Taking care of your dog's paws
Your dogs paws are his foundation. His paws are tough, but not indestructible. In constant contact with a range of surfaces leaves them predisposed to injuries, allergies and irritants. You can help keep your canine companions paws in good condition which he will be forever grateful.
Poochy Paw-di-cure: your dogs nails are designed to be worn down naturally. This means the perfect length for his nails is when they just touch the ground as he walks. If you are hearing a clicking sound as your dog walks across flooring or if they are getting snagged in carpet or between boarding, then you know its poochy pedicure time. Your local Just For Pets store will be able to recommend the type of trimmer best suited to your dog, and can demonstrate where to cut the nail.
Trim Away Extra Fuzz: especially important if you have a longer haired breed, is trimming the extra that would otherwise be worn away in a natural state. Trim the paw hair to avoid matting which can be painful. Comb the hair out from between the toes and trim at an even level with the paw pads.
Cleanliness is next to Dogliness: dogs romp around all sorts of terrain and this leaves them exposed to having foreign objects lodged in their pads and between their toes. Using your fingers or a pair of tweezers, you may find yourself removing pebbles, sharp twigs, glass and other debris.
Moisturise: exposure to the elements means your dogs paws can quickly become dry and cracked. Your local Just For Pets store will be able to recommend a dog specific cream. It is best to avoid human hand moisturiser as this will soften the pads too much and leave your dog open to potential injury.
Massage: promotes better circulation, rub between the pads on the bottom of the paw and between each toe.
Start Exercise Slow: paws need to be conditioned to exercising on different terrain. If you are looking to start a new exercise regime, start slow and let your dogs paws become accustomed to the increase in activity, if you don’t; it can lead to painful, sensitive cracked paws. If all your dog ever walks on is carpet and soft grass his paws will be aching after a hike over rocky trails, or running on pavement.
First Aid: if your dog sustains a wound smaller then a centimetre you can clean the wound with antibacterial wash and wrapped lightly in a clean bandage. Anything deeper means you should consult your veterinarian.
Summer: summer pavement or summer sand is something akin to the heat of fresh volcanic ash. Just as your feet feel the intense heat your dogs pads are just as sensitive. To prevent burns and blisters, proper paw care involves avoiding walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day, choosing instead early morning and late afternoon. Signs of burnt paw pads are blistering, red ulcerations and loose skin.
Winter: if you happen to live in the cooler climate,you know how harsh winter can be on your skin, your dog feels the same being in the open elements. Your dog can experience chapping and cracking in their paw pads. After a winter walk you may want to bath your dogs paws in warm water, and prior to walking apply Vaseline as a barrier, or wrap up their tootsies in doggie booties.
Prevention: at home, keep your garden clean of pointy debris. When out walking be conscious to avoid hazards. If you wouldn’t like to walk on it barefoot, neither will your dog.
Note: Paw pads do not heal like regular skin. If your pet has sustained anything more than a superficial abrasion it is recommended to visit your veterinarian.
Paw First Aid Kit
- Saline solution to rinse over the wound
- Iodine (diluted as per instructions)
- A bandage or cloth to place over a wound and control bleeding
- Tweezers (flat slant)
- Scissors (dull ended)
- Gauze pads
- Stretch bandage
- Bulb Syringe (to flush wounds)
- Skin and Paw Balm
- Hydrogen Peroxide (to induce vomiting, always check with vet before administering)
- Antibiotic cream