The Pawfect Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Dog Paw Care
In the eyes of a dog parent, every part of our baby is perfect. From their shiny fur coat to their puppy eyes (which make it near impossible for us to not give them what they want), our doggies are quite literally the cutest angels to walk on earth. And just like that, even their paws are nothing short of a marvel.
Your dog’s paws help him get around, support him, provides protection while walking on uneven terrain, and even controls temperature. They can play sit and stand, jump, fetch, and high-five with you. Thus, not only are dog’s paws an important part of their body but also a means of expression. You must protect them at all costs.
What Are Your Dog’s Paw Pads Made Of?
Image Credit- The Farmer's Dog
Dogs’ paw pads consist of carpal and metacarpal pads, claws, dewclaws, digital pads. Dogs’ paws consist of five basic parts:
1) The claws (toenails)- Act as a grip and helps him dig. Historically it also assisted them to tear at prey.
2) Digital pads (Behind all 4 claws)- Grants the force that gives acceleration making your dog race with the winds when you are playing fetch.
3) The Carpal pad- help in braking and provides traction
4) The Metacarpal (on the front paws), and Metatarsal (on the hind paws) pad- These help them balance and absorb shock. It assists them while stopping and supports them so they don’t slip.
5) The Dew Claw- Only some dogs have dew claws. They are usually situated on the front legs and rarely on the rear legs. Their full use is a mystery but at fast speeds (especially when switching direction) or on slippery surfaces, dewclaws provide extra resistance. They stabilize the carpal (wrist) joint. Some dogs have more than one dew claw on one leg, called polydactyl (extra toes) dogs.
Paw pads protect against extreme temperatures. The cushioning tissues inside the paw provide support when the dog is walking on rough terrain. Underneath the paw pads is a thick, rough layer of skin made of fat. This layer protects them from any injuries and bruises.
What Are The Different Types Of Paw Shapes And Their Significance?
Despite the standard paw anatomy, some dog breeds have customized dog feet to serve their special purposes.
You must be thinking- Ay! I own a dog, not a cat. Whatcha talking about? But some dog breeds like Bull Terriers and Doberman Pinschers, Newfoundland have round and compact paws. They are characterized by high-arched toes and look like cat feet thus the name. They provide better endurance and are easy to lift.
Whippet, Standard Poodle and Greyhound have bigger center toes, these gift them speed. They have significantly longer digit bones.
These type of feet similar to those found in aquatic animals, such as ducks, frogs, swans, and geese. Their toes are connected with a skin membrane. Dachshund, Golden Retrievers and other breeds selectively bred to work in the water have these feet. Understandably, they are amazing water babies!
Splayed Feet and Flat Feet, Paper Feet
These types of paws are flat and wide-spreading. They are often considered a fault because they create instability issues. However, Tibetan terrier is a breed that has flat feet and it actually helps them to climb mountains by acting like snowshoes.
Are Your Dog’s Paws Calloused? Or Are They Smooth?
If they are a little rough, it is because your dog walks on uneven/ coarser terrain often. You’ll find smooth pads in senior, less active dogs.
Their paws should neither be too calloused nor too smooth.
Smooth paws are more likely to tear. Take them on short walks on clean surfaces to rectify this. If they are too calloused, apply paw balm once a week and put on dog shoes to avoid injuries.
Why You Should Regularly Groom Your Dog’s Paws?
Just as regular bathing is important for us, sticking to your dog’s grooming schedule is also necessary. Your puppy’s feet are always in direct contact with the ground. All kinds of dirt, germs, and debris are present on the surface which might get stuck on your pup’s pads.
- To keep clear of burns and blisters
- Clean Feet = Clean Home
- Fewer Injuries
- Keeping Infections at bay
- No Slipping due to excessive fur
- Moisturized and flexible
Paw Protections In Every Season
The scorching heat, humidity, sweat all make summer a tiring time to be outdoors. Your baby’s feet also crack and blister when he walks on the burning pavement or ground. Especially in cities, asphalt and concrete roads scorch paw pads.
How hot is too hot? You can check this by touching your bare palm on the surface. Can you hold still for 5 seconds? If not, it is too hot for your pup to walk on it.
