By Laurie Darroch
A dog’s paws may seem callused and tough, and capable of withstanding the harshest terrain, but they need to be cared for like any other part of a dog’s body. Prevention is also key in keeping your dog’s paws, toes and pads in good health. Here are five reasons you will want to examine your dog’s paws.
A dog’s paws are subject to damage caused by the changes of the seasons. The extreme cold of winter weather, dry home interiors and salt used to melt ice and snow on sidewalks and roads can all damage a dog’s feet.
During the heat of the summer, the hot ground, beach sand and chemicals used in the garden can get in the pads and paws and cause injuries or discomfort.
Cuts, Scrapes and Other Injuries
Small injuries can go from a simple cut to a major infection if the injury is not cleaned and treated. Watch for oozing, bleeding, raw sores, and calluses that have developed and change the way your dog’s nails grow or how their feet function.
Dogs that constantly chew at their paws can develop yeast infections that make their feet itch, which in turn makes them chew and agitate the irritation further.
Dogs travel through every kind of terrain inside and outside. Because they do not usually wear foot coverings, their paws and the fur between the toes attract all types of foreign matter than can get imbedded in the skin, the fur, or between the toes. Bits of wood, small pebbles, splinters and other foreign matter can stay on your dog’s feet and irritate them. The longer the debris stays, the more chance it can injure the dog even if there is no initial injury.
Besides the possible damage externally from foreign matter and debris, a dog chewing their paws can ingest the debris and possible poisons from gardening maintenance and chemicals.
If your dog has a lot of fur on their feet between their toes that gets matted easily or traps bugs, sticks, rocks or anything else, keeping the fur trimmed and groomed will help maintain healthy paws. Check the paw fur regularly for anything that can hurt your dog’s feet, and don’t forget to offer a CANIDAE biscuit as a reward for being good while you mess with his feet.
Prevention and Signs of Distress
During grooming, check the paws and pads of your dog’s feet carefully. Examine between the toes as well as the surface of the paws for cracks, cuts, foot injuries or any foreign matter that could cause problems.
Watch for limping, favoring one foot, walking gingerly, excessive licking of feet or toes, or biting at the fur between their toes. Sometimes simple changes in behavior such as these are obvious clues that something is uncomfortable or painful.
For extremes of weather, consider buying booties for your dog to help prevent seasonal injuries from occurring in the first place. Keep their feet clean, toenails trimmed, and check paws, pads, fur and toes after outdoor excursions, particularly in areas that have sharp objects or excessive debris.
If your dog has a severe injury, or one that is not healing or that you cannot treat, take them to the vet. They will be able to treat the injury, remove imbedded foreign matter, and give you needed medication. They may also give you tips on how to keep your dog’s feet and pads healthy.
You check your own feet on occasion and take care of things like dry skin or sore areas. In spite of the fact that dogs naturally go without covering their feet, they need the same care and protection. Your dog’s paws need loving care too!
Top photo by Allison Matherly/Flickr
Bottom photo by Chris Pigeon/Flickr
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch