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Foot Care for a Healthy Dog

At this time of year, we hear from a lot of our clients about pets with sore feet. It’s a little-known reality that with the good weather, comes outdoor activity, dryer terrain, harder ground, beach romping, and the injuries that can go with those things. Broken toe-nails and cut pads and paws can become a real nightmare for both the pet and owner, so this month we thought we’d focus a little bit on how to care for your pet’s paws.

Nail Care
One of the first things your veterinarian will tell you when you get a new pup is “Handle Those Feet!” The more you make feet just another part of your dog’s body, the more he/she will become comfortable with having those feet cared for. It can be one of the most important things you can do for your pet! Did you know that a high number of dogs (I’d say, probably 50% or more) have real anxiety when it comes to having their feet touched? Dogs who are otherwise calm and friendly can become fearful and aggressive if they are touched on or around the paws. To help your dog avoid this kind of stress, spend some time brushing, and massaging the paws of your dog. If you start early, you may become comfortable trimming your dog’s nails also. You can purchase a pair of safe nail trimmers at your veterinarian or at a pet store. When your dog is a pup, trimming the tips of the toenails is all that is necessary, and it is great to familiarize your dog with the process.

Your dog needs a nail trim when the nails start to show curvature, and should only be trimmed to the quick, never farther back, as this can be painful and will bleed. Be careful, and if you would be more comfortable having a professional trim your dog’s nails, you can book them in for this at your veterinarian, a groomer, and at some pet stores.

Failing to trim your dog’s nails can lead to the nails growing into the pads themselves in some extreme cases and can be very painful for your dog.

Paws and Pads
Do you remember cutting your foot on a barnacle at the beach as a child? It hurts! Many of us have had a similar situation with our pets. Especially in the summer months, frequent trips to our local shores are such a welcome thing, and if you have a dog like mine, they probably live to chase sticks at the beach. Most dogs, however, don’t know when to slow down and will run long after sustaining an injury to one of their paws. If you find that your dog has cut his or her pad, here are some things to do:

  1. Identify on which foot the injury has occurred and make sure you don’t allow the dog to lick! Licking and chewing introduce bacteria and does more damage to the area. Put a cone on your pet, or a sock on that foot, or both!
  2. DON’T apply a restrictive bandage without the advice of a veterinary professional. Some bandages can cut off blood supply to the affected area, and can again, cause more damage.
  3. Soak it! Soaking an injured paw in a solution of Epsom salts and warm, clean water will help heal the area. A good practice is to soak the foot up to three times a day, for up to 10 minutes a time, and dry with a clean towel after soaking.
  4. See your vet! Every case is different; some paws need stitches, some need a bandage. If your dog has a sore paw, let the vet do the diagnostics!
  5. Be prepared! Carry some first aid material with you so that if you find yourself in a situation, you can help stop bleeding, and keep the injury clean until you can get some help.
  6. Consider boots! You can order a wide arrangement of helpful footwear for your pup if you find that sore paws are becoming an issue. Check out amazon or your local pet stores for some options!

When heading out for some fun this summer, consider your dog’s feet. Take the trail less travelled and opt for the grass or soft sand instead of gravel or rocky shores. Your pup will thank you for it!

If you have any questions, give us a call at 250.334.8400.

Written by: Van Isle Veterinary Hospital

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