Check out Zoof Boots- Summer Pastels. These are crafted from natural rubber and come in different sunny designs. Your dog’s perfect companion for casual walks! Alternatively, you can check Zoof Casuals. They are made of breathable cotton canvas and fastened by double velcro.
Monsoons are a relief from the summer’s searing heat. However, it comes with a different set of challenges. Most of the time the weather won’t even let us take our dogs out on their daily walk. When we do go out, the ground is covered with muck, germs, and stagnant water.
Monsoon is the breeding season for fleas, ticks, and other bacteria. You NEED to protect your dog’s paws from these or they’ll end up getting infected.
We recommend you make them wear Zoof Plops when going on daily walks during the monsoon. They are anti-tick, water-resistant shoes with an anti-slip sole.
If your place experiences dramatic temperature drops, limit your dog’s outdoor activities. Dry and cold winter air causes paws to crack and even develop frostbite. Don’t let them lick the salt as that is toxic.
Dog shoes will shelter them from the cold, rock salt, ice, and other harmful substances. Check out Zoof Casuals, made of soft cotton canvas and an anti-slip sole. These breathable shoes will prevent your pup’s paws from scathing cold pavements.
What Are The Common Dog Paw Problems You Must Look Out For?
Allergies and Infections
All kinds of bacteria and fungi live in the paw pads of our dogs. If timely care is not taken, these lead to various bacterial and fungal infections.
Look for signs of excessive licking, biting, itching, a greasy discharge, redness, or discolored nails. These may point to a deeper allergy or a secondary infection.
Do your dog’s feet smell like corn chips? Has this smell grown stronger lately? If yes, it may be due to some underlying allergic condition that is causing an increase in the number of yeast and bacteria. Practice proper hygiene and consult your vet in case of infection.
Dry and Parched Paw Pads
Dog paws are supposed to be rough. If they are very smooth, they may not be able to provide sufficient traction. Climatic conditions, chemicals, excessive licking and vulnerability to rough surfaces may lead to cracked paws.
Try Zoof Wax. Gently massaging your pup’s paw pads with Zoof Wax will keep them nourished and form an insulating shield. This will organically barricade them from any dirt, trash, or waste present in the ground. Keep the soles of their feet in prime condition!
Cuts, Burns and Blisters
Just imagine yourself in your dog's bare feet. When you take them on walks, hiking, or even when you are playing indoors, dirt, debris, and trash may stick to their paws, cutting them.
Unlike us, dogs are usually barefoot. But just like us even their feet burn if exposed to extreme hot or cold conditions.
Keep an eye out on the terrain your dog walks. Prevent them from getting in contact with any unwanted crap or obstacles on the path.
Overproduction of keratin causes hair to overgrow. These hairy dog feet hardens and cracks. This may further lead to burns and blisters.
See if there is hair growing on the paw pads as well and not just between their toes. If yes, contact your vet.
Hyperkeratosis isn’t necessarily a serious condition but can cause pain later on. So, better be safe than sorry, right?
How To Take Care Of Your Dog’s Paws?
Groom them well!
Taking proper care and maintaining foot hygiene is a must. Following are healthy paw grooming habits that should be your daily cleaning ritual.
As much as you try, you cannot keep an eye on your pooch all the time. Minor accidents are bound to happen. Keep your doggie first-aid kit handy for times like these.
If you see a minor cut or burn, be sure to clean it with an anti-bacterial wash. Next, apply antibiotic cream. Bandage the wound with care. Do not let him lick the wound as that will hamper the healing process.
In case of a major injury, waste no time consulting your vet.
Trimming Those Nails
Nail Trimming is a hassle but neglecting it is much worse. Long toenails make it difficult for your doggo to walk. It also increases the chances of their nails colliding with a hard object and getting torn/fractured. This results in a painful and even bloody experience for your dog.
An amateur job of nail cutting may lead to a harmful growth of ingrown nails.
You can watch this video or Check out this infographic for a quick and easy How-to guide.
If you or your dog are scared of DIY (We understand!). Be Safe and get them trimmed professionally by your Vet or at a grooming center.
Do you have any more questions about paw care? Or maybe you are confused about your dog’s shoe-related needs? Feel free to drop us a comment below or message us on any of our social media!