A dog’s paws are very sturdy but they still need some tender love and care! Here are a few cares to keep your pooch’s paws healthy.
Paws are a very essential part of a dog’s body as dogs are digitigrade animals, this means that the weight bearing part of their limbs is their paws. The paw consists of the foot pad or paw pad and nails or claws. The paw pads act as an insulator from extremely cold weather, they act as a cushion and prevent the joints and bones from shock as they walk, and also protect the deep tissues within the paw. The paw pad is the toughest region of canine skin and provides friction as the dog walks. Dogs are known to perspire through their paw pads. They also have scent glands located at the bottom of their feet so they can be sensed by other dogs. The claws or nails help the dog to dig and provide stability to the feet. Dogs are constantly running, jumping, walking and playing hence their paws are prone to damage, infection and injuries.
Here are a few measures to ensure you keep your pooches’ paws protected and well-care:
Start early: A lot of dogs are very sensitive when it comes to touching their paws or cutting their nails. It is essential to de-sensitise the paws from the beginning to ensure that they can be well taken care of.
Nail care: It is very important to take proper care of your dog’s nails. Always ensure they are properly trimmed and filed. Do not forget to attend to the dew claw. A dew claw is the 5th digit on a dog’s foot, which does not come in contact with the ground. It is advisable to get the nails trimmed from a professional, as over cutting may lead the quick (bundle of nerve and blood vessel in the nail) to rupture and make the nail bleed.
Hair in and around the paw: It is essential to trim the hair from a dog’s paw pad. While they walk, all the dirt collects in the under pad hair and causes unwanted matting of the hair. Also ticks collect and cause discomfort to the dog. Once the extra hair is trimmed, especially for long haired breeds, it is easy to keep the paw pad clean and pest and matt free.
Moisturise: On a weekly basis ensure you moisturisze your pet’s foot pad in order to repair and restore vitality to foot pads exposed to snow, ice, rough terrains and heat. Many pet foot care balms are available. Do not use human products on your pets.
Bathing tips: While bathing your dog, thoroughly wash the feet, between the digits and between the under pad and digits as well. On completion of the bath, dry the paw completely, and if needed, apply a small quantity of antiseptic powder to keep them infection and bacteria free.
Winter care: The paw pad does act as an insulator, but extremely cold weather and snow can cause the paw pad to crack. To avoid the bitter cold from getting to your dogs paws, get them habituated to booties in the cold.
Summer care: During the summer, the ground gets very hot. Walking your dog on this hot ground can cause the paw pads to get burnt. The dog may suffer severe or minor burns, if so, do consult a vet. To avoid this, avoid walking your pet during the afternoon and walk them during cooler times in the day. Also wash their feet with cool water once they return from a walk and dry them.
Monsoon care: A lot of dogs love playing in the rain; do not stop them, just take a little extra care to ensure their paws stay healthy. Make sure you thoroughly wash their paws once they return from the rain and dry them thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean between the toes as dirt and bacteria lodge themselves in the toe web. Dampness between the toes can cause soreness and infection, hence ensure they are always dry. Rubber booties can be used to prevent dampness in the feet.
Foot pad injuries: Rough concrete surfaces can cause cuts, abrasions, ulcers to the paw pad, resulting in limping, excessive licking, bleeding and soreness. A mild injury can be treated at home by gently rinsing the wound and applying an antiseptic after drying.
Else, consult a vet immediately before it becomes worse.
By following these simple instructions you can keep your pet’s paws healthy and clean, hence ensuring your dog’s well being.
(Lokashi Aggarwal is a certified pet groomer who runs Pawfect – The Pet Salon and Spa in Mumbai).