A dog's paw pads are very important, and often neglected, areas of a dog's body. They are made up of skin, bone, ligaments, and blood. They are just like our feet, sensitive to temperature and terrain; the only difference is that they adjust to the surroundings faster. A dog walks without shoes, and hence, the paw pads are always subjected to harsh conditions, be it weather or rough walking surfaces. This makes them extremely susceptible to injuries. One injured paw pad can still get a dog through until recovery by limping. But two injured paw pads, and your pooch is going to be unable to move. The following are some problems that may affect a dog's paw pads, along with the possible treatment options to be followed for the same. There is also a list of basic paw pad care that you can look into, just as a preventive measure.
Cracking or PeelingCracked or peeling paws can be a consequence of anything, an injury while playing, severe winter, or dryness. These cracks are painful for the dog, and also tend to bleed. Check for any abrasions along the pad; they will feel rough to touch.
Rinse the paw in a warm water-antibacterial wash solution. Check closely for any lodged debris that may have caused the injury. Try removing it by rinsing. Or with a pair of tweezers. Ask your vet for an ointment to apply on the area, and bandage it up to avoid the wound from reopening.
BurnsThere are two common ways in which a dog's paw pads can burn. One is walking on a hot surface during summer, and the other is the salts and chemicals spread on the road to melt the ice during winter.
Burned paw pads show symptoms of peeling, redness, and blistering. The first thing to do is to get your dog off that surface. Then wash the paw pads will cool, clean water. You can also use an antibacterial wash; keep one handy at all times. Ask your vet for the best brand. Then take your dog to the clinic.
Raw pawsIf your dog's paws appear inflamed and raw, then there is a chance that your dog may be experiencing lick granuloma. It is a psychological issue, wherein the dog keeps licking a paw continuously, either due to boredom, stress, or an OCD.
The paw remains injured as the licking prevents it from healing. In such cases, bandaging the paw after administering the right ointment is a safe option. You will have to consult your vet for the behavioral issues that your dog is displaying, as getting help for these is extremely important.
RednessIf you notice any redness on one or more of your dog's paw pads, then there can be multiple reasons for that. Some common ones are allergies to certain chemicals used around the house, food allergies, yeast infection, an insect bite, broken nail, or even a fungal infection.
The treatment for red paws depends upon the cause. The best option is to take your dog to the vet for a checkup, so that the exact reason for the symptoms can be determined and appropriate treatment can be administered.
White padsIf you notice a white patch on your dog's paw, then it may be due to walking too much too soon, on a new terrain. It may also be due to a constant licking of the paws.
If the cause is the first one, then reducing the walking time on the new road and going slow may help. However, as this is not a very common occurrence, the best thing to do is visit the vet.
Falling offIf you notice your dog's paw pads falling off, then there is no need to panic. First of all, paw pads grow back. Secondly, they will heal faster, the lesser your dog moves around. This injury is seen in dogs many times.
Using an antibacterial wash to prevent infections is very important. Visit the vet to know about the further courses of treatment. Bandaging the paw will require you to ensure that the bandage stays intact. You will also need to keep a close eye on the pads and follow the course of treatment recommended by the vet.
The following are some basic methods to take care of your dog's paw pads and prevent any injury to them. These should, as far as possible, form a part of your pet's daily grooming routine.
One of the most common causes of paw pad injuries is debris getting lodged between the toes. If you find your dog constantly licking its paws, then check between the pads for any grass seeds, stones, or other small objects that may be causing the discomfort.
A yeast infection may also be a cause for severely itchy paws. This is a common issue particularly in the summer, when the warmth between the paws becomes a breeding environment for the infection. If your dog is constantly eating or licking its paws, then check for a yeast infection.
Moisturizing your dogs paws, especially during winter, when they become dry and chapped, will prevent them from getting injured. However, remember not to use your own moisturizer for your dog, as it can soften the skin greatly, aiding in injuries. There are special brands available in the market that are specifically meant for dogs.
The fur between the paw pads is prone to matting, which is painful for the dog. To avoid this problem, it is advisable to comb the fur regularly with a special brush, and trim it from time to time to keep its length maintained. If you are unsure of doing it at home, then a vet can do it for you.
A deep paw massage will ensure better blood circulation to the feet, and will also help to relax your dog. This will go a long way in maintaining healthy paws.
As we take time to adjust to anything new, so do dogs and their paws! If you are thinking of starting a new trekking or jogging (or similar) regime with your dog, then take it slow for the first few days, as the paws will take some time to get adjusted to the new terrain. Rigorous activity on the first day can lead to paw pad injuries.
Every time you take your dog for a walk, be on the lookout for anything that can hurt its paws. Things like small stones, foxtail grass, small pieces of glass or metal, or anything potentially harmful should be avoided as far as possible.
Clean your dog's feet after every walk, preferably by rinsing them in warm water. You can also use a disinfectant that is vet-recommended. For a yeast infection, wash the feet with an antibacterial solution. Ensure that it has been given a thumbs-up by your vet, and don't use human products for your dog.
Keep checking the paws after every walk. If you see any blood, cuts, or injuries, provide first aid. If the wound is deep, then visit the vet. A serious injury will need intensive treatment and possible bandaging.
One very common paw injury that is seen in summer months is blistering and burns on the pads. Surfaces like asphalt, concrete, or sand tend to get very hot during the day, and walking your dog on these is an invitation to paw injury. You will need to visit the vet in such an event and get immediate treatment. The best course of action is to take your dog outdoors either before sunrise or after sunset.
In winter, the skin of the paw pads can get dry and cracked. This can lead to bleeding if the cracks deepen. Moisturizing the paws a few times a day, and wearing winter booties while heading out are good options. If your dog refuses to wear the shoes, then the best alternative is to cut down the walk duration.
These were some methods to take care of your dog's paw pads. Remember that these pads are just like our feet, and hence require the same amount of attention. However, they are also strong and tough; so just be on the lookout for any injuries, don't worry, and enjoy some priceless moments with your dog.