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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.
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.
In this article, you will find information on:
As you can imagine, there are a lot of possible ways in which a dog can injure his paws. The most common causes include:
Depending on the cause of the injury, most likely you will see some of the following signs:
There are quite a few things that you can do to keep your dog's paws healthy.
If your dog has dry and rough paw pads, or even worse, if he has super-dry and cracked pads, try using these home remedies:
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For minor cuts and abrasions on the paw pads, use a disinfectant such as Betadine solution to disinfect the paw. Then put a bit of Calendula ointment on the cut and loosely wrap it with a bandage.
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.
Here are just some examples of dog-safe and simple ingredients that you can use to make a foot soak:
Watch this video to see how simple it is to set up a foot soak to facilitate dog paw health:
If for some reason you cannot set up a foot soak for your dog, at least wipe down the dog's paws after walks or playing outside. A simple way is to soak a cloth in water mixed with apple cider vinegar and use the cloth to wipe down the four paws.
If you choose to use commercial wipes to clean our dog's paws, be sure to get one that contains only natural ingredients, and one that doesn't contain alcohol (e.g. proplylene glycol) and antibacterial agents (e.g. chlorhexidine digluconate). According to EWG (Environmental Working Group), these ingredients are skin irritating and may be toxic to human skin.
Keeping your dog's nails trimmed is also an important part of keeping his paws healthy.
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!
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:
If you live in a place where the summer is HOT, extra care has to be taken to protect your dog's paw pads.