Tips for keeping dog paws healthy

From OCD to foxtail dangers and paw massages, the way a dog and its owner treats paws can affect everything from heart to legs. Check out these five tips to help improve a dog’s paw health.

Recognizing lick granuloma

People aren’t the only living beings who can develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Dogs can, too, but pet owners may mistake a pet repeatedly licking or chewing at its paws as playing around.

According to American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, lick granuloma is “a form of self-trauma where the dog continuously licks a small area, most commonly the paw that becomes raw and inflamed.” Boredom, compulsiveness and stress are key factors in why this may happen. But if the dog ingests something that is on its paws, this could turn into a dangerous situation. Never underestimate a dog paying too much attention to one area.

Tips for dog walks

Dogs that regularly run in grass, along rocks and in fields will develop a thicker paw texture for running in rougher territories. House dogs will undoubtedly have a more difficult time with this adjustment. Weather may also affect how a dog feels while traveling. Paws shares a few dog-walking suggestions for paw health:

  • spring and summer veterinary check-ups to fight off parasites (ex. fleas and ticks)
  • preventing over-exercising
  • walking in the shade
  • taking walks before sun-up or after sundown to help avoid excess heat and hot gravel/sidewalks
  • be aware of sudden limping

Be on the lookout for foxtails

Foxtail grass can be fatal, and the way a dog paws at its own body can make it worse. On top of eyes, nose and ears, according to WebMD, foxtail can insert its way between a dog’s toes. Swelling, limping and constantly licking will be noticeable. If paws are not checked regularly, foxtail can travel its way into a dog’s lungs and/or brain. This grass is so uncomfortable from contact that it can lead to abscesses, discharge, pain and swelling, in addition to fatalities. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if there are signs that foxtail is present.

Keep a clean lawn

While dogs have a habit of turning just about anything into a toy, it’s up to the owners to make sure none of these new “toys” are unsafe or in unsafe areas. Playing by railroad tracks or in fields are two notorious places that will be less sanitary and have unsafe items laying around, such as broken glass. Also, before property is purchased or a new dog is welcomed home, ask about foxtail growth. However, while homeowners and renters can keep track of their own property, that same flexibility doesn’t always extend to the rest of the neighborhood. Check paws regularly.

Keep paws moisturized

In addition to insulation against both hot and cold weather and aiding in walking on rough ground, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that paws also help to protect bones and joints from shock. For that reason, ASPCA recommends pet-approved moisturizer and paw massages. From the areas surrounding the pads of the paws and in between each toe, the paw massage should not only relax the dog but improve circulation. By doing this regularly, this will also help the pet owner know when something may be wrong. The dog finding out it has a masseuse is an added bonus, of course.