The "business end" of a dog's paw is composed of the digital pads and a larger metacarpal pad. These pads are covered in tough injury-deflecting skin with shock-absorbing fat beneath. Most dogs have a fifth claw alongside the carpal pads; in some breeds, this claw is removed to prevent injuries and snags. Besides cushioning the dog's joints, the pads also insulate them to protect them from extreme heat and cold. The pads guard delicate tissues against rough terrain. Dogs' paws are important and versatile tools for protecting your pet; they need sound care to keep your dog as healthy as possible. Here are some good steps to take:
Properly-trimmed dog nails should make just the barest of contact with the ground. If you can hear loud nail clicks when your dog walks, it's time for a trim. While nail-trimming is a job that you can easily take care of at home, it's best to consult with a veterinarian or groomer to get advice for your particular pet. Use the trimmers your expert recommends and follow their instructions to clip your dog's nails safely and effectively.
Paw Hair Trimming
The hair growing alongside a dog's paw pads can become matted if it grows too long. This is painful for your pet. You can prevent it by combing out the hair and cutting it so that it does not reach past the pads.
Remove Debris Between Pads
In the course of walking, dogs can get pebbles, plant matter, or even broken glass stuck between their pads. Check your dog's pads for potentially-harmful debris on a regular basis. Most debris can be removed by hand or using tweezers. Not doing so may mean the dogs paws are red in between toes.
Moisturize The Pads
This task requires a moisturizer formulated specifically for dogs. Human moisturizers may make dog pads too soft and leave them vulnerable. Get moisturizer recommendations from your veterinarian.
A brisk rub can soothe your dog and have a beneficial effect on blood circulation.
Change Walking Habits Slowly
If you are shifting an indoor dog toward more outdoor exercise, make the change gradual. Dogs that spend most of their time indoors will have softer, more delicate pads. They need time to adjust to rougher surfaces and wider temperature ranges. Get them used to outdoor walking by starting off with short walks. Bring the total distance up gradually.
Paw First Aid
Pad cuts require first aid. Use an antibacterial wash to clean the cut and the surrounding skin. Apply antibacterial cream and then bandage the paw. Keeping a proper bandage in place is tricky for many dogs, but exerting a little extra effort will help your pet heal faster.