A dog’s paws are regularly forgotten by owners when it comes to his overall health; however his paws are his foundation. Not only does Fido walk on his paws; they are also essential for protection. Paw pads provide crucial insulation against heat and cold, protect tissues deep within the paw, and are shock absorbers that protect bones and joints in the feet.
All paws need care. Paws that go for runs or long walks get even more wear and tear than a dog who simply plays and goes for walks. If your dog’s paws are rough, look sore, or he is limping or favouring a foot, you need to take action immediately.
Tips for Paw Care
- Build up the length of your walks – paws need time to toughen up. Puppies in particular have very sensitive new pads.
- Take your dog for a professional dog grooming. Not only will he come out looking and feeling fabulous from head to toe; the groomer will pay attention to the paws and clip nails safely.
- Never walk your dog on extremely hot or extremely cold ground – pavement or sand – as 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 between your dog’s pads. Pebbles, tiny bits of broken glass, snags and other debris can become stuck and need to be gently removed.
- If your dog’s pads become dry and cracked, they can be very sore and even bleed and become infected. See your vet for suitable moisturiser – don’t use human products.
- If your dog has a wound on his paw, like a graze, blister or cut, apply First Aid. This includes using a gentle antibacterial wash or warm sea salt water solution. If the wound is wide, deep, or large, see your vet for proper treatment.
- Many (but not all!) dogs will love to receive a paw massage. It will not only relax him, it will also promote a better level of circulation. Rub the pads, between the pads, and between his toes.
- Keep your home and yard free of harmful debris. This includes cleaning up all broken glass with a vacuum cleaner, as well as removing very sharp pebbles and thorny weeds.
If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s paws at all, take him to the vet.