BLOG / Dog

How Do You Care for Your Dog’s Paws?

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by Andrew Garcia
Apr 18, 2022
4 minute read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Dog Paws Explained
  • Composition of Dogs’ Paws
  • What Causes “Frito Paws” in Your Dog?
  • Caring for Your Dog’s Paws
  • Final Words
The quality of your dog’s everyday life depends considerably on its feet. Dogs’ paws comprise skin, tendons, bones, tissues, and blood vessels. It is that part of their body that bears their body weight. It is also crucial to the general movement of dogs, considering our canine friends rely on their feet to walk around, whether on rocky, grassy, snowy, or concrete terrains. Maintaining and caring for canine paws helps the dogs avoid injuries and improve their overall quality of life.

Dog Paws Explained

Most dog owners have mentioned their fascination for dog paws. These tiny appendages are pleasing to the eyes and impressive in their functions. It’s the only reason your best buddy can move and jump around in excitement. The paws are indeed powerful, so dog owners must learn how they work and how best to maintain them.

Composition of Dogs’ Paws

You will find the skin, bones, tendons, connective tissue, blood supply, and ligaments in a dog’s paw. All of these components can be classified into five parts, each with a unique function.

Nails

The curvy nails or claws are present at the end of your dog’s toes. Due to their sheer strength, dogs use them for support and digging purposes. The nail is composed of keratin - a special protein that contributes significantly to the overall stability of the feet.

Digital Pads

The role of the digital pad is to protect the bones and joints in the paw of the dog. They are often called the shock absorbers of the dog’s paws because they absorb the weight of your furry pal. The digital pads are also responsible for keeping stress off the joints and bones of the dog’s feet.

Metacarpal Pad

The metacarpal pad is the part of the foot you find right in the middle. It is heart-shaped and also supports the dog’s weight, especially when running or walking. The metacarpal pads are more prominent and absorb the weight better than the digital pads.

Dewclaw

Declaw is not present in every dog. When present, it appears like thumb-like claws on the front paws. It performs no specific function, but many people believe that it can help the dog separate the dew from the grass.

Carpal Pad

You will find the carpal pad of your dog right above the declaw. The carpal pad serves as a rear brake to ensure stability when your dog is walking on slippery or steep slopes. We can compare it to human heels.

What Causes “Frito Paws” in Your Dog?

Pet owners complain of several unusual dog behaviors, and one of these is “Frito paws”. It describes a situation where the dogs’ paws smell strangely, similar to the corn chips. While the odor from a dog’s paws is not a problem, the odor in the case of “Frito paws” is due to bacteria, fungi, and similar microorganisms.
The feet of your furry pal touch everything on the ground. These include dirt, microbes, and other unclean particles. Proteus and pseudomonas are two common bacteria the dog’s paws may encounter. When this happens, the paws smell like yeast or corn chips.
The smell from these bacteria often comes alive when the dog sweats, and that is because the dog’s paws are outlets for their sweat. Therefore, the odor may be more pungent when your dog has been active for a long time. We recommend cleaning your furry buddy’s feet with water whenever it returns from play break.

Caring for Your Dog’s Paws

The active nature of dogs means their paws will be called to action more often than not. Whether they are just walking, playing fetch, or running around the place, your dog relies on healthy paws to live a proper life. That is why you should take care of your canine’s paws. Here are ways to do that:

Trim the Nails

It is easier to conclude a dog is healthy and hygienic when its nails are trimmed. But not all dogs enjoy the nail trimming experience, despite the process being simple and fast. Feel free to turn to professional groomers if you struggle to trim your dog’s nails correctly.
If you want to go the DIY route, we recommend that you start during their puppyhood. As your canine friend grows, it becomes more used to the entire process. You will need some extra energy to restrain an active dog for nail trimming, but an obedient dog may just sit still and allow you to do the needful.

Cut the Paw Pad Hair

It is common to see dogs grow hair on their feet. Matted feet occur when the fur gets long, which can be a problem for your canine friend.
Always look out for hair growth between your dog’s pad. You should trim it if it ever gets too long before it folds into the pads. Again, this is a basic DIY for most dog owners, but you may hire a professional groomer to do it for you.
two dog paws

Protect the Paws Adequately

Taking your dog for a walk is one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your dog. However, dog walks during winter and summer mean you walk on cold and hot pavements. Dogs, especially the younger ones with tender paws, must have their feet adequately protected for such terrains.

How to Protect Their Paws During the Summer?

When it gets really hot during the summer, the cement and asphalt become hotter - with temperatures that can boil an egg. Such temperatures are too high for your dog’s paws and may cause burns on their pads.
Before starting that walk, assess the ground temperature by putting your hand on the ground for about ten seconds. Reschedule your walk for another time if it is too hot. Otherwise, you can go out while reducing how long you spend on hot pavements. You should also moisturize their paws regularly during the summer. We recommend using dog shoes or paw wax where possible.

How to Protect Their Paws During the Winter?

The best way to protect your dog’s feet during the winter is to use dog’s paw boots. You may need to check the paws regularly and remove residual salt and ice if your dog is not a fan of boots. This prevents cracking and ensures your dog doesn’t ingest a harmful chemical or substance by licking its paws.

Check the Paws Regularly

If you own a dog that enjoys spending time outside, mixing with dirt and rocks, it is more likely to pick up infections and allergies. It would be best if you also looked out for frequent biting and licking of paws - it indicates irritation, alongside appendant swelling or redness.
Most irritations in dogs are caused by fungal and bacterial infections, food allergies, or seasonal allergies. If you are unsure what the course is, reach out to your vet as soon as possible.

Final Words

Paws hygiene, like oral and coat hygiene, is crucial to the well-being of your dog. Unhealthy paws translate to an unhealthy life for your pups, considering it is a potential entry point for most harmful bacteria. You can adopt the homemade paw care solutions mentioned above in your pet care routine as a dog owner. Lastly, always consult your vet if you notice anything strange about your dog’s health.
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