Healthy paws are vital to your dog’s health and happiness. They not only help your dog get around, but the pads on your dog’s feet provide cushioning to protect your dog’s bones and joints from shock, they protect against extreme temperatures, and they function like shoes when your dog walks on rough surfaces. Because of their importance and the daily abuse they are subjected to, it is essential to regularly check your dog’s paws for damage or infection and to take proper care of them.

Consequences for Neglected Paws:

In addition to impairing your dog’s mobility, unhealthy paws can lead to muscle and bone disorders and behavioral problems. Failure to exercise can lead to lack of energy and weight gain, which in turn contributes to a variety of health problems, including diabetes and arthritis. Dogs that experience pain during activity are more likely to become depressed, withdrawn, and aggressive. These changes can lead to increasing social problems and reluctance to eat, creating a harmful cycle of behavior.

Symptoms of Unhealthy Paws:

In many cases, it will be obvious if your dog’s paws are injured, infected, or otherwise unhealthy. Unhealthy paws are generally painful and cause limping or trouble walking. Signs of infection include redness, fever, foul odor, and a discharge. The infected paw may also be hot to the touch. Injuries generally cause swelling and redness. There may or may not be obvious signs of a cut or fracture. Report any signs of infection or injury to your veterinarian right away.

Paw Care Tips for Dogs:

Regular paw care helps prevent injury and increases your dog’s comfort. Caring for your dog’s paws takes only a few minutes each day and can be incorporated into your normal brushing or grooming routine.

Keep your dog’s nails the right length by trimming them regularly and checking for broken or cracked nails. The nails should not be too short, but should not be so long that they make contact with the floor when your dog walks. If you are uncomfortable trimming your dog’s toenails, consult your veterinarian or a groomer for advice.

Comb the hair on your dog’s feet and between his toes every time you brush the rest of his body. If the hair between his toes is long or matted, carefully trim it with scissors. While you are at it, check between each toe for pebbles, glass, and other debris that may cause injury.

Protect your dog’s paws from extreme weather by moisturizing them in the dry winter months with a veterinarian-approved pad moisturizer and washing them after he spends time walking in salt or chemicals. During the summer months, keep your dog off scalding pavement to prevent burns. If your dog’s paws become burned, apply an antibacterial wash to prevent infection and then cover the affected paws with a loose-fitting bandage.

Clean cuts and other wounds promptly and see your veterinarian for any cut that is deep or larger than a half inch in diameter. Also, see your veterinarian right away if your dog appears to be in pain or is limping. Taking care of your dog’s paws will ensure his continued happiness and health.

Paw Care guest post provided by VetDepot, an online supplier of discount pet meds and pet supplies.