Pet paws are often adorable, but they are also work horses. Those tiny feet take a lot of flack and are exposed to a ton of wear and tear on a daily basis. Their close contact with the environment also put them at high risk for exposure to allergens, moisture, and irritating substances. It isn’t surprising that our pets’ paws are no strangers to trouble.

With a little effort, good pet paw care can make a world of difference. Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services wants you to know what to look for when it comes to your pet’s feet, and how to help those tiny tootsies stay healthy.

Pet Paw Problems

We see our fair share of pets with paw problems. Perhaps the most common complaint is that a pet is constantly licking or chewing at his or her paws. Other symptoms of problems with the feet include redness, odor, limping, bleeding, or swelling. Common pet paw issues that we diagnose are:

  • Allergic dermatitis (your pet’s paws are exposed to lots of allergens!)
  • Bacterial or yeast infections
  • Lick granulomas
  • Food allergies
  • Mange
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Broken toenails
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Growths, such as warts, cysts, and tumors
  • Paw pad irritation, blisters, or cuts

If you have ever worn a pair of ill-fitting shoes, you know how much an uncomfortable, painful, or itchy foot can ruin your day. This makes pet paw care so important.

Pet Paw Care Basics

So what can you do to be sure your pet’s feet are happy and healthy? Pet paw care is an important part of a good care routine. Be sure to:

Keep up on nail trims – Overgrown nails can be uncomfortable to walk on and may become ingrown or snag and break (ouch!). Trim your pet’s nails regularly (every 2-4 weeks, depending on growth) and let us know if you need help.

Be a good groomer – Keeping the hair around your pet’s paws trimmed it essential to prevent slipping, allow them to dry thoroughly, and minimize contact between the skin and potential allergens or irritating substances. Wiping and/or rinsing your pet’s feet is also very helpful, especially if your pet has been in a dirty or wet environment (especially in this rainy part of the country) or if he or she is prone to allergies.

Maintain wellness visits – Bring your pet in regularly for check-ups so that potential problems can be detected sooner. Likewise, make an appointment right away if you notice anything concerning about your pet’s feet (or anything else).

Protect those feet  – Take care in the warmer months. If you can’t put your hand to a surface because it is too hot to the touch, your pet shouldn’t be walking on it. Try to encourage your pet to stick to soft surfaces, as rocks, ice, and gravel can be harsh on delicate paws. If your pet must tread unfriendly ground, a well-fitted pair of protective booties, or a protective wax like Musher’s Secret, may be warranted.

Pet paw care is very important. Without his or her feet feeling their best, your furry friend has a hard time functioning in his or her world. A little effort can help put your pet’s best paw forward each and every day.