How Much Care Do Your Dog’s Paws Really Need?

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on June 1st, 2021

Many dog owners don’t think much about their dog’s paws. Those furry feet pretty much take care of themselves, right?

But, if you want your dog to have healthy, durable paws for all your adventures together, there are a few maintenance tips that can keep them in good shape. 

Mark your calendar, because Fido is in for an upcoming paw spa with these 5 tips:

#1: Puppy pedicures
Okay, your dog’s nails don’t need the full pedicure treatment, but trimming them regularly is an important grooming practice. Nails that are too long may cause your doggo discomfort when they walk. And you might already know how destructive long dog nails can be in your car or on your furniture. 

Just how often you’ll need to trim your dog’s nails will depend on how fast their nails grow as well as their lifestyle. For instance, dogs who spend a lot of time running around outdoors may naturally wear down their nails on surfaces like gravel or concrete.

You can tell when your dog needs a nail trimming when you can hear their nails clicking on hard surfaces. For the average adult dog, this is about once per month or every six weeks. 

Puppy nails tend to grow faster and will need more frequent trimming. It’s especially important to keep up this practice at a young age to get your puppy used to the potentially uncomfortable pedicure treatment. 

#2: Trim the fluff
That fur that grows between your dog’s paw pads is adorable. But if there’s too much of it, it could be causing your dog some issues.

For one thing, toe fluff that gets matted and tangled is uncomfortable and potentially painful for your pup. And, it can take away traction when your doggo is running around at the dog park. 

In cold weather climates, long paw fur can also trap balls of snow or ice. Not only do these snow balls cause a mess when they melt in your home or car, but they can make walking uncomfortable for your dog. 

Again, exactly how often your dog needs a paw haircut will depend on how quickly their fur grows. You can generally get away with clipping the toe fluff every time they have a bath, or every few months.

#3: Check between the toe beans
Doggy paws get into all sorts of stuff, which means that all sorts of stuff gets trapped in there, too. Everything from burrs to thorns to splinters can get caught in your dog’s paws, which is why it’s a good idea to get in there every once in a while with a light and a pair of tweezers.

The spaces between your dog’s toes are also prone to yeast infections and parasites like hookworm. If you notice that your dog’s paws smell particularly funky or are inflamed and sensitive to touch, you’ll want to notify your vet. 

#4: Watch out for dry paw pads
Just like our own feet, our dog’s paw pads can get dry and cracked every once in a while. During winter, this could be the result of your dog walking on ice-melting salt, while in summertime, hot surfaces can irritate and dry out the paw pads.

Leaving cracked pads untreated can lead to further discomfort and infection, so it’s best to treat it early. At your vet’s recommendation, you may be able to apply a salve or balm to your dog’s paw pads for extra moisture and protection.

And, there are some preventative measures that you can take to keep your pup’s paws safe throughout the year. Dog booties are a good way to protect your pup’s paws from hot asphalt and pad-drying road salts. When you’re out and about, you might stick to areas where you know your doggo’s paws won’t come into contact with irritating or painful surfaces. And when your dog does come into contact with ice melt, the ASPCA recommends wiping down those fluffy feet before your dog has a chance to lick their paws.

#5: Practice paw washing
Every pet owner has their own opinion about proper paw washing etiquette. Some wash their dog’s paws every time they come back from a walk outside. Others have never thought of it. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there are some advantages to cleaning your dog’s paws every once in a while.

For one, we’ve already mentioned the potential for yeast infections, bacteria, and other germs that your dog can pick up through their feet. After all, our doggos walk through some yucky stuff, and it might be a good idea to at least give them a good rinse after they’ve stepped in something particularly questionable. You might also wipe down their paws after they’ve gone splashing through some mud puddles to lower the risk of fungal infection.

If you’re on the go, this could be as simple as spraying your pup’s paws with some water and drying them off with a clean towel. This is a great practice for keeping your car clean as a dog owner, too!

If you dog does wear booties, make sure to keep them clean too! Parasites like ticks and fleas can lay eggs in fabric surfaces, so you can keep your dog’s paws safe by washing all of their gear in hot water at least a couple times per month.

With healthy paws, your dog is ready for adventure!
With some simple maintenance, your dog’s paws will be strong, clean, and ready for the road. In addition to regular paw care, you can help keep Fido safe while you’re out exploring by installing BreezeGuard Screens on your car windows. Your pup will stay safely inside while still enjoying the fresh air on their way to their next big adventure with their favorite human.

For more articles on dog care, stay engaged with the BreezeGuard Blog!

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