We all know, feet are made for walking and a dog and cats are no different; but did you know your pet’s paws are also made for protecting? Yep, his pads are there to provide extra cushioning to help protect his bones and joints from shock, provide insulation against extreme weather conditions, aid him while he’s walking on rough terrain and help protect tissue deep within his paw. With all that hard work to do, it’s no wonder your cat and dog’s paws often take a bit of a battering.
So, if you love your pet and want to keep his paws in tip top condition, take a look at my tips below. Your pet will be ever so grateful.
Winter Woes: Rock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infections and blistering to your dog and cat’s paws. Toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog and cat when he licks his paws. After your pet has been outside, wash your paws in warm water to rinse away salt and chemicals.
Foreign Objects: Items such as pebbles, small shards of broken glass, pieces of ice and other debris can become lodged in your pet’s pads. These can usually be removed safely and gently using a tweezers. If in doubt, call your vet.
Get out the Moisturiser: Your pet’s paw pads can become cracked and dry. Ask your vet to prescribe a veterinary moisturiser – do not use a human one – and massage into your pet’s paws. Start by rubbing and massaging the veterinary moisturiser between the pads on the bottom of the paw and then move between each toe. For Dogs only Vaseline is also a great barrier against salt so rub it onto your dog’s paws before each walk. Cats may lick the Vaseline so you need to ask your vet if it is ok to use on cats or ask them what they would recommend for cats.
Doggy Exercise: Your dog loves exercise but if you’re about to begin a new regime, start off slowly. His paws may be sensitive, especially after a hard winter, and they can become chaffed or cracked; so take this into consideration before you bring him on long hikes or runs. Be conscious to avoid hazards such as broken glass and other debris when walking your dog. Do keep this simple tip in mind—if you don’t like to walk barefoot on glass or other sharp objects, then neither will your dog!
Safety First: It's not unusual for dogs and cats to suffer cuts or other wounds from accidentally stepping on glass, debris or other objects. Wounds that are smaller than a half inch in diameter can be cleaned with an antibacterial wash and wrapped with a light bandage. For deeper paw cuts, see the vet for immediate treatment.
Prevention: To reduce the risk of injury, keep your garden clear of pointy bits and pieces.
Pamper With Pedicures: Your dog's nails should just about touch the ground when he walks. If nails are clicking or getting snagged on the floor, it's time for a pedicure. Ask your vet or groomer for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly. Better still, have your vet do it for you. If you have a cat please check with your vet first before you trim any of their nails. Cats naturally scratch their claws to keep them short so cats generally do not need their claws trimmed. Your vet will give you the best advice about cats.
Snip and Trim: In order to avoid painful matting, trim your pet’s paw hair regularly. Simply comb hair out, especially from between the toes, and trim even with the pads.
(c) Miriam Kerins, Education Officer, DSPCA