Paws for thought

08 Feb

‘Yikes’ and ‘Ouch’ or words to that effect!!

You know that pain when you take your first steps on a hot beach? Well that’s what it’s like for a dog walking on hot pavement. And if their nails are overgrown, the pain is even worse!

Caring for the feet (paws) of our furry friends is an often-overlooked aspect of their healthcare, yet it is a crucial one. A dog’s pads provide cushioning to help protect bones and joints from shock. They also provide insulation against extreme weather, aid walking on rough ground, and help protect tissue within the paw. With all that work to do, it’s no wonder your furry friend’s paws take quite a beating.

Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground nor should they click when they walk across the floor. If they become too long, it can become painful for them to walk and they may take on an altered posture, which can negatively affect their body over time.

Many dogs have chronically long nails because trimming them regularly becomes too stressful for both dog and owner. If it's time for a trim and you don’t feel able to do yourself, either ask your vet or groomer to do it. At the Spotted Dog, nail trimming is included as part of our grooming service.

One of the most common causes of paw injuries is hot pavement, a regular occurrence of course here in the Algarve! At a 25 degrees air temperature the pavement can be as hot as 52 degrees, which is hot enough to cause severe burns to your dog’s paws. Obviously, it’s best to avoid walking your dog between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. When it’s hot, stick to shady areas. Always check the temperature of the pavement by placing the back of your hand against it. If it feels hot to you, it’s going to be too hot for your dog.

It’s normal for your dog’s paws to feel dry to the touch. If they are too soft and conditioned, they will not be well suited to protecting your dog from rough terrain. However, if your dog’s paws are too dry, they can become cracked and bleed. If your dog’s paws are slightly cracked, but not bleeding, ask your vet for a good moisturizer and use as directed. Avoid human hand moisturizer, as this can over-soften the pads and lead to problems.

Foreign objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between toes for grass seed, pebbles, and other debris. These pesky items can usually be removed with a pair of tweezers but if they’re embedded, take your dog to the vets.

Similar to giving a human a hand massage, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rub between each toe. Your dog will be forever grateful for the extra care and it’s a great way of getting them used to their paws being handled, making it easier to clip their nails and inspect their paws.

When your dog’s paws are itchy, they’ll typically lick them, and you may see reddish brown discolouration on the fur between their toes. Itching can often be caused by food or environmental allergies. If the cause of the allergy is obvious, symptoms should cease within a few days of minimizing your dog’s exposure. When you are unsure of why your dog is itchy, you should see your vet.

More information on caring for your dog and the benefits of professional dog grooming is available on our website at  We provide professional dog grooming and pet care services throughout the eastern and central Algarve.

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