A dog’s feet are as important as the rest of his body. His paws carry all of his weight and bring him to the places he wants to go. Taking care of his paws is part of your responsibility as a canine owner and companion.
Although your dog’s footpads are tough and hardy, they are still prone to irritants and injuries. Checking his paws should be part of his grooming routine. Here are some tips in keeping your dog’s paws healthy:
- Wash or wipe your dog’s paws with a damp cloth before bedtime or when you notice that they are dirty.
- Trim your dog’s nails with a good quality nail clipper from the pet store. Never use nail cutters meant for humans. Cut only before the quick (pinkish part of the nail) to prevent bleeding. Use styptic powder in case bleeding occurs.
- Limping, excessive licking and favoring one leg are sure signs that there is something bothering your dog with regards to his paw. Check his paws immediately.
- Use tweezers to pull out foreign objects you find in his paws like splinters, stickers, small stones, burs and foxtails. Dried mud and other dirt can also be lodged into his paws. Trim some of his paw fur if necessary.
- Wash your dog’s paws with antibacterial soap if you notice any small cuts or abrasions. You should wrap the paw for a day or two with a light bandage so no infection sets in. Make sure to clean the wound once a day. For lacerations, punctures or excessive bleeding, bring your canine pal to the vet immediately for proper medication and care. If your vet covers the paw with a bandage, make sure to change the bandage when wet. Your vet may require your dog to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking his paw. Make sure the collar is secure and not too tight. If the wound is not healing after a few days, see the vet again.
- Walking or running on the pavement or hot sand can wear your dog’s paw pads. Hot pavement can cause burns on his footpads so avoid walking him during the hottest part of the day. If you notice a red, ulcerated patch or a loose flap of footpad, clean the area with anti-bacterial wash. Cover his paw with bandage.
- Bring your dog to the vet immediately if you see any pus or other unusual medical issues with your dog’s paws. Foul smell emanating from an otherwise clean set of paws should also warrant a visit to the vet.
- Moisturize cracked footpads with special creams formulated for dogs. Never use moisturizers for humans. Ask your vet for any recommendations.
Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell their humans when they experience pain or discomfort in their paws. As a responsible dog owner, you should keenly observe your dog for signs of cuts, lacerations, pus, foreign objects, and other issues related to his paws. Discolored pads, limping, bleeding, obsessive and excessive licking of the paw are warning signs. Contact your vet for advice.
It is fun to take long walks with your dog or play with the Frisbee or his favorite toy in the park. You can only continue to do these fun activities if your dog’s paws are always healthy and injury free. Take care of your dog’s paws so you can have a doggone good time!