Your dog’s paws are an extremely important to them, therefore it is really important that we help our dogs treat and prevent dog paw pad injury.
When your dog has a sore paw through injuries or illness, your dog will find it extremely frustrating, annoying and sometimes quite debilitating. Just like we would.
I will start by giving you a run down on the anatomy and some amazing facts about your dog’s paws. A great article from Mother Nature at Work tells us all we need to know and It goes something like this:
Amazing facts about your dog's paw
1. Of the 319 bones, on average, that comprise a dog’s skeleton, a handful of those (so to speak) are dedicated to the paws. Along with bones, dog feet include skin, tendons, ligaments, blood supply and connective tissue.
2. Paws are made up of the following five components:
3. The digital and metacarpal pads work as shock absorbers and help protect the bones and joints in the foot. The carpal pads work like brakes, of sorts, and help the dog navigate slippery or steep slopes.
4. Paw pads have a thick layer of fatty tissue that insulates the inner foot tissues from extreme temperatures, as it doesn’t conduct cold as quickly. (Think whales and blubber.) Meanwhile, as the paw gets cold when it hits the ground, arteries transfer the chilled blood back to the body where it warms up again. Because of these traits, scientists believe that domestic dogs first evolved in colder environments before spreading out into other climates.
5. The pads also offer protection when walking on rough terrain. Dogs that are outside a lot and exposed to rough surfaces have thicker, rougher paw skin; dogs that stay in more and walk on smoother surfaces have softer pads. The pads also help the dog distinguish between different types of terrain.
6. The inner layer of skin on the paw has sweat glands that convey perspiration to the outer layer of skin, which helps cool a hot dog and keeps the pads from getting too dry. But paws can also exude moisture when a dog gets nervous or experiences stress; dogs get sweaty hands, just like we do!
7. Dogs are digitigrade animals, meaning that their digits — not their heels — take most of their weight when they walk. Because of this, dogs’ toe bones are very important.
8. Dog’s toes are equivalent to our fingers and toes, although they are unable to wiggle them with the ease that we do.
9. Dewclaws are thought to be vestiges of thumbs. (Imagine if dogs had evolved opposable thumbs? The world might be a very different place!) Dogs almost always have dewclaws on the front legs and occasionally on the back. Front dewclaws have bone and muscle in them, but in many breeds, the back dewclaws have little of either. (Because of this, dewclaws are often removed to prevent them from getting snagged. However, opinions on the necessity of this procedure are mixed.)
10. Although they don’t provide much function for traction and digging, dogs do use their dewclaws; for example, they help the dog get a better grip on bones and other things the dog may like to chew on.
11. That said, Great Pyrenees still use their rear dewclaws for stability on rough, uneven terrain and often have double dewclaws on the hind legs. Among show dogs, the Beauceron breed standard is for double rear dewclaws; the Pyrenean shepherd, briard and Spanish mastiff are other breeds that have double rear dewclaws listed for show standards as well.
12. Breeds from cold climes, like St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, have wonderfully large paws with greater surface areas. Their big, floppy paws are no accident; they help them better tread on snow and ice.
13. Newfoundlands have the longest toes of all breeds, and Labrador retrievers come in second. Both breeds also have webbed feet, which helps make them excellent swimmers. Other breeds with webbed feet include the Chesapeake Bay retriever, Portuguese water dog, field Spaniel and German wirehaired pointer.
14. Some breeds have what are called “cat feet.” These have a short third digital bone, resulting in a compact feline-like foot; this design uses less energy to lift and increases the dog’s endurance. You can tell by the dog's paw print: cat feet prints are round and compact. Akita, Doberman pinscher, giant schnauzer, kuvasz, Newfoundland, Airedale terrier, bull terrier, keeshond, Finnish spitz, and old English sheepdog all have cat feet. (But don’t tell them that.)
15. On the other hand — er, paw — some breeds have “hare feet,” which are elongated with the two middle toes longer than the outer toes. Breeds that enjoy hare feet include some toy breeds, as well as the Samoyed, Bedlington terrier, Skye terrier, borzoi and greyhound. Their paw prints are more slender and elongated.
16. And then there’s “Frito feet.” If you notice the distinct smell of corn chips emanating from the feet of your dog, resist salivating. Because when you find out that the source of the aroma is due to bacteria and fungi, you may become mightily grossed out. Generally this doesn’t lead to complications for the dog.
17. Do you love having your hands massaged? So does your pup! According to the ASPCA, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. They recommend rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rubbing between each toe.
18. Although the exact etymology isn't known for sure, the word "paw" appears to come from the Gallo-Roman root form "pauta," which is related to late 14th century Old French "patin," which means clog, as in the type of shoe.
OK, so now you know all about paws, but as tough as our dog's paws are, there is still a chance that they become injuried and sore and may need special attention.
