Tips for keeping dog paws healthy
You would think that since dogs can attack your own shoes that they would be a fan of wearing their own dog boots and dog shoes, too, right? Not so much. If you follow actress Mignon (Daniella “Danni” King from Tyler Perry’s show “Sistas”) on Instagram, then you can probably recall your pup acting like this when you put those dog boots on him. But if you live in a cold-weather climate or rocky climate that can hurt a dog’s paws, he may just have to get used to it.
Snow, ice, salt and ice melt chemicals are no friends of paws. According to the American Kennel Club, “icy particles and snow can collect between his toes, and most road salts and deicers are toxic to dogs.” While he may not think you’re doing him any favors, this is one of those decisions that your dog will just have to live with — during your walks at least.
From OCD to foxtail dangers and paw massages, the way a dog and its owner treats paws can affect everything from his heart to his legs. Check out these five tips to help improve a dog’s paw health.
Recognizing lick granuloma
People aren’t the only living beings who can develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Dogs can, too, but pet owners may mistake a pet repeatedly licking or chewing at its paws as playing around.
According to American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, lick granuloma is “a form of self-trauma where the dog continuously licks a small area, most commonly the paw that becomes raw and inflamed.” Boredom, compulsiveness and stress are key factors in why this may happen. But if the dog ingests something that is on its paws, this could turn into a dangerous situation. Never underestimate a dog paying too much attention to one area.
On your walk around, watch your dog and his paws
Dogs that regularly run in grass, along rocks and in fields will develop a thicker paw texture for running in rougher territories. House dogs will undoubtedly have a more difficult time with this adjustment. Weather may also affect how a dog feels while traveling. Paws shares a few dog-walking suggestions for paw health:
- Spring and summer veterinary check-ups to fight off parasites (ex. fleas and ticks)
- Preventing over-exercising
- Walking in the shade
- Taking walks before sun-up or after sundown to help avoid excess heat and hot gravel/sidewalks
- Be aware of sudden limping
Be on the lookout for foxtails
Foxtail grass can be fatal, and the way a dog paws at its own body can make it worse. On top of eyes, nose and ears, according to WebMD, foxtail can insert its way between a dog’s toes. Swelling, limping and constantly licking will be noticeable. If paws are not checked regularly, foxtail can travel its way into a dog’s lungs and/or brain. This grass is so uncomfortable from contact that it can lead to abscesses, discharge, pain and swelling, in addition to fatalities. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if there are signs that foxtail is present.
Keep a clean lawn
While dogs have a habit of turning just about anything into a toy, it’s up to the owners to make sure none of these new “toys” are unsafe or in unsafe areas. Playing by railroad tracks or in fields are two notorious places that will be less sanitary and have unsafe items laying around, such as broken glass. Also, before property is purchased or a new dog is welcomed home, ask about foxtail growth. However, while homeowners and renters can keep track of their own property, that same flexibility doesn’t always extend to the rest of the neighborhood. Check paws regularly.
Keep paws moisturized
In addition to insulation against both hot and cold weather and aiding in walking on rough ground, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that paws also help to protect bones and joints from shock. For that reason, ASPCA recommends pet-approved moisturizer and paw massages. From the areas surrounding the pads of the paws and in between each toe, the paw massage should not only relax the dog but improve circulation. By doing this regularly, this will also help the pet owner know when something may be wrong. The dog finding out it has a masseuse is an added bonus, of course.
Parts of this post were originally written by Shamontiel and published on the Opie & Dixie blog.