A lot of dogs like to keep their paw business private. They do not appreciate their paws being handled and examined, which is why dog-owners often let their condition go unnoticed.
But clean, healthy paws are extremely important to a dog’s overall health and they cannot be taken for granted. Here are 11 insights on paw pad protection and maintenance in summer, and some interesting information too that you probably didn’t know about your pet’s general feet care.
SUMMER CARE FOR DOG PAWS
Hot walking surfaces are no more fun for dogs than it is for us. Come summer, and their daily walking route on asphalt and concrete can become very uncomfortable. Blistering and burning are common summer issues, and it is your responsibility as a dog-owner to ensure that the animal is not being made to walk on overheated pavements, hot sand, gravel etc.
# 1: So How Hot Does Asphalt Really Get?
According to the Journal Of The American Medical Association, when the outside air temperature is a comfortable 77 degrees, the asphalt has actually heated to 125 degrees. When it’s 87 degrees outside, the asphalt is at a raging 143 degrees. And at 125 degrees of asphalt heat, skin destruction can happen to dogs in as little as 60 seconds!
# 2: Change Walking Hours To Cooler Times Of The Day
Try going out earlier in the morning and after sundown for a dog walk when the walking route is not as hot.
# 3: Test The Ground First
Place your hand or bare feet on the pavement to check the heat. If you cannot stand keeping them there for at least 10 seconds, then don’t make your dog walk on it either.
# 4: Walk On Grass
If there are grassy patches, or parks nearby, guide your dog to walk on grass instead of the pavement when the ground is hot.
# 5: Moisturize Paws
While you do want your dog’s paw to be tough and hardy, it’s a good idea to moisturize them regularly to avoid summer dry-outs, cracks, peels and injuries. Dry paws are more susceptible to damage from hot walking surfaces than healthy ones. Do not use moisturizers that are reciped for humans, as they are likely to make the paws too soft. Get products that are meant specifically for dogs.
# 6: Apply Paw Wax
This is a product that can be applied just prior to walking. Paw wax is designed to protect your dog’s feet from several potentially-harmful surfaces and chemicals like road salts, and can be used as added protection during winter as well.
# 7: Buy Protective Shoes
If you live in a really hot part of the country where temperatures routinely climb to 3 digits in the summer, it may be a good idea to get your pet some hot-weather dog shoes to guard his/her paws. Shoes have to fit well, so do some research on this before buying any. Invest in shoes with rubber or neoprene soles. Use shoes for short walks only. Dogs “perspire” through their mouths and paws, and when dogs’ paws are exposed, their perspiration allows the body heat to adjust. Also, keep in mind that a lot of dogs do not adjust to shoes at all and may reject them altogether.
# 8: Keep Nails Trimmed
If your dog’s nails are going click-click-click when walking, then a pedicure is long overdue. Properly-maintained nails should barely be skimming the ground. The hair between the pads can mat painfully if nails are overlong, so comb these tufts of hair out and trim to make them even with the pads. Unclipped nails can also crack and snag easily on things like carpeting nubs and upholstery fabric, which is just inviting injuries to happen when the animal tries to yank its foot away.
# 9: Give A Deep Paw Massage
When playing with your dog, take a few minutes to give its paws a nice massage. Palpate the pads and then work your way between each toe. Squeeze the paw in your hand for 3 to 5 seconds when you are done. These actions will relax the animal and promote good blood circulation.
# 10: How To Deal With Paw Injury
If you see signs of injury, soak the paw gently first in warm water. The warmth and moisture will remove surface debris and draw blood flow down to the injured tissues to help prevent infection. Let the paw air dry and then apply anti-bacterial ointment and secure it with a sock covering to discourage the dog from licking the wounded area. Do not bandage too tightly or you might cut off circulation. Paw pads are made up of tough keratinized epithelium, which can make the healing process take up to 3 weeks. Take your pet in to see his/her vet as soon as possible.
# 11: Check Paws Frequently During Summer
Look for sun and heat damage, swelling and pain. Notice if your dog is favoring one foot or licking frequently. Wash away bits of stones and other debris your dog may have picked up in its paws. The presence of foreign particles may cause abrasions, cuts and bleeds.