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Dog Paw Care

Dog Paw Care is More Important Than You May Think!

human hand holding a large dog's pawLet’s face it- dog paw care really isn’t on our radar screen most of the time.

Most of us forget about the importance of trimming dog nails, and take a “catch as catch can” approach caring for dog’s paws unless our dogs are suffering with paw issues. But dog paw health is really pretty significant to a dog’s well-being when you think about it….

After all:

  • What walks barefoot all day long?
  • Has four “feet,” instead of two?
  • Has 22 “toes” (a.k.a. pads)?
  • And at least 16 “toenails?” (a.k.a. claws…not to mention two additional dew claws, if they weren’t removed in puppyhood)?

Of course, the answer is your dog!

Part of a dog paw- Dog Paw Care, figure #2Can you imagine not having a foot problem or two if you didn’t cut your nails frequently and if you walked barefoot all of the time- especially in outdoor terrain?

This page is all about what to do regarding paw care for dogs. Paw health problems will be kept in check with some routine maintenance (trimming nails regularly, keeping fur on the paws trimmed), and watching out for problematic factors in the outside environment (weather, rough or hot terrain, snow, ice, salt).

If you are wondering what the different parts are in the dog paw photo above, here is the key:
A. claws
B. digital pads (“toes” – for bearing weight)
C. metacarpal pad (the largest pad)
D. dew claw (many dogs have these removed at an early age)
E. carpal pad (this provides additional traction when descending slopes or ramps).

With proper paw care, your dogs will only have a paw health problem when they gets bit by an insect (like the Weimeraner pictured here below) or has some other unforeseen accident. Let’s first look at what we can do in terms of preventative paw care for dogs.

Paw Health – Preventing Paw Injuries

Dog with paw bandaged- Dog Paw Care, Figure #3.Most of our dogs love the outdoor world, and we love to share it with them through daily walks, trips to the park, hikes, and sporting activities. But the outdoor world can be rough on our dogs’ paws and there are some things to keep in mind.

Prevent paw injuries, by watching the ground that your dog is walking over.Take care to watch areas where thorns and sand spurs are prevalent. Even gravel can present a problem if small bits of rock or debris become lodged between the pads.

During hot times of the year, be careful of the sizzling pavement or asphalt that your dog must sometimes walk on. Many dogs have sensitive pads, but can’t figure out how to get away from the hot sidewalk if not offered a choice. Try to walk them in areas where they can walk on a cooler surface if their paws begin to become sensitive to the hot pavement.

Dog paw boots are also available to protect your dog’s feet and can be very helpful both when pavement is hot in the summer, as well as give protection from dryness caused by the salt used on icy roads and walkways.

Trimming Dog Nails

Trimming dog's nails is part of good dog paw care. This photo shows the importance of watching out for the nail quick.When trimming dog nails, it is very important to be able to identify the nail quick, the blood vessels and nerve inside the nail. If clipped by mistake, you will create a great deal of pain and it will bleed profusely. Many dogs who have had their nail quick clipped by mistake in the past with be leery of all paw care in the future, fearing another painful episode, so please take care when trimming your dog’s nails to work slowly and carefully.

We have a full page devoted to dog nail care that includes detailed instructions on trimming dog nails.

Dog paw care- trimming the fur between pads on the bottom of the paw This is especially helpful during icy months.In winter months, there are many potential paw health risks to avoid. Snow and ice can actually increase the risk of small rocks and other debris to become stuck to the ice and lodge between the pads, especially if your dogs have furry feet and the extra hair has not been trimmed well between the pads.

As a precautionary measure to prevent potential paw injuries, you can use small-bladed scissors to carefully trim the hair on the bottom of the paw, especially between the pads, or can hire a professional groomer to take care of it for you.

Salves and balms are also available that can help you care for your dogs’ paw soreness, dryness or cracking and promote healing.

By paying attention to a few minor details, your dogs will be sure to have “happy feet” for a long time to come!

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