Common Dog Foot ProblemsDogs spend a lot of time running, jumping, and generally romping around. It's no surprise, then, that dog foot problems are fairly common health concerns in dogs. Examine your dog's paws regularly - think of it as a "preventive" health check! Doing so can help you identify minor problems before they become most serious (and more costly) problems. Here's a quick summary of some of the more common dog foot problems:
- Biting, licking, or chewing at her paws
often indicate allergies. Your vet can assist you
in determining what substances, if anything, your
dog is allergic to.
Another reason why dogs might persistently lick or chew her paws is because of an embedded object - for instance, dogs that are walked through fields or forests may find that a plant seed or burr has managed to attach itself to the paw. Gently remove the object and monitor the area for any signs of infection.
- Torn or fractured nails can occur when
your dog "catches" the nail on something.
This is extremely painful, and the nail should be
completely removed by your vet (do not
attempt to do this yourself). Eventually the nail
should regrow unless the trauma to the nail bed
was too severe.
- Cut on the paw. Our dogs run through all
sorts of terrain, so a cut isn't uncommon. Wash cuts
out and apply an antiseptic ointment. Wrap some gauze
around the paw and cover with a soft sock or a dog
bootie, if you have one. This helps to prevent your
dog from licking at the wound.
Large or deep cuts should be examined by your vet.
- Cracked or dry paw pads. Dry and cracked pads
sometimes open up and bleed. Apply a moisturizer to your
dog's paws (check your vet or local pet supply
store for moisturizer that's specially formulated for
this purpose). Don't do it too often, though - your
dog relies on "tough" paw pads for walking,
and moisturizer can make them too soft and sensitive.
- Foreign objects lodged in the paw, whether
it's in the pad itself or in between your dog's toes.
This includes burrs, seeds, dried mud, and even just
matted fur. Carefully remove any foreign objects and
clip mats - be careful not to nip / damage the
"webbing" between your dog's pads.
- Interdigital cysts sometimes occur. These
are lumps that form in between the dog's paw pads.
A vet can perform a fine needle aspirate of the lump
to check whether the lump is benign or malignant.
- Long toenails should be trimmed. You can
do this at home, or if you haven't done it before or
are uncomfortable doing so, it can be done at the vet's
or at a dog grooming salon. Keeping your pet's nails
short will help to prevent torn nails, and keep walking
comfortable for your dog.
If your dog runs a great deal, especially over rough terrain or in very hot or very cold conditions, consider investing in a set of dog booties. Yes, they look funny and it most dogs need time to get used to them, but the boots can save your dog's paws from excessive discomfort or injury. Dog foot problems can occur at any time since our canine pals love to run and play - so keep a watchful eye out for potential issues that may need treatment.