Caring for dog paw pads

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Are you caring for your dog paw pads the right way?

Let’s talk about one of the most ignored part of the dog anatomy, the paw pads. Caring for your dog’s paw pads is of utmost importance. They walk all day, everyday, most often without shoes. They can suffer from burnt paws or blisters due to the following:

  • Walking on gravelly surfaces on the streets
  • Walking on over heated roads
  • Rubbing the paw pads on rough surfaces
  • Development of mats between the toes.
Caring for dog paw pads
Caring for dog paw pads

Injured paw pads can make walking a very painful experience for your dog. The paw pads might also develop an infection leading to a variety of skin issues if your dog licks the injured skin. Thus, caring for the paw pads is of utmost importance

There is a lot to be taken into consideration besides just trimming your dog’s nails when it comes to caring for their paw pads.

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What are paw pads? 

Paw pads are made up of pigmented skin (usually pink or black) which cover the paws fatty tissue. Since fat is insulative in nature, they give your dog’s paws some protection during the winter season. They also make up an integral part of your dog’s foot structure and work alongside your dog’s nails to provide protection to the paws. Paw pads are responsible for maintaining your dog’s balance, absorb shock, provide stability as well as traction.

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You must have noticed that your dog’s paw pads are either calloused and rough or soft and smooth. The smoothness of the paw depends on a variety of factors like:

  • If your dog is young and hyperactive, goes on daily walks or hikes on rough surfaces, chances are that they will have rough paws.
  • On the other hand, if you have an older dog who does not go for walks much or if your dogs mostly spend time running on grass, they are more likely to have smooth paw pads.
  • If you regularly maintain the paw pads by cleaning them and use lotions and creams meant for the paw pads, chances are the paw pads will be smooth.

What can damage your dogs paw pads?

In most cases, the damage to the paw pads of dogs can occur due to various conditions. However, in most cases the causes involve winter environmental conditions, regular walks on hot pavement, chemical exposure and finally, allergic conditions.

Hot pavement and weather

Dogs have to go on walks, whether it is winter or summer. However, the temperature outside is not in our hands. It may be too hot and your dog needs to go potty. You do not have much option to let your dog out later. You will have to either take your dog out for a walk or let them in the backyard. If the surface is devoid of grass, chances are the pavement surface will burn the paw pads of your dog. 

Alternatively you take your dog to the beach on a hot and sunny day to cool down. However, the sand on the beach and the salt water of the sea are two environmental elements that can cause damage to the paw pads.   

Paw pad exposure to chemicals

If you live in a snowy region, chances are that the sidewalks and roads will be covered with chemicals meant for ice melting and se-icing salts. On the other hand, during the months of summer, people spray their gardens and yards with pesticides and fertilizers. Even the house cleaning chemicals contain several ingredients that may harm the paw pad of your dogs. These chemicals can not only hurt the paw pads of your dog, they can cause serious health condition if your dog ingests them. 

Allergies

Dogs suffer from allergies too as has been observed in the case of humans. If your dog has allergies, it can cause itchy and dry paws. This can also lead to the paws splitting open and bleeding. If your dog continues to lick and chew the paw pads, it will cause further damage to the skin of the paw pad. 

Caring for dog paw pads
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Maintenance of your dog’s paw pads:

Form a habit of regularly checking your dog’s paws:

Gently spread the toes apart and check the sides of the paw pads for the presence of any abrasions, injuries or any foreign objects which may have got lodged between the paw pads. Make sure to also check for the presence of any discoloration or swelling. Furthermore, watch your dog closely to see if they show any sign of being in pain while you are inspecting the paw pads.

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How to check if a surface is okay for your dog to walk on?

Put the back of your hand on the hot pavement or the hike trail you want to take your dog on. Hold it there for 7 seconds. If you can maintain your hand on that surface for 7 seconds, then it is okay for your dog to walk on. If you cannot keep your hand on the surface, then it is not fit for your dog to walk on either.

 
On the other hand, snow ice or salt can also be detrimental to your dogs paws. The ice melt products are not dog safe. They can even cause drying out, cracking or burning of the paws. Furthermore, it can turn out to be toxic if ingested by licking the paws.

Keeping the paw pads healthy

Get your dog used to wearing dog booties

Dog booties are not always meant for making funny videos. Granted, when dogs wear booties for the first time, they have some pretty hilarious responses. But jokes aside, if you can get your dog used to wearing boots, nothing better than that. Look for boots which are well fitted, sturdy and of the non-slippery kind.

Caring for dog paw pads
How to care for dog paw pads?

 

Moisturize your dog’s paws pads

If you don’t find boots which stay on or if your dog simply hates wearing boots like Delta, you can try regularly moisturizing their paw pads with a paw balm or paw pad wax. These paw balms create an invisible barrier on your dog’s paw pads and repel dirt, salt and ice, thus keeping the paws healthy.
 
