Now that it is finally spring again in the Toronto area, our dogs will no doubt be wading through muddy puddles and bringing all that dirt back home! Other than mud, your dog’s feet come into contact with all sorts of dirty surfaces. Grass, dirt, water, urine, feces, salt and ice melter to name a few! You will also notice that your dog often licks his paws – do we really want him licking all that yucky stuff?
Here are some great tips for keeping your dogs feet fresh, clean and safe.
1. Use Wipes: You can purchase special dog wipes at the pet store, or simply use baby wipes. Take them on walks to use for on the spot cleaning, keep them at your door and wipe off your dog’s paws before they enter the house.
2. Wash with Warm Water: Fill a container with warm water before heading out for a walk or a romp in the yard and before you let your dog inside, have him or her step in the container to rinse off any dirt or chemicals that may be on his paws. This is a great idea for salt in the winter as well!
3. Clean Between the Pads: Don’t forget a daily check of your dog’s pads and toes! Often small particles, dirt, bits of grass or other items can get stuck between the pads and toes. Ensure that you remove them and clean daily with warm water or wipes.
4. Trim Hair: in most dogs, especially those with long coats, hair grows in between paw pads. This can attract and hold debris, become thick and matted and cause discomfort. Make sure you trim this hair frequently keeping it in line with the paw pads.
5. Keep Nails Trimmed: As a dog and pet photographer in Toronto, I often look at a dog's nails. For me a sign of trimmed nails is a sign of a well cared for dog! Make sure you keep nails well trimmed to prevent discomfort to the dog. If you find this task difficult or the dog will not allow you to do this, I strongly suggest taking him to the vet or groomer. You can use positive reinforcement training to teach your dog to accept this routine, but that’s a topic for another time!
6. Doggie Boots: In Toronto we recommend using doggie boots in the winter to protect from salt or ice. But if you want nice clean feet, especially during these muddy spring days, consider using doggie boots all year round. I particularly like the balloon type of boots – they are small, light and easy to put on and most dogs will accept them without a fuss.
7. Check for injuries. When doing your daily paw check and cleaning, remember to inspect for any cuts or scrapes on and between his paws. Clean any cuts with antiseptic cleaner and if the wound is large, consider a trip to the vet.
For your dog’s comfort and safety, make checking and cleaning his paws a daily habit! Your dog will thank you for it.