The health of our dog's paws tends to be overlooked by many dog owners, but keeping our dog's paws healthy is in fact one of the most important things for our dog's wellbeing. This page looks at the symptoms and some possible causes of paw injuries in dogs, some natural home remedies for injured paw pads, and how to maintain healthy dog paws.
Dogs usually have no protection on their paws, and yet they walk, run, and jump on concrete roads, rugged terrains, ice and snow, and rocky paths. Their paws are constantly being exposed to a variety of potentially dangerous conditions. It is no wonder, therefore, that dog paw injuries are quite common.
Possible Causes of Paw Injuries
As you can imagine, there are a lot of possible ways in which a dog can injure his paws. The most common causes include:
- Cuts on the dog's pads by sharp objects
- Cracks on the dog's pads due to hot, dry, or cold weather
- Insect bites or stings
- Broken toenails
- Dislocated toes
- Foreign objects (e.g. small rocks, burrs, etc.) lodged between the toes
Signs of Paw Injuries
Signs and symptoms depend on the cause, with the most common signs as follows:
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- Reluctance to use the injured foot
- Chewing or licking the affected paw
- Swelling, reddness, pain, itching (in cases of insect bites or stings)
- Inflammation or infection can be caused by foreign objects lodged between toes
- Swollen and painful toe (in cases of broken or dislocated toe)
Natural Home Remedies for Dog Paw Pads
Except for deep cuts and broken bones, most dog paw injuries are rather minor and can be treated at home. Natural remedies, such as herbs, homeopathy, vitamins and minerals, are very effective in treating dog paw injuries and maintaining dog paw health.
Vitamin E for Cracked Pads
If your dog has cracked pads, try giving him Vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E
improves blood circulation, enabling cracked pads to heal quickly. Vitamin E also strengthens the immune system, therefore is effective in preventing infections.
Zinc/Selenium for Cracked Pads
These minerals are indispensable when it comes to maintaining healthy skin and dog paw health. Zinc strengthens the skin and quicken healing, while
selenium boosts immunity. Consult your vet regarding optimal dosages for your dog.
Herbal Remedies for Paw Injuries
Itchy Owie Ointment for Dog Paws
Itchy Owie Ointment is an excellent herbal ointment that consists of healing herbs such as calendula, aloe, licorice, plantain, and more, as well as vitamin E and evening primrose oils. Good for minor cuts and abrasions, insect bites and stings, dry paws and other
Foot Soaks for Irritating Paws
If your dog is always licking and chewing on his paws, it probably means that there are some kinds of contaminants (e.g. allergens, toxins, chemicals, etc.) that are irritating his paws. Before your dog gets into the habit of licking and chewing his paws incessantly, try to use foot soaks to decontaminate his paws every time he returns home from the outside.
Watch this video to see how simple it is to set up a foot soak to facilitate dog paw health:
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Maintaining Dog Paw Health
Dog nails that are allowed to grow too long can raise health issues. One result of extended nail growth is ingrown nails which can be very painful for our dogs. Extended nails can also break easily. In addition, long nails also make it difficult for dogs to place their full body weight on their feet. As a result, dogs with long nails may develop sore feet, legs and hips. It is therefore important to trim our dog's nails regularly.
Many dogs do not like having their nails cut or trimmed, especially if we use one of those guillotine style nail clippers. It is easy to cut too close to the "quick" resulting in bleeding. It's really painful for the dogs and no wonder they almost always put up a fight when they see the clippers!
A much better way to trim our dog's nails is to use a product like Oster Pet Nail Grinder (which is essentially an electrical "whirling emery board"). I have been using it to trim my dog's nails for a while now and it's a breeze! No more bleeding, and no more stress (for both my dog and me!).
Tip #1: If you use a nail clipper and accidentally cut the "quick", and you don't have access to some styptik powder, you can simply apply some cornstarch or cayenne pepper to the nail to stop the bleeding.
Tip #2: Rub a little Vaseline into the nails after trimming and polish them with a soft cloth to make them look shiny and clean!
For more information on trimming dog nails, please visit this page.
Dog Foot Pads
Our dog's foot pads can be dry and rough in the winter time, especially if you live in a place where it is cold and snowy.
Rock salt and most chemical de-icers can irritate a dog's paws. Salt and de-icers caught between the dog's toes can make walking uncomfortable. Most de-icing products or rock salt are also toxic to dogs if ingested.
It is important therefore that we pay extra attention to the dog paw health in the winter time. In particular:
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- As much as possible, stay away from heavily salted areas when walking your dog.
- Check your dog's paws after walking. Specifically, look between toes and examine the foot pads for cracks in the skin.
- To avoid ingestion of salt or de-icers by your dog, always wash his paws with warm water or use one of the foot soaks introduced in the video above after winter walks and activities.
- Apply some balm to your dog's foot pads after washing to prevent drying up or cracking.
- Use a safe de-icer outside your house, such as:
Safe Paw Ice Melter for Dogs and Cats.
This de-icer does not contain salt and is safe for pets and children as well.
- If you are going on a winter hike, protect your dog's paws from the snow. Get some dog booties for him to wear.