The padding, or pads, on your dog's feet serve multiple functions. They provide cushion to the bones and joints when walking, insulate against extreme weather and protect against deep tissue injury on rough terrain. While providing protection for your pooch, these pads require regular care to help keep them from becoming injured.
When grooming your pooch, don't just focus on brushing out his coat. Use this time to take a good look at his feet. Check in between each pad, removing any debris, such as small rocks, mud or other foreign objects. Use small scissors or clippers to trim away any long hair in between each pad. This helps reduce matting between the pads that can alter how your dog steps and increase the risk of injury to his pads, feet or legs. For very active dogs, consider checking the paws and pads every time they come inside. If you use chemicals to melt snow and ice in the winter, wash your dog's feet in warm water after every trip outside to remove the chemicals.
While a pedicure may conjure up images of painted nails, there is no need to add color to your pooch, unless you want to. A pooch pedicure is simply a time to focus on overall foot care. Begin checking your dog's nails. Nails should just about touch the ground when your dog walks. If the nails extend past this point, it is time for a trim. Nail clippers are available at your local pet store, but talk to your vet before trying to cut the nails yourself, as cutting too short can result in bleeding or injury. If nails are not maintained and trimmed regularly, they can curl and grow back into the pads, resulting in injury. Nails that are too long can alter how your dog walks, increasing the risk for injury to the pads, feet and legs.
Canine Foot Massages
Give your dog regular pad massages. This will not only make you your dog's best friend, but helps increase the circulation to the pads. Massage between each pad as well as the surface of the pads. For added comfort, talk to your veterinarian about moisturizer specifically designed for dogs. Rubbing in this moisturizer during a massage helps prevent the pads from drying and cracking.
Should your dog step on a sharp object, walk on a hot surface or step on chemicals, he may suffer cuts or blisters to his pads. Clean small wounds with soap and water, apply antibacterial ointment and wrap with a non-adhesive bandage. If the wound is large or bleeding profusely, consult a veterinarian immediately. If an object if lodged in one of the pads, do not attempt to remove it yourself; this may cause further injury. Seek veterinary care and allow the vet to remove the object and address the wound.
When it comes to pad care, the best care is prevention. Check your home and yard on a regular basis for sharp objects that your dog may step on. When walking through the neighborhood or local park, look out for potential pad hazards, such as sharp glass or rocks. In the hot summer months, avoid walks on asphalt surfaces or hot sand. Just like your feet burn on the hot beach sand, your dog's pads can burn as well.
By Deborah Lundin
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Keeping Dogs' Paws Healthy
ASPCA: Top 10 Paw Care Tips for Dogs
Cesar's Way: How to Recognize and Treat Foot Pad Injuries in Dogs
Pedigree: Treating Paw Pad Injuries
About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.