Dogs are always all over the place and it’s the paws that are in contact with everything they come across. This makes the paws highly vulnerable to a variety of foreign bodies or even common cuts or blisters that might cause more severe infections.
While all dog owners are aware of flea or tick issues that occur in the dog’s coat, not many are aware of the infections that can occur in dogs’ paws when they are not cared for properly. It might begin from the paws and lead to more intense health issues as well.
Common paw problems
Before we equip ourselves with the various methods to protect dogs’ paws, let us first look at the infections and problems we need to know. Below is a list of common paw problems that you need to get familiar with.
Bacterial and Fungal infections
The dogs’ paws are always inhabited by various types of bacteria and fungi which might sometimes grow rapidly due to environmental triggers or other allergies and cause infections. Onychomycosis is a common fungal infection that is caused by ringworm around the nails. Yeast infections and pododermatitis are other common ones. In such cases, the paws are usually red, inflamed, have blisters or yellow discharge.
Demodicosis, a mite infection, and tick infestations are the most common parasitic infections that occur on the paws. Some ticks are known to cause Lyme disease, which is extremely dangerous. Apart from these, there are various other parasites that can infect the paws in different degrees of severity. Such infections usually weaken the immune system and also cause hair loss.
Cuts, burns, and blisters
These conditions usually occur in summer or when the dog walks through a hot surface. This causes their paws to get burned, blistered, and even swollen. So make sure to check if the pavement is too hot and avoid letting your dog walk over it.
Dry and cracked paws
These conditions occur for various reasons which are usually due to frostbite or walking over rough surfaces. Dry or cracked paws are also vulnerable to fungal or bacterial infections and thus need immediate attention.
Nail problems like long uncut nails, ingrown nails, or torn nails can lead to other issues that interfere with the dog’s walking and running. Such conditions might also invite fungal infections.
For every paw problem, you can observe at least one or more of these below-mentioned symptoms. In case you notice anything, it is best to get it checked by your vet right away.
- Bad smell from the paws
- Red, swollen or inflamed paws
- Limping or hesitant to walk and run
- Blood, pus or other discharge
- Frequent licking of the paws
- Dry or cracked paw pads
- Torn or infected nails
- Cuts or tears
- Other growths
Tips for paw care
Preventing paw problems is easy compared to the lengthy and tiring treatment procedures to eliminate those problems. It is impossible to have your dog simply sit all day, waiting for the paws to cure as dogs are constantly on the go. In order to save yourself the trouble, you can start paying attention to paw care.
Make sure you never allow your dog’s nails to grow out as it later brings in unwanted problems to deal with. Fix a proper schedule either fortnightly or monthly, based on your dog’s nail growth, and have a good pedicure session. Trim those nails and clean the spaces between the toes. You can also trim any long or thick hair growth which might attract infections.
Dogs might also get hurt while playing or when they walk over sharp objects. Cuts, abrasions, and tears are very common and you need to treat them immediately with first aid. Without first aid, you are allowing the possibility of more serious bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections. So make sure to clean the area and bandage it.
During peak winter or summer times, it’s a great idea to cover up those paws with booties! You can pick up booties from your local pet store or get them online. These protect the paws and prevent any issues that arise due to these extreme weather conditions. You can also use the booties if you are taking your dog out on rough terrain.
It might sound amusing but dogs’ paws need to be moisturized too! This helps the paws stay free from dryness or cracks. You can also use soothing balms to apply on the paws before and after going outdoors to prevent any damage. It is not advised to use human moisturizers and you need to use dog-specific products.
Maintain regular checks
Simple, yet crucial. Make sure you keep a check on your dog’s paws often. It barely takes any time and you can check them at least once a week. Especially in winter or after spending outdoors, it is advisable to do a check.
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