Dog paws are as vulnerable as human feet, and like ours, they need to be taken care of and pampered. An owner wouldn’t walk across a hot parking lot or a snow covered field without the proper protection on their feet. A paw pad needs to be checked for a myriad of issues that should be addressed, including nail length, cracked pads and foreign objects wedged in between paw pads.
If a dog’s nails are click, click, clicking when she walks or get snagged easily, then she is in need of having them clipped. The nails should barely skim the ground. Most vets offer this service if the owner is too anxious to do it themselves or the dog is unwilling to have it done. The hair in between the pads does cause painful matting if not trimmed regularly. Comb hair out and trim so they’re even with the pads. Check for pebbles or other debris while trimming.
2. Cracked Pads
Pads do crack and bleed if they get too dry. Don’t use human lotion on the dogs’ pads, it may soften pads too much and lead to more issues. Instead look into pad moisturizers specifically designed for a dog’s dried out paws. While rubbing in the lotion give the dog a paw massage by rubbing between the pads and up in between each toe.
3. Summertime Care
Dogs’ paws feel heat as much as humans’ do on the bottom of their feet. Keep this in mind while out walking during the heat of the summer. To avoid blistering and burning, avoid walking on hot surfaces (such as parking lots or sand). If blistering or burning occurs, wash with an antibacterial soap and loosely wrap with gauze.
4. Wintertime Care
Excessive exposure to cold weather could cause paw pads to dry out. This will lead to pads becoming chapped and cracking. Another thing to keep in mind during the long, cold winter months is that lots of people use salt, de-icers and other items to melt ice off of sidewalks. This could be toxic to dogs who like to lick their paws or could even cause burns on their feet. When coming home from a daily walk, either wipe down or rinse the paws with warm water to wash away any chemicals they may have picked up. Another alternative is to slather the dog’s paws with a pet-safe paw balm before a walk, which will keep salt from getting on the pads, or get canine snow boots for your pup.
5. Cuts and scrapes.
Occasionally dogs will cut the pad of their paw and require some first aid. Clean the cut out with an antibacterial wash, put some antibacterial cream on the cut, and bandage the paw. Of course, that is easier said than done. If the dog is unwilling to have their paw tended to, the owner should do the best they can under the circumstances. As always, seek veterinary care for any symptoms or injuries that concern you or become worse.
BONUS Tip: Watch Out for Hairy Paw Pads (hyperkeratosis)
More and more owners are noticing a strange phenomenon on their dog’s paw pads – small, hair-like protrusions coming from the paw pad itself (we’re NOT talking about normal hair that forms in between the toes or pads). While the condition isn’t serious in this form, it can become crusty and painful if not treated early. We’d recommend trying a paw pad balm specifically made for hyperkeratosis.