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A Beginner’s Guide to Canine Paw Care

A Beginner’s Guide to Canine Paw Care

Taking on a new pet is a lot of work. There’s so much to consider. Is my pet safe? How are they feeling? What should I do to make them feel secure? Are they in good health? What does good health and safety really mean when talking about the well being of a dog? As a new dog owner, you may be thinking about these topics and of course so many more. One of the topics that’s often overlooked and yet critical to the safety and care of your canine friend is paw care.

Your dog’s paws aren’t just the cute little things you like observing and taking pictures of.  In fact, a dog’s paws have much more important functions than making a dog parent go “Awww.”

They are the most exposed, used and sensitive parts of your dog’s body. Paw pads absorb shock, help with balance during movement, protect your dog from the heat and cold and a lot more.

So grooming those paws is essential for keeping your dog healthy and happy.

Here are some of the things you can do to make sure your dog has the healthiest paws possible!

Regular Nail Trimming

Just like us humans, dogs need their nails trimmed too. And no, it’s not just to make them look prim and proper.

Long nails can harm your dog and make them feel very uncomfortable. Longer nails are also more prone to infections. They can cause problems for maintaining balance while standing, walking and running.

The nails might also get stuck and break off, causing extreme pain for your dog.

How Often Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

Usually, dogs need their nails trimmed every 1-2 months. However, it greatly depends on some other factors as well. If your dog’s nails have already grown quite long or grow faster than others, the trimming should be more frequent. Try to trim a little bit of the nails, once every 2-3 weeks.

Ideally, your dog’s nails should only just touch the floor.  If you’re hearing a clicking noise when your dog walks, almost as if it’s wearing heels, then it’s definitely time to trim those nails!

Factors that Affect Nail Trimming

How fast a dog’s nails grow greatly depends on their breed and lifestyle.

If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors being active, it will most likely need fewer nail trims. This is because active dogs are exposed to different hard surfaces which wear down their nails.

However, if your dog is active on dirt and grass, it won’t work the same way. Wearing down occurs against rough surfaces like pavements, roads, and sidewalks.

Indoor dogs with less activity are more likely to grow their nails faster, which is why the may need more frequent trims.

This also means that older dogs might need more frequent clippings since they don’t move around as much. Dog breeds like Chihuahuas, which spend a lot of time inside the house will also need frequent nail clippings.

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

  • Choose a type of nail trimming tool, according to your comfort. It can be guillotine or scissor clipper, or even a nail grinder.
  • Firmly, but gently hold one of your dog’s toes.
  • The trimmer should be held at a slight angle, cut the nail from the top to the bottom. Navigate the trimmer in the direction of the natural curve of your dog’s nail.
  • Cut a little bit of the nail, at a time. You could cut bits of each toenail every day of the week if the process is too long for one day.
  • Stop cutting when you reach a circle, which is the color of the nail. This is where your dog’s vein or “quick” is. The quick is a bit difficult to find when dogs have darker nails.
  • After trimming, you can smooth the rough parts with a nail file.

Advice on Nail Cutting

Cutting the “quick” will make your dog bleed. Applying some cornstarch onto the area will stop the bleeding.  However, it may make your dog hesitant to cooperate in the next nail trimming session as it can be a traumatic experience.

Start cutting your dog’s nails from a young age. You should get it used to having its paws touch for long periods of time. This is easily done through training and rewards.

Trimming a dog’s nails is a two-person job. Someone needs to hold down your squirming pet, while the other does the trimming. It’s best if your dog is lying down throughout the process.

If it’s very difficult for you to handle the trimming, just go get some help. There are professionals who offer this service, so why not use it? Groomers and vets know how to keep dogs calm, so it will be much more efficient process.

Care for the Paw Pads

Dogs have hair in weird places like in between their foot pads. This hair can also get tangled and matted, especially for dogs with long hair.

To avoid this, keep their pad hair short. The hair should also be combed regularly and cleaned to remove any debris.

It’s actually quite common for things like glass, pebbles, and splinters to get stuck there. So, when checking those pads, keep a pair of tweezers at hand to remove those hurtful objects.

Dogs are also prone to getting cracked and dry feet. This is just as unpleasant for them, as it is for humans. So, based on your vet’s recommendations, give them a weekly paw massage with a canine pad moisturizer.

Never use your own moisturizing cream as this will make your dog’s pad too soft. Soft pads will actually mess up their grip and may cause accidents and balance problems.

Keep a Look Out for Paw Problems

Check your dog’s paws on a daily basis. Any debris at all should be cleaned immediately. Often times severe problems can be easily solved if noticed early enough.

Your dog can’t really say it’s uncomfortable, so it’s your job to inspect its paws for any injuries. This is a crucial responsibility when caring for your dog’s paws.

When dogs become uncomfortable enough, they do begin to show some visible signs. Here’s what you should look out for-

Behavioral and Physical Signs of Paw Injuries

If your dog is licking its paw pads or chewing at it, there might be an irritant, sore or a small cut there.  If the chewing and licking are at extreme levels, it might be because of an allergy.

In that case, you should definitely go to a vet and get your dog checked. Chewing and licking are also often prevented using cones as this prevents wounds from being healed.

If your dog has red patches of skin, blisters or loose skin flaps, it might be because of a sore. Limping and whining are also signs that your dog is suffering.  Your dog may even stop being active or avoid walking over certain surfaces when it has a painful injury.

So, you must carefully observe your dog’s behavior and note down any significant behavioral changes.

Be Careful Where Your Dog Walks

There’s a lot of paw hazards out there for dogs. Things like ice, snow, pint pebbles, glass, insects and even salt can hurt your poor dog’s paws. In fact, even if your dog eats something toxic with its paws, it can harm its foot pads.

Wherever your dog is, make sure to steer it away from these problematic surfaces. Also, if you are introducing your dog to a new form of exercise, go slow. Starting off at an intense pace can cause sudden damage to your dog’s paws.

Remember, your dog’s paws are also very sensitive to different temperatures. So keep them away from very hot or cold surfaces.

Useful Paw Injury Prevention Tips

  • Whenever you do see a cut or wound on your dog’s paw, make sure to treat it immediately. Simple cuts and minor burns can be dealt with antibacterial washes.
  • Don’t delay seeking a vet’s help if your dog has a more serious burn or injury.
  • Always wash your dog’s paws with warm water after a walk outside.
  • Putting Vaseline on your dog’s foot pads before walks is a good way to keep salt particles from sticking on.
  • Get your dog a pair of dog boots. They’re cute and protective for their little furry feet!
  • Keep your house decluttered and clear of tiny sharp objects. Sweep and dust every day to make sure your house is a safe zone.

Final Thoughts

Paw care is an unskippable part of grooming, which pet owners often forget. But if overlooked, injuries and problems to the paws can become quite severe and risk their long-term safety.

The paws are sensitive because they are exposed to so many different surfaces. They are also used daily and are susceptible to wear, tear, cracks and damage.

So the next time you’re admiring your pet’s adorable paws, make sure to observe them carefully. Dog’s can’t speak about what makes them uncomfortable, so it’s completely your responsibility to do routine check-ups and help keep them safe.

Paw care isn’t really that difficult. All you have to do is be observant and follow a simple routine.

Just imagine how you treat your own hands and feet, and you’ll know exactly what your dog might need!

Author Bio:

Kaylie is all about heats and hugs. Content creator at Dogviously. Prefers a simple life and believes in sharing. Can sync-dance with Sera – her Golden Retriever.

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