Common dog paw pad injuries and conditions
1. Cuts and Punctures
Your dog may cut or puncture his paw on sharp objects while running or digging in unfamiliar areas. You may find cuts on your dogs pads, between their toes or on the toe itself. After a run or walk through rough or rugged terrain, spend some time checking your dogs pads for cuts.
2. Burns / Hot and Cold surfaces
Paws can be severely burned and injured by walking on hot ground during very hot days. Hard surfaces, particularly those with a dark colour can get incredibly hot. All of which will cause your dog’s paws may burn or blister. Winter is as harsh for your dog. The cold snow and ice can cause paws to chapp and crack. The rock salt use on icy roads can cause sores, infection and blistering. Chemicals can also cause burns to your dog’s feet as well as being toxic if your dog when licks his paws.
3. Grass Seeds
Grass seeds can easily become lodged in between your dog’s paws. They can become embedded and cause a nasty infection if not removed. Trim the fur around your dogs toes and check for grass seeds in between your dog toes after walking.
Allergies can cause your dog’s skin to inflame, peel and itch. Your dog will often lick the paw to alleviate the itching and may often make the inflammation and irritation worse.
5. Auto-immune disease
Autoimmune disease is the term used for antibodies that are produced in the system but fight against healthy cells and tissues and may cause your dog’s skin and paws to blister, crack, flake or ulcer.
6. Nutritional deficiencies
As with us humans, vitamin and mineral deficiency in our bodies can cause health issues including poor skin condition including your dog's paws.
How to tell if your dog has a paw injury
We are usually not present to see our dog injure themselves or the condition may occur over time in the case of illness, infection and allergies.
Some of the more obvious signs will be your dog limping or lifting their foot when standing. Others may be that you notice your dog’s paw is red or bleeding. If you dog has a saw paw, they will ofter lick the paw excessively.
What to do if your dog injures a paw
Treatment for a sore paw will obviously depends on the type of injury injury or illness that your dog has. If your dogs has a paw or pad injury the following first aid can be applied.
1. Inspect your dog’s paw
If you suspect an injury to your dog paw, inspect it for obvious signs of injury, blood, splinters broken claws,etc.
2. Clean the wound
Fill a bucket with clean lukewarm water and wash your dog’s injured paw. Inspect and remove any debris from the wound if you can. Use tweezers if your dog lets you.
.3 Disinfect the area
You can use a diluted antiseptic like Betadine to assist with cleaning. Once the paw pad is clean and dry, disinfect it again with betadine. Soak a cotton ball and carefully swab the area and allow it to air dry for a few minutes.
4. Stop the bleeding
We always need to stop any bleeding as soon as you can. Use a clean absorbent cloth or bandage to apply pressure on the paw pad. Maintain some pressure until the bleeding stops.
5. Apply Antiseptic
Apply a small amount of antiseptic cream to the affected area. You can purchase an antiseptic cream from most pet supply stores or you can use Neosporin or Vetericyn. Both will prevent infection and is safe should your dog try to lick it off.
6. Wrap and protect
You will want to protect the fresh wound with some soft gauze. This will also provide additional cushioning for the pad when you dog starts to walk on it. Wrap the gauze in a self adhesive bandage to protect the paw and to stop your dog getting to the wound. Keep the bandage clean and dry and change it daily until the paw has healed. Dogs sweat through their paws and pads which means moisture builds up under the bandage. This can then encourage bacteria and cause additional problems for your dog.
If your dog tries to chew at the bandage, apply a deterrent spray like bitter apple on the bandage. You could try dog boots or in worse cases, a collar may be required until the paw heals. If your dog won't stop licking or chewing the bandage, you may need to use an e-collar. An e-collar is the big cone that prevents them from even getting close to the bandage.
Always avoid walking your dog on hot pavement. We sometimes don’t realise how hot the ground is it if we have shoes on. If your dog suffers burns to his pads, cool the burn with cold water or an ice pack wrapped in cloth. If it looks like a severe burn or blister, see your vet immediately.
If you are unsure of how hot the pavement is, take your shoes off. It is hot on your feet, it will be hot on your dog's feet. Don't walk your dog on hot pavement.
When to see your vet
Be sure to assess whether your dog needs to see the vet. If the injury is large or the bleeding does not stop, your dog will need further treatment. Vets don't generally stitch paw pads but they will be able to help dress the wound and may recommend antibiotics in some cases.
Five ways to care for your dog's paws
Your dog's paws do a lot of work so we need to take good care of them. It is also better to prevent an injury rather than treat one. WebMD helps explain 5 ways to take good care for your dog's paws:
1. Puppy pedicures
Walking on hard surfaces will naturally keep your dog's nails trimmed. If you dogs nails are a little too long, trim your dog's nails so they are just short of touching the ground when your dog walks. Be careful not to trim too short and hurt your dog
2. Keep paws clean
Objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between your dog’s toes for any foreign items like grass seeds, rocks, and remove them. Trim the fur around his toes to help with this as well.
