Keeping Dog’s Paws Clean & Protected

Claire Dunling

Shock absorbers to protect joints, pawing for affection and digging – your pooches paws are important for more reasons than you’d think. That’s why we are encouraging dog owners to take the time to clean and check their dog’s paws after each outing. Not only will this minimise the risk of poisoning but will also catch any infections, cuts and irritation early on and prevent further damage to your pooches precious paws.

Risks at home

When cleaning your kitchen floor, for example, be mindful of the dog walking through before it’s dried. Your dog could start grooming themselves shortly after and subsequently ingest chemicals from the cleaning detergent accidentally. This could lead to symptoms like inflammation of the mouth, vomiting, lethargy or even respiratory problems.

The garden may seem like a safe place for your pet however, seemingly harmless factors can pose a higher risk than expected. For instance, walking on grounds treated by pesticides. Getting into the habit of cleaning paws after walks will significantly minimise the risk of ingesting something poisonous when they groom themselves later.

Keeping muddy paws clean and protected

Weather dependent, they could burn their paw pads on the hot tarmac during the summer months. As a general rule, place your hand on the ground. It isn’t uncommon for vets to see dogs with blistered and broken paw pads because of hot surfaces. Plan walks during early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is at its lowest. Alternatively, you could try some outdoor boots to protect their paws. The winter months can also be tough on paw pads. Damage and irritation from de-icing salts and products can cause paws to dry out, crack, burn or can be toxic if digested by your dog.

Walks through woodland or areas with dense vegetation should be taken with caution. Foxtails or grass seed awns can burrow into your dog’s paw, causing pain and inflammation. Look out for limping, whimpering, swelling of the pad and excessive licking. You’re more likely to come across a Foxtail during the spring and summer months, so stay extra vigilant and check, clean your dog’s paws after any trip outdoors. Although rare, cases of Alabama Rot are present in the UK. The disease affects blood vessels in the skin and kidneys. Symptoms of Alabama Rot include ulcers, sores and marks on the skin of the legs or paws, or sometimes elsewhere on the body. The main danger of this disease is the potential of kidney failure. The best way to protect against this is by cleaning paws and legs after muddy walks.

Checking and maintaining paw pads

Making a habit of massaging their feet, checking in between pads for cuts, sores or splinters is a guaranteed way to maintaining perfect paw health. If you notice a foreign object, like glass or a pebble, gently tweeze out and clean the affected area. If you notice an odour, puss or any blood – visit your vet to inspect as soon as possible.

For a more thorough clean, opt for a cleansing and moisturising shampoo to cleanse your pooch’s pads in the bath. Or for a quick clean, go for easy to use wipes and sprays. Paws may become irritated, sore and cracked especially during the colder months. You can try massaging some coconut or olive oil to improve the condition at home. If the problem persists, contact your vet.

The article is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!