Do your pup’s paw pads appear dry, cracked, and in need of some serious pampering? Foot care is as important for dogs as it is for us humans, but the paw area is often overlooked. Paw pads serve many important purposes, helping your dog navigate their environment, providing traction and stability. Although your dog’s paws can adapt to walking over rough terrain, the skin can be sensitive, and sometimes the elements can wear them down. Extreme temperatures, rough terrain, and exposure to chemicals and toxins can damage paw pads and impact your dog’s mobility and overall quality of life. Read our Roosevelt Animal Hospital team’s five paw-some pointers to learn how to protect your pup’s paws. 

#1: Keep your dog’s paw fur trimmed 

Keeping the fur on your dog’s paw pads trimmed supports their comfort and wellbeing. You should also regularly trim your pet’s nails to prevent them from growing so long that they curl and dig into the paw pads, causing discomfort and mobility issues. When you keep your pet’s paw fur trimmed, they experience the following benefits: 

  • Improved paw hygiene —  Excessive fur can trap dirt, debris, and moisture, which can cause irritation, infection, and fungal growth. 
  • Better traction — Long paw pad fur can interfere with your dog’s grip and stability on slippery surfaces, such as hardwood or tile floors, which increases their injury risk. 
  • Less matting — Untrimmed paw pad fur can become matted between your dog’s toes, which can be uncomfortable, and cause them to chew their feet, creating hotspots and other skin problems. 

#2: Use pet-safe home cleaning products

Many common household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can harm pets. If your dog walks into the kitchen after you’ve mopped with a cleaning solution, the skin on their paws can absorb the chemicals directly from the floor. In addition, your dog may lick the solution off their paws, ingesting harmful chemicals. Use pet-friendly household cleaning products, and when cleaning floors or using disinfectant sprays, keep your dog out of the room until the chemicals dry.

#3: Check the temperature before walking your dog

The weather can affect the health of your dog’s paw pads. To prevent your pet from experiencing painful paw pad injuries, avoid walking them when temperatures are extreme, or provide them with paw protection such as dog boots. Extremely hot or cold temperatures can be hard on your dog’s paws: 

  • Cold temperatures — Your pet’s paw pads can crack or tear during the winter, especially if they walk outdoors a lot. Snow and ice can increase your pet’s frostbite risk, and dry their paw pads, leaving the skin chapped or cracked. In addition, salt and other chemicals used to melt ice and snow can harm your pet’s feet and can cause toxicity if your furry pal licks the substance off their paws. 
  • Hot temperatures — Sizzling pavement can cause severe burns and blisters on sensitive paw pads. To keep your pet’s paws from getting burned, avoid going for walks during the middle of the day when temperatures are high. Ensure the pavement is safe for your pet by testing it with your hand. If you cannot keep your hand there comfortably for 10 seconds, the pavement is too hot. 

#4: Consider additional paw protection for your dog

Paw protection can be a worthwhile investment in your dog’s health and safety. While your dog may need time to adjust to wearing boots, this footwear can provide additional paw support, traction, and insulation for your pup’s paw pads. Boots can help protect your dog’s paw pads from the following:

  • Burns and blisters — If you can’t avoid walking over hot surfaces with your dog, boots can prevent their paws from getting burned
  • Frostbite — Boots not only provide additional traction for your dog on slippery ice, but also protect their paws from chemical burns caused by deicers. 
  • Rough terrain — Hiking trails and rugged terrain can cause abrasions and lacerations, and dog boots can help reduce soreness and decrease injury risks. 
  • Running injuries — If your dog runs with you during your daily trek, they can suffer an injury. Running on concrete, asphalt, gravel or other hard surfaces puts a lot of stress on your dog’s body, and can injure their legs, paws, or paw pads. Your well-padded shoes provide support when you run, and dog boots can do the same for your canine companion. 
  • Age-related falls — As your furry pal ages, their paw pads become smooth, which, coupled with muscle weakness and balance issues, makes senior dogs vulnerable to falling, especially on slick floors.

#5: Check your dog’s paws regularly 

Clean your pet’s paws after outdoor activity, and check for injuries, skin damage, foreign objects such as burrs, pebbles, or foxtails, and pain or tenderness signs. If your dog doesn’t want to walk, is limping, or licking their paws excessively, they may be in pain. If your dog’s paw pads are hurting, they may exhibit these signs:

  • Limping 
  • Resistance to walking 
  • Discoloration or redness 
  • Blisters 
  • Lacerations

By taking these steps to protect your pup’s paws, you help ensure their feet remain strong, healthy, and comfortable as they walk by your side for years to come. Get your dog’s health off on the right foot by scheduling an appointment with our Roosevelt Animal Hospital team. Our facility will open in August 2023, and we look forward to caring for your pet’s paws—and everything in between.