Paw Health: How To Keep Your Dog’s Paws In Top Shape
Healthy paws mean a happy dog. They allow mobility, protection and temperature control, making them a hugely important part of your dog’s anatomy. So how do you keep your pup’s toes feeling top notch?
Fetch, running, digging, chasing squirrels - a dog’s to-do list. But all of these favored activities are thanks to having healthy paws, which makes them a critical part of a dog’s overall wellbeing.
These incredibly intricate structures are made of protective tendons and connective tissues, with the pads consisting of shock absorbing fats and elastic fibers. A dog’s pads are also adept at sharing information, telling their canine brain what kind of surface they are walking on and when to regulate their body temperature.
So to make dog paw health a priority, here are some things to look out for, and ways to make these keep those twinkle toes in tip top condition.
Paw Pad Maintenance
Making it a habit to check your dog’s paw pads is a great way to ensure they remain in top condition. Either wait until your dog is relaxed or asleep, then gently spread their toes apart and have a good look. Inspect the sides, between the toes and in the furry areas.
Things to look out for include:
Any injuries or cuts
Foreign objects like stones
Swelling or discoloration
Any unusual odors
Bites or scratches
Dryness or cracked pads
You can watch to see if your dog shows any signs that they are in pain or have tenderness when examining their foot. Other indicators of paws needing a closer look is often an excess licking of the paws and feet or discomfort when walking.
Regular grooming is an ideal way to prevent any matting between your dog’s toes. These buildups of hair can cause walking to become painful for your pooch, and lead to excessive chewing or licking too. Dogs with less hair can be groomed by hand or with a small, gentle brush, whilst our long-fur friends might benefit from a trim at the groomers.
Summer Paw Care
In hot weather, it’s a good idea to remember that a paw pad is like a human hand. So if it feels too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s toes!
This also means it’s probably going to be too hot to safely exercise your dog too, so it's better to wait for the cooler time of the day like early morning or evening. Walking on grass or in shady areas is usually easier on their pads.
After a summer walk is a good time to check paws for any signs of burns, insect bites or any seedlings that have stowed away in the fur. Some dogs may also have seasonal allergies that can lead to swollen paws, so wiping off after a walk is always a good idea.
Winter Paw Care
Wintery days can sometimes be tough on your dog’s paw pads too. If you’ve got snow and ice around, then any grits or melting products used can irritate sensitive paws. These products can cause pads to dry out or crack, and isn’t ideal for your dog to be licking off either!
For your own pathways, you can find pet-friendly deicers online. When out and about, try to avoid walking on treated sidewalks if possible, or give your dog an intensive foot and paw clean on your return, washing off any residue or packed ice between their toes.
Dry them thoroughly to make sure they are cosy, warm and free of any dampness, as excess moisture from frequent bathing or excess licking could lead to a bacterial or yeast infection.
Moisturising Paw Pads
If your pooch’s paws have been working hard, a little moisturizing dog paw balm can work wonders. Especially helpful and soothing for paw pads that are cracked, peeling or dry.
Avoid using human lotions and stick with products made specifically for canine paws to be on the safe side. Best to apply these after a bath or rinse, ensuring the area is nice and dry first, allowing the moisture to sink in.
A little is all you need, too much and you could send your dog skidding!
If you want to protect your dog’s feet, one of the easiest ways to do it is to use paw wax. Originally created for working sled dogs, there are now many commercially available brands that are easy to apply and offer effective protection.
These moisturizing waxes create a barrier for ice, salt, dirt, as well as reducing the chance of burns. Best applied a few minutes before you plan to head out.
Booties For Dogs
If you are into the more heavy duty hiking or adventuring with your dog, boots could be a good way to go. While some may think they look a little goofy, these handy paw protectors can be a real god send on difficult terrain or in hot weather.
Plus, if your dog has an injury, they can offer a barrier that allows your pooch to keep mobile whilst they recover.
Dog Paw First Aid
If your dog has sustained a minor cut or wound to their paw, you can apply a little first aid before you visit the vet. For a quick dog paw cut treatment, clean the wound with a pet-safe antibacterial solution, dry off if you can, then apply an antibacterial cream.
You can then create a makeshift bandage by wrapping a clean towel around the wound. If you have a bootie, wrapping this over the top is an ideal way to keep your dog from licking or causing further injury.
Any deeper cuts, or if you notice your dog is very uncomfortable or in severe pain, should always be seen by a vet as quickly as possible. After all, we want to make sure those toes are kept happy!
Have you got any other top tips for paw health?
We’d love to know.
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