Puppy Paws: 3 Tips For Caring For This Often-Neglected Part Of Your Dog

You care for your dog well; you take him for regular vaccinations to protect him from illness, you feed him high-quality dog food, and you give him all the love in the world. Do you also know how to properly care for his paws? Many dog owners don't realize how important puppy and dog care for paws is, but remember that they walk outdoors with their delicate paws exposed to the elements daily. Follow these three tips to keep your dog's paws healthy and free from injury or infection. 

1. Trim Fur Between Pads Often

You may think that when you take your dog for a seasonal trip to the local groomers, that the paw-care performed during this trip is enough. While a good groomer does (or at least should) trim the fur between the pads of your dog's feet short and tidy, you may not realize that this fur can grow back very quickly between trips to the groomer 

Why is it important to keep this fur short? Your dog walks on dirt, mud, and grass during your walks, and ticks and other pests can cling to this fur easily while walking. While you likely know the hazards of ticks, small rocks and other sharp objects that cling to this fur early on in a walk, if untreated, the sharp objects can puncture his paw and leave him with a nasty wound and can result in infection.

2. Balm Up to Protect Paws Further

There are balms specially made to place on the pads of dogs' feet before going out for a walk. These balms typically contain soft wax that forms a protective barrier between your dog's paws and the ground, and this can keep paws safe from many environmental hazards. Not only can these balms protect delicate feet from salt placed on the ground during icy winters, but it can also safeguard paws if you accidentally walk him through pavement covered in fluids that have leaked from a car, such as motor oil or brake fluid. 

Few people realize that the pads of feet are also the most common entryway for hookworms that want to get into your dog's body, including right into his internal organs.  

3. Consider Training Your Dog to Wear Shoes

While a balm creates a barrier between paws and the ground that is much better than nothing, it never hurts to at least attempt to train your dog to wear real dog shoes. Not all dogs feel comfortable in shoes, even after training, so don't force him to wear them if he simply seems uncomfortable in them. However, he may surprise you and actually love wearing them, and you can then feel much better knowing your dog's feet are completely protected during long walks. 

Remember that no matter what steps you take to protect your dog's paws from the elements, always inspect them regularly for signs of wounds or infection. If you see anything on his paws that looks suspicious, then take him to the local veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment before the problem worsens.