For us humans who spend a majority of our day standing on our feet, know all too well the pain our feet endure. We like to pay special attention to our feet by way of comfy shoes, pedicures, massages, creams and lotions. Your dog’s paws are regularly forgotten when it comes to his overall health. Your dog’s paws aren’t only for walking on, they are also made for protecting. His pads provide extra cushioning to help protect bones and joints from shock, provide insulation against heat and cold and protect tissues deep within the paw. Paws that go for runs or long walks get even more wear and tear than a dog who simply plays and goes for walks. All paws need special attention and care to keep your dog happy and pain free.
Here are a few things to consider when caring for your pups’ paws.
- Keep their nails in check: Make sure you regularly check your dogs’ nails. His nails should just about touch the ground when he walks. Clicking on the floor when he walks is a sign they are too long, so get out your clippers or ask your veterinarian for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly.
- Check and trim his paw hair. Try trimming the hairs on your dog’s paw on a regular basis to keep him from painful matting. Comb his hair out especially those from between the toes. Trim even with his pads.
- Exercise: Build up the length of your walks – paws need time to toughen up. Puppies in particular have very sensitive new pads. Paws may become sensitive, chaffed or cracked, particularly when starting your dog out on hikes and runs.
- Watch before you walk: On extremely hot or extremely cold days the ground – pavement or sand – will also be too hot or cold for your pups’ paws. Canine feet burn just like ours do. Blistered paws are incredibly painful. If the ground is too hot (or cold) for your bare hands or feet, it’s too hot for your dog. Avoid walking your dog on grass with thorns, bindies, etc. Be aware of conditions as you walk and avoid sharp rocks, pebbles, broken glass, anthills, etc.
- Clean in-between the pads: Foreign objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between toes for stones, small bits of broken glass and other debris. These items can usually be removed with a pair of tweezers.
- Moisturise: A dog’s pads can become cracked and dry. Ask your veterinarian for a good pad moisturizer and use as directed. Avoid human hand moisturizer, as this can soften the pads and lead to injury.
- Paw Massage: If your furry friend will let you, grab his paws and give him a paw massage. Not only will it relax your dog but it will promote better circulation. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rub between each toe.
- Apply First Aid: It’s not unusual for dogs to suffer cuts or other wounds from accidentally stepping on glass, debris or other objects. Wounds that are smaller than a half inch in diameter can be cleaned with an antibacterial wash and covered with an appropriate wound cover. For deeper paw cuts, see the vet for treatment.
- Practice Prevention: To reduce the risk of injury, keep your home and yard clear of sharp and pointy objects. This includes cleaning up all broken glass with a vacuum cleaner, as well as removing very sharp pebbles and thorny weeds. Be conscious to avoid such hazards when walking your dog. And keep in mind-if you wouldn’t like to walk on it barefoot, neither will your dog!