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Why Puppy Paw Care Is Important
Your puppy loves to run and jump and get into all kinds of mischief! Healthy paws allow them to enjoy all of their adventures as they begin to understand the world around them. It’s our job as owners to practice regular puppy paw care, as part of maintaining a dog’s overall health.
Dogs’ paws are characterised by their pads and claws, which help them to bear weight, move around, grip on to surfaces, dig, and play.
Your puppy’s pads (B – digital, C – metacarpal, and E – carpal) are comprised of thick layer of skin with fat underneath. Pads cushion the paw, protecting its bones and muscles from injury. The claws (A) at the end of each toe and the dew claw (D) are designed to grip, dig, and manoeuvre.
If puppy paw care isn’t up to scratch, claws can grow too long and become damaged, and infections may develop in the pads. This can inhibit your dog’s ability to stand, move around, play, and do their normal activities.
Fortunately, taking care of your pup’s paws is pretty straightforward. Let’s find out how it’s done! (Also check out our tips in grooming your dog at home.)
Puppy Paw Care Shopping List
|Pair of small scissors||Trimming paw fur|
|Dog nail clippers||Trimming claws|
|Paw pad moisturizer||Maintaining the condition of paw pads|
|WaterWipes||Cleaning paws while out and about, or at home|
Puppy Paw Care Methods
We’ll split this section into two parts: maintenance and treatment. Puppy paw care will usually involve both – often simultaneously!
It’s said that prevention is better than cure, and thorough maintenance can help your pup to avoid damage to their paws.
Firstly, make sure that their feet are as clean as possible. Of course, dogs love to get into mud, water, grass, and all kinds of shenanigans! We don’t expect them to be pristine all the time, but it’s important to check for obvious debris that can become embedded and cause pain or infection.
Perform a visual check of the paws, between the pads, and on the claws. Gently remove debris with your hands or a WaterWipes, and if there are any stubborn pieces, use tweezers to get them out.
Next, keep paw pads supple and healthy by using a specialist moisturising balm. There are lots of products out there, so it’s best to check with your vet to find out which one is best for your puppy.
Paw moisturiser can be applied as required; if your dog’s pads are particularly dry, treat them several times a day. For general maintenance, aim for once a day, and massage well to ensure that your puppy gets the most benefit from the application. It can also be really relaxing for them!
An important notice before we go on. Don’t be tempted to use your own lotion; formulations for humans are not intended for dogs. All good paw moisturisers have been thoroughly tested to make sure they don’t harm your pup if they’re accidently ingested, so stick with proper paw balm!
Watch Out for Extreme Weather Conditions
Dogs develop their tolerance to heat and cold over time, so it’s important to be especially vigilant during puppyhood. If it’s excessively warm outside, don’t allow your pup to walk on hot surfaces. Keep them on the grass, and don’t walk them on the pavement – this can rapidly cause burns.
Similarly, if it’s freezing cold, prolonged exposure to icy surfaces can lead to pain and even frostbite. Allow your puppy to enjoy the snow, but keep outdoor playtime short and sweet in chilly temperatures.
Puppy Pedicure at Home or at the Salon
Complete routine paw maintenance by giving your puppy a pedicure! If your dog has long hair on or around their feet, take a pair of small scissors and trim the fur – particularly near the claws and pads. This prevents matting, which can cause pain and infection if left to develop. Finally, keep claws tidy and healthy by trimming them regularly.
Some owners may prefer to leave this task to the specialists, but if your pup will tolerate it, you can certainly manage nail trims at home.
Puppies are little adventurers, and sometimes their paws can bear the brunt of their escapades! Scrapes and cuts are not uncommon, and can usually be treated successfully at home.
If your pup has a wound on any part of one of their paws, you’ll probably notice that they’re limping or avoiding weight-bearing on the affected limb. Start with a visual check to pinpoint the problem. Apply a little water to the area to begin clearing any dirt or debris, and if there are pieces to remove, use a pair of tweezers. Make sure to soothe your puppy while you’re treating them; they might be a little frightened, and some extra attention can really make them feel a lot better!
If there’s a cut or graze on the pads or any part of the paw, use an antiseptic wipe, spray, or diluted wash to clean the area. Wrap a bandage around the wound if possible. This will prevent infection and further damage. Be warned – some puppies won’t enjoy having their paw bandaged! But it is often necessary, so persevere!
Signs It’s Time to Visit the Vet
Sometimes, seemingly simple ailments can become serious. If your puppy shows signs of infection of the paw area, such as swelling, itching, limping, discharge, or foul odour, take them straight to the vet for immediate treatment.
You may also wish to seek advice if you’re not sure about the right treatment for a minor injury, particularly if it doesn’t seem to be improving. Call your vet in the first instance; they may be able to advise you over the phone, or decide if it’s better to visit in person.
If your dog has been involved in any kind of accident that may have resulted in a broken bone or serious damage to their paw, don’t delay in taking them to the vet.
Puppy Paw Care 5 Top Tips
Recapping everything we’ve learned in this guide, here are our top tips for keeping your puppy’s paws clean, tidy, and healthy:
- Trim paw fur and nails regularly.
- Immediately clean away debris from between the paw pads.
- Use a specialist pad moisturising balm to keep paws supple and healthy.
- Treat grazes and cuts with antibacterial wash, then apply a bandage (after proper medical advice.)
- If your puppy shows signs of infection or injury, err on the side of caution and visit the vet.