Always use the paw balms before taking your dog for a walk. You can also use some coconut oil for an everyday paw massage. It will keep the pads healthy and prevent any microbial infection. Regular massaging your dog’s paw pads will let him or her relax after a long day of constantly being active on the paws. Check out the the other amazing benefits of coconut oil for dogs.

Keep the fur in paw pads trimmed and mat free

Always make sure to keep the fur between your dog’s paw pads trimmed and short. This helps to provide increased traction on slippery surfaces and helps prevent matting. It also makes it easier to inspect their paw for any injury or abrasion.

Dogs with single coat generally don’t have much fur underneath their feet, but dogs with thick coats have fuzzy feet which can benefit from regular trims.

Dealing with toe tangles and matted fur

If your dog has matted fur between the toes, use olive oil to loosen the mat and then very gently try to comb it out. However, it’s best recommended to leave it to the groomers to remove the matted fur as it can be a pretty painful process for your dog.

Take your dog on the walk when it is cool outside

Dogs are creatures of habit. If you take them to poop outside at a specific time daily, they will have the urge to go for pooping at the same time regularly. Thus, make sure that during summers, you take your dog out during the early phases of the morning, when it is cooler outside and the pavement would not be very hot. 

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Wash the paw pads and dry them after walk time

Always wash the paw pads of your dog and dry them the moment you finish walk time. Whether it is dirt, grime, snow or sand, washing the paw pads will remove all the unnecessary elements from the paw pads. Once the paw pads have been cleaned and dried, apply a good quality dog paw pad balm to trap the moisture in and keep the paw pads healthy and dirt free. 

Dog paw pad cut/injury/wound care: 

Paw pad injuries are not very uncommon in dogs whether they are puppies or senior dogs. In case, your dog is hurt, always make sure to consult your vet before trying to fix the injury on your own. However, there are a few steps which can be taken immediately in case you are stuck or do not have an access to the vet:

  • First, clean the wound with warm water.
  • Do a second clean with Betadine.
  • Clean out particles which might be stuck in the foot with tweezers.
  • Dry out the paw pad with light motions and a soft towel. Be careful to not hurt the paw any further.
  • Apply a ‘dog specific’ antibiotic ointment.
  • Apply a bandage so that your dog does not lick off the antibiotic.
  • Consult your veterinarian.
 
If you notice your dog’s paw pads developing blisters due to walking on hot surfaces, reduce the walk time to allow the blisters to heal. Another option is to not take your dog out when it is too sunny. Meanwhile, keep the blisters clean by washing with water. Do not use peroxide on the blister, it will slow down the healing process. Only apply Neosporin to the blisters twice daily until the sores heal up. Call your vet in case a pain medication is needed.

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Other dog paw issues

  

Smelly paws

 
Dog’s feet possess sweat glands which enable them to cool down during hot conditions. They also have scent glands which leave behind pheromones which indicate to other dogs of their presence. Most people complain of their dog’s feet smelling like corn chips. This is due to the growth of yeast or bacteria under your dog’s feet. However, if the smell is too strong, it is time to pay a visit to the vet. Your dog’s paw pad might be suffering from some infection caused by environmental and food allergies.

Hyperkeratosis Canine hyperkeratosis can either be genetic or an underlying medical condition. Under this condition, the paw pads of the dogs look crusty, thick, rough and it may seem like they have fur growing out of their paw pads. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any such symptoms. In the meanwhile, keep the paws protected and moisturized with paw pad balm to reduce the discomfort of your dog.

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I always prefer to know the ingredients of what I am putting on Delta. Thus, I prefer to make a paw balm for him.

For this DIY paw balm recipe you will need:

  • A double boiler or a small pot
  • Lip balm tubes or lip balm tins
  • A kitchen scale (completely optional)
 

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) olive, sweet almond or sunflower oil
  • 1 oz. (approx. 1 tbsp.) shea butter
  • 4 tsp. beeswax
  • 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) coconut oil

Method

  • In a double boiler or a small pot, melt the shea butter, oil and beeswax on low heat. Stir the concoction continuously until it is melted and well mixed. pour the mixture carefully into the lip balm tins or tubes
  • Let them cool on the counter until they become hard.
  • Store them away from extreme heat
  • Apply the balm to soften your dog’s paws or nose or as a preventive treatment. Use it within 1 to 2 years of making. 
I have made this and have observed wonderful results. I hope you do too. Let me know in the comment section what you do to take care of your dog’s feet. If you likes this post and wish to be informed about the latest blog posts, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers, so I can send you notifications about the latest posts directly in your inbox. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel of The happy Puppers (Shruti and Delta) to check out the videos.  

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See you in my next blog post

Shruti

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