It's no surprise that your dog's paws take a beating every day – not only are they subject to different types of turf when the dog walks, runs or plays, but a dog also uses its paws for digging and itching. Good paw health is essential to provide adequate cushioning and insulation for the dog's feet, and there are simple steps every dog owner can take to keep their pet's paws in top condition.
- Trim Nails and Fur: A dog's nails should not make constant clicking noises as the dog walks, nor should the nails be snagging on carpets or other material. Nails should be regularly trimmed to just reach the ground, and the fur between the pads and at the edge of the foot should also be trimmed to avoid matting or snarls that could be uncomfortable.
- Clean the Paws: Every surface dogs step on could have chemicals or debris such as grit, thorns or glass that could cause discomfort or even injuries. A dog's feet should be cleaned regularly with mild pet-friendly soap, including between the toes where debris could become trapped. At the same time moisturizing the pads can keep them in good condition, but only dog-friendly products should be used – human soaps and moisturizers could be harmful to your pet.
- Turf Awareness: The surfaces your pet walks on can cause damage to its paws. Be aware of where your dog is walking, and keep it off hot summer asphalt, sharp gravel, stinging ice, or other surfaces that can be dangerous. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't want to walk barefooted on a surface, your dog most likely wouldn't enjoy it either.
- Paw Inspections: All dog owners should regularly check their pet's paws for any cracks, splits, slivers, cuts, blisters, or other injuries. Left untreated, even a small injury could become infected and cause great discomfort, and more severe problems could lead to lameness or more debilitating conditions.
- Paw Massage: Pamper your dog with regular paw massages, gently rubbing first the central pad, then each toe, spreading the toes slightly in the process. Doing this will help promote better paw circulation and keep a dog's paws in great condition, and it can be a wonderful bonding opportunity between pet and owner.
Let your dog step out into the world in a happy, healthy way by taking the proper care of its paws, and you've taken another step toward being a responsible, exceptional dog owner.