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How To Care For Your Dog’s Paws

How to Care for Your Dog's PawsHumans aren’t the only ones who need their feet tended to. Dogs need regular pedicures too.

The canine nail grows constantly, as does the human fingernail. Wild canines, like wolves and foxes, wear down their nails naturally as they travel through the wilderness in their daily lives. Dogs, on the other hand, lead more pampered lives and need help keeping their nails at a proper length. This is especially true of smaller, lighter breeds who don’t have the body weight to help wear down their nails.

Also, because dogs walk barefoot, they are prone to develop issues with their paw pads. Dogs with long hair are especially at risk of having problem with their paws because of the hair that grows between their toes.

Perfect Paws

To keep your dog’s paws in good shape, inspect them at least once a week. Look for cracked pads, burrs, foxtails, and other objects that may have become lodged between your dog’s toes.

If you find deep cracks in your dog’s paw pads that are painful to the touch, contact your veterinarian. Your dog may need medication to help them heal. Don’t worry if he has hard calluses, however. Active dogs have callused paw pads because they use them a lot.

Next, look in between your dog’s toes. If you see burrs and foxtails tangled in the fur, place a dab of Cowboy Magic® Detangler & Shine™ on the affected area and work the object out of the hair using your fingers.

Trimming Nails

If you’ve ever seen a dog with overgrown nails, you have an idea of how uncomfortable this condition can be. Long nails on a dog cause the paw joints to twist to the side. The dog’s toes may also be forced into an unnatural upward position. If nails are allowed to stay overgrown for a long time, the dog may develop abnormalities in his gait and other parts of his body.

The frequency in which your dog needs his nails trimmed depends on his breed, his body type and his activity level. All dogs should have their nails evaluated at least once a month to determine if they need trimming.

You’ll know your dog needs his nails trimmed if you hear clicking or scratching when he walks on a hard surface. If his nails are curled and turn out to the side, they are way overdue for a trim.

If you want to trim your dog’s nails, these are the tools you will need to have on hand:

  • A nail trimmer – You can buy nail trimmers made specifically for dogs at pet supply stores.
  • Styptic powder – Get this at a drug store or online. It’s good to have on hand in case you cut the nail too close and it starts to bleed.
  • Elevated table – You’ll need a stable, secure table you can put your dog on so you don’t have to bend over him when you are working.
  • Treats – Have some of your dog’s favorite treats on hand so you can reward him for good behavior.

Once you have your supplies ready, follow this plan:

  1. Look closely at each one of your dog’s nails. You want to find out where the quick is located in the nail. (The quick is the vein that runs from the toe into the part of the nail.) The quick is easy to see in dogs with light-colored nails. In dogs with dark nails, you may need a flashlight held up to the nail to see it.
  1. Start with one paw, and cut off just the tip of one toenail. Remind yourself of where the quick is located, and then cut some more. Repeat this until you have just a small amount of nail left between you and the quick.
  1. If you accidentally cut in to the quick, don’t panic. Just put a little styptic powder on the tip to stop the bleeding. Give your dog some treats to get his mind off what happened, and then start again.
  1. Go to the next nail on the same paw and repeat the process. Finish up the entire paw, then give your dog a rest.
  1. If your dog is squirming and objecting, try using more treats to show him this is a good thing. If he’s not buying it, wait until he settles down, handle his paw for a minute without doing any cutting, and then let him down if he cooperates. You can go back to trimming the other paw the next day.
  1. Once the nail trimming job is complete, tell your dog what a wonderful guy he is. That means lots of treats, or even a game of fetch.

If you keep an eye on your dog’s toenails and trim them whenever necessary, your dog will get used to the process. His feet will look good and be healthy, too.

If your dog is completely uncooperative, or if you are afraid to do the work yourself, you can ask a veterinarian or professional groomer to trim your dog’s nails for you.