Dog paw care and paw injury treatment recommendations are provided by George “Doc” Martin, Jr., veterinarian from the Frisco Plantation Pet Health Center (PPHC). During the hot weather, your dog's paws can really take a beating so please follow these recommendations to keep them up and running all season:
- Nail Length: Keep an eye on the nail length. Nails that are too long get caught in cracked earth, between wood slats in decking, in the space between the wood dividers and the concrete of the sidewalks, and other places. When they get caught they often get cracked, wrenched, or even traumatically removed. Trimming is not hard to learn and can be done readily in most dogs.
- Dewclaws: Don't forget the dewclaws. Dogs with dewclaws risk them overgrowing because they do not touch the ground so they are not routinely filed as they walk. These can grow around back into the pad of the foot and then get infected. We actually see this fairly frequently. Dewclaws can be present on front or rear feet so check them all.
- Cracked Nails from the Heat: It is really hot and dry out there! The hot dry weather can also remove moisture from the nails making them overly brittle and more likely to crack or break. Cracked nails can be very painful and can get infected as well. Keeping your dogs on good nutrition helps a lot. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and some zinc supplementation may help as well. Check with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to make sure they do not cause a problem with any pre-existing conditions or medications.
- Pad Injuries: Pad injuries are also common this time of year. Pads may get cut or develop a flap from activity on the hot dry ground. These too can be very painful, especially the flap injuries. Every step the dog takes on that foot is painful. Sometimes the cut may be wide enough or deep enough to need sutures, bandaging, or even splinting. Often a splint is needed to keep the dog from ripping open the repair during the healing period.
- Paw Pad Burns: Pads can also easily get burned on the hot pavement. If the sidewalk or patio is too hot for you to walk on in your bare feet, then it is probably too hot for your dog's feet. You should try to check the temperature of sidewalks or roads before walking your dog. This warning also applies to sandy areas such as beaches. The summer temperatures in our area get so high for so long that this is a very common problem. An often used Rule of Thumb is to press the back of your hand firmly to the pavement. If you cannot hold it for 5 seconds without discomfort, then it is probably too hot for your pet’s feet. Try to limit walks to very early in the morning to make sure the ground as cooled down to a much more comfortable temperature.
- Foreign Bodies in Toes: Stuff gets stuck in between the toes. One other common problem for dog feet is foreign bodies in the feet or between the toes. After a walk, especially if walked in a field or wooded or grassy area, check between the toes from both the top and the bottom between each toe and each pad on all four feet. Very often plant foreign bodies such as thorns, burrs, briars, foxtails, and spear grass heads lodge between the toes and then penetrate the skin migrating further and further into the foot. These can cause a lot of pain and infection of the feet.
- Warning Sign Chewing Their Feet: Chewing at the feet can be a sign of one of the above problems, but it is also a common symptom of allergies in dogs, so your veterinarian would be better able to help you address that issue.
If you would like to learn more about dog paw care and paw injury treatment from the Plantation Pet Health Center, please call 972-731-0001 to schedule an appointment or complete an Online Appointment Request.