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Protect your dog’s paws

Almost everyone has experienced the unpleasant sensation of standing on a very hot road. How many of us realize the road can be just as dangerous and painful for our dogs?  Hot pavement, debris and grasses can burn and injure a dog’s paws. Those of us who are dog lovers want to take our dogs along on outings; however, the summer months can be dangerous for dogs.  Walking on HOT pavement, gravel, dirt, blacktop, driveways, streets and parking lots can get really hot and burn your dog’s paw pads.  This also includes the back of a pick-up truck (which we do not recommend you put your dog in the back of a truck, ever!), a boat dock, or any metal surface gets hot and the pads of your dog's feet need to be protected from burns and blisters.

The pads can also get injured from broken glass and other debris while you're out on walks.

Also, watch out for foxtails this summer; these dried grasses can penetrate into a dog’s paw and other areas. There are several great ways to keep your dog's feet protected from the scorching summer temperatures and still take your dog with you!

Other Facts about Paws

Paws not only get them from place to place, they also help regulate body temperature. Dogs

breathe through their feet and cool themselves through the middle sections of their pads (and

their tongue).

Extreme elements can cause severe injury on dog paws, such as hot pavement, hot sand,

sharp bits of ice, or chemicals used to melt the frozen water, so it is essential to take care in

protecting dog's paws. While winter cold and summer heat often mean extra care of dog paws, it is necessary to protect the animal's feet year-round. For example, dogs that frequently run around parks or in your backyard can pick up small pebbles between paw pads or cut their pads on sharp twigs or rocks.

Signs of burned pads include:

• limping or refusing to walk

• licking or chewing at the feet

• pads darker in color

• missing part of pad

• blisters or redness

• whining and or heavy panting may be a sign of pain

How to Deal with Injuries

It is important to keep the foot area cool and clean. As soon as you notice the problem, flush the  pads with cool water or a cool compress if available. Get the dog to a grassy area, or if possible,  carry him. As soon as possible, the dog should be checked by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will determine if the dog needs pain medication and/or antibiotics.


Only if you cannot get the dog to a veterinarian right away, if a heat-related foot pad injury  does occur, you should take the following measures to prevent infection in the dog's injured  paw:

👉Wash the dog's injured paw pad using antibacterial soap and rinse thoroughly. Pat the injured foot with a clean towel to dry the area.

👉Pour an antiseptic like betadine (preferred) or hydrogen peroxide over the burned, blistered or cut paw pad and allow the liquid to air dry. (Note: Hydrogen peroxide can damage tissue and delay healing. After the initial cleaning, hydrogen peroxide must be used at half-strength, with  50% water added. This is why betadine is preferred.)  Do not use alcohol, it burns!

👉Apply a generous amount of antibiotic ointment to the site of the dog's foot pad injury.  Wrap the  paw and ankle with rolled gauze. Roll the gauze in a "figure 8" pattern, looping around the paw and ankle to prevent the bandage from slipping off.

👉Cover the bandage with a sock, placing a bit of tape around the dog's leg at the sock's ankle to  hold the sock in place. The sock will prevent soiling of the foot bandage. Typically, bandaging is not recommended for a dog's injury as the limited air flow can promote  the growth of anaerobic bacteria. But paw pad injuries are an exception to this rule, as without a  bandage, the injured paw pad will be contaminated with bacteria and irritated by debris.

👉Bring the dog to the veterinarian for an examination! Antibiotics are often prescribed for a  paw pad cut, burn or sore due to the high risk of infection. Paw pad burns and cuts are very prone to infection, so visiting the veterinarian is very  important. A more thorough cleaning may need to be performed under anesthesia; removal of  dead tissue may also be necessary to allow for healing to occur. Antibiotics are often required  for complete healing; a visit to the vet is even more vital when more than one paw is involved,  which is often the case with foot pad burns.

Prevention is the Key

Dog owners can take many precautions to prevent burns and injury to a dog's paw pads. Some of these preventative measures are designed to prevent pad injuries will also make the dog less vulnerable to other summertime pet dangers, like canine heat stroke and sunburn.  Here are  some ideas to protect your dog:

👉Walk the dog in the early morning or evening to avoid paw pad burns. Avoid walking the dog in the heat of the day, when the sun beats down, heating the pavement and sand.

👉Walk the dog on the grass. The grass remains cooler than the sidewalk, lessening a  dog's chance of paw pad injuries in the summer. This makes a trip to a shady park a good option for an afternoon walk in the summertime.

👉Take frequent dog walks on the pavement during cool times of day. This will help toughen a dog's paw pads by promoting the formation of callus. This makes the skin of the dog's foot pads thicker and less prone to injuries like burns and cuts. Dogs that seldom walk on pavement will have more sensitive pads and they require more frequent nail clippings, as walking on pavement files the dog's nails.

👉Moisturize the dog's paws on a daily basis. Keep a dog's paws well moisturized with Vaseline or a special paw pad balm or cream.  Moisturizing the dog's paw pads will prevent cracking,  peeling and minor pad cuts. These injuries will cause the dog's pads to become more sensitive once healing is complete, so preventing injury is the key.

👉Feel the pavement before you take your dog for a walk. If the pavement is extremely hot  to the touch, it will be extremely hot on your dog's paw pads.

👉Take your dog to your veterinarian or a professional groomer (or have it done yourself on the regular basics) to have her nails trimmed regularly. Overgrown nails can interfere with your dog's gait and can split, causing pain and bleeding. Severe cases can curl under and grow into the pad of the paw.

👉Inspect your dog's paws daily after following any outdoor adventure; small pebbles and other items can become lodged between your dog's paw pads.

👉Do not put booties on your dog; dogs breathe through their feet and cool themselves through the in between of their pads and their tongue. If you put booties on them, you shut down more than half of their ability to cool themselves.

👉A dog that has been in the water for a while is more easily injured due to pads that have

been softened.

👉Never take an animal to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water for him/her to drink. Rinse his/her off after she has been in salt water.

👉Always provide plenty of shade for an animal staying outside of the house. A properly  constructed dog house serves best. Bring your dog inside during the heat of the day and let him/her rest in a cool part of your house. Always provide plenty of cool, clean water for your dog.

👉Please be sensitive to old and overweight animals in hot weather. Brachycephalic (snubnosed) dogs (especially bulldogs, Pekingese, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shihtzus) and those with heart or lung diseases should be kept indoors in air-conditioning as  much as possible.

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