3. Moisturize pads
Your dog’s pads can become cracked and dry. Use a good pad moisturizer to condition your dog’s pads. And keep them from cracking.
4. Massage paws
Who doesn't like a good massage. Well, your dog included. A paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. Massage your dog’s whole paw including toes, pads and paw. Combine this with the moisturiser for a conditioning massage.
5. Exercising tips
If you plan to take your dog on long runs or hike in the mountains, check his paws and pads before and after the hike. Don’t walk your dog on hot pavement or sharp rocks. Extra long runs on harsh surfaces may cause severe abrasion making your dog paws extremely tender. Try a cooler time of day, run on the grass or softer ground or try some dog boots.
Three Must Have Dog Paw Care Products
Besides their teeth and jaws, dog's use their feet and paws for almost everything they do. Paws are very important to a dog and it is up to us to help our dog's look after them. Here are some ways that you can care and repair dog's paws or simply provide a nice pedicure for your pup.
1. Musher's Secret Dog Paw Wax Review
Musher's Secret is a dense, barrier dog paw wax that forms a breathable bond with your dog's paws. Originally developed in Canada for use with sledding dogs, this unique paw wax for dogs provides tenacious protection even in the most extreme conditions and temperatures.
Safe and Natural
Made from 100% natural waxes . A blend of several food-grade waxes, refined to a special formulation. Mushers is a safe, non-toxic way to protect your dog's paws. It is a semi-permeable shield that is absorbed into the paw and still allows perspiration through your dogs' toes.
Musher's Secret is a blend of 100% pure natural waxes (including White and Yellow Beeswax, Carnauba, and Candelilla Wax) and White & vegetable oils with vitamin E. Musher's Secret wax does not contain Soy or Flax Oil.
How to Use
Spread a light coating of Musher's Secret on the pads and rub in. Mushers will absorb in minutes (rub a little on your hands, when it is absorbed you will know it is absorbed into the pads as well). In very harsh cold or snowy conditions be sure to rub up in between the pads to prevent snowballing.
For year round use, 1-2 times a week is sufficient. During extreme weather additional applications may be necessary. The frequency of use may depend on the amount of exercise and weather conditions.
>> Check out the price of Musher's Secret on Amazon
2. Muttluks Dog Boots Review
I looked into dog boots that working dogs use. I figured that these would be the best no the market. The answer was Muttluks! They are the best of the best dog boot.
They are highly durability and made from water and salt resistant leather that stands up well to the elements. Heavy-duty industrial nylon thread, Velcro fastener is backed with silver reflective material for nighttime safety and visibility. The body of the boot is made of soft, heavyweight fleece to cushion the dog’s ankle from the Velcro strap.
Muttluks come in 8 different sizes and have a self-tightening system to prevent them from coming off. It has a soft stretchy cuff that you can roll up or roll down and worth every cent.
>> Read more details and check out the price for Muttluks on Amazon
3. Mud Buster Paw Cleaner
Brilliant!! This is so cool. How many times does your dog go out into the garden, have a quick dig, bury his toy and then ask to come back inside. ALWAYS!!!
This unique Mud Buster paw cleaner is the answer. Not only will it keep your dog's paws clean it will help remove any embedded sticks and twigs that may get infected in between your dogs toes. Watch how it works in the video below.
The Mud buster comes in 3 sizes: Small is 4.3" tall, Medium is 6" tall and large is 8.85" tall. They come in 3 colours of blue, pink and green silicon with soft spikes to remove dirt. To use the Mud buster, add a little water, put your dog's paw in, twist and pull it out. Repeat a few times to remove the mud and dirt and your dog's paw is all clean.
>> Check out the latest prices for the Mud Buster on Amazon
4. Doggy First Aid Kit
Because dogs are always running around and having lots of fun, it is essential that you have a first aid kit on hand (or paw). A dog first aid kit will have all the essentials specifically designed for dogs.
This doggy first aid kit by Fab Fur Gear is well designed with strong zips and a strong handle for hanging up, or even for your dog to carry it themselves on hikes and walks. This kit includes load of emergency items
- a tourniquet with a buckle for emergency wound & bleeding care
- triangular bandage
- medical tape roll
- metal scissors
- metal tweezers
- emergency blanket
- protective gloves
- sterile gauze
- cotton tip applicators
- emergency dog collar,
- compress bandages
- PBT bandages 7.5cm x 4.5cm
- PBT bandages 5cm x 4.5cm
- rolled elastic bandages
- cotton balls
- flea comb
What I love about this kits is not just the usual care items for cleaning and bandaging but the emergency pieces like the tourniquet to stop excessive bleeding and the emergency blanket as dogs go into shock very easily and the emergency blanket will help to keep your dog warm until you can get to the vet.
>> Check out the latest prices for the First Aid Kit on Amazon