member to help in holding your dog still whilst you extract the splinter. Using a sterilized needle, gently pry the end of the splinter up so that the tip sticks through the skin. Then, as above, use tweezers to pull the splinter out of the wound. Follow with antiseptic cleaner, to avoid infection.

If you are unable to extract the splinter yourself without causing your dog discomfort, then it is best to seek the assistance of your veterinarian who should be able to complete the procedure for you.