They click on the floor announcing their arrival. They chase after squirrels in the backyard and move faster than you ever thought possible when you fill their food bowl. It’s your dog’s paws! Your dog’s paws are incredibly important, so we think it is time to pause for the paws and understand a little better how these fascinating parts work and what we as dog owners can do to take care of them.
 
PAW ANATOMY 101
Most dogs are quadruped which is a fancy, scientific way of saying your dog walks and runs on four feet! According to CanisMajor, dogs walk on their toes like a horse, not on their soles like humans. The four pads on a dog’s feet are essential for absorbing the shock of walking everyday on hard floors and cement sidewalks. They provide an element of traction so that Fido doesn’t slip and slide everywhere (though some slick man-made floors are too much for Mother Nature’s natural non-slip socks). Most dogs have dew claws (an extra nail, higher up on the leg) on the insides of their two front legs, a smaller percentage have dew claws on their hind legs and an even smaller percentage have two dew claws on their back legs. Because dew claws no longer serve a purpose, they are considered vestigial digits, though they can sometimes be helpful for holding a bone between the paws. Since dew claws are placed higher up on the leg, they do not come into contact with the ground. But it is important to remember to trim these nails as they can grow quite long and become uncomfortable for your dog. Because of the dew claws location on the leg, they are sometimes forgotten.
 
SEASONAL ISSUES
When extreme weather conditions plague us, they also plague your dog’s paws. Very hot temperatures can make pavement scalding to the touch and burn the pads of their paws. As a result, it is crucial to avoid walking your dog during the hottest times of day. Stick to early morning walks or late evening walks as the sun is setting. Likewise, the bitter cold of winter with the salt used on icy sidewalks, can all irritate your pup’s paws, not to mention upset their stomach if licked off their paws. When walking your dog in the winter, make sure to wash their paws after your walk with lukewarm water.
 
NAILING IT
Fido’s nails get naturally filed down from walking on hard floors and cement but some dog’s nails seem to grow faster than others. The longer the nails, the more likely they are to scratch your hardwood floors, your bare legs, or even your face during playtime. Long nails are also uncomfortable for your pet. To keep your pooch comfortable and to protect your skin and the furniture, make sure your dog gets regular nail trims. Trimming your dog’s nails can be tricky especially if you have a dog that despises the procedure, (most dogs do). It is important to be careful not to cut the quick of the nail which is the vein. In clear nails, the quick looks like a darkish line but in black nails it is very difficult to see. To save you the trouble, stop by Morris Animal Inn for a nail trim and a filing.
 
THE PAW LICKER
Photo Courtesy of luluemon athletica
This issue can easily become every dog owner’s worst nightmare. What starts as a seemingly innocuous habit done out of boredom can quickly turn into an obsessive routine that can turn your pup’s paw red and raw. Unfortunately, the cause of this habit can be attributed to many factors including boredom, irritation, allergies, and stress. If your dog is in an incessant paw-licker, consult your veterinarian to determine the cause.
 
If you follow some of these paw tips you will keep Fido pawsitively healthy and walking proud!