No Feet No Dog Agility
There is a saying in the horse world that goes like this, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of the shoe the horse was lost. For want of the horse the battle was lost. For want of the battle the war was lost and all for the want of a horse shoe nail. The same can be said for our dogs that compete in dog agility. All it takes is one cut to your dog’s foot and the whole competition will be lost.
Not all competition rings are nicely mowed grass under a clear blue sky. Many times, especially in winter and spring, competitions are held inside. That can mean AstroTurf, horse arena sand or if they are held outside it could mean mud and even snow. Your dog’s feet are coming into contact with abrasive surfaces and dry weather that can lead to sore, cracked and even cut pads. This will bring a screeching halt to your agility for a day to weeks while your dog’s feet heal.
Not all dogs succumb to these problems as many have strong, acclimated pads able to take the abuse. But for the rest of us we need to take special care or one of our dog’s greatest assets. It is tough as you cannot run your dog in booties for safety reasons so instead you need to prepare your dog for the surfaces you may encounter at competition. This can entail treating your dog’s pads before and after a competition. Keeping your dog’s hair trim and check for foreign objects lodged between the pads or stuck in the fur before you run. After your run be sure to check their feet again. This is a great way to detect broken toenails or toes as well.
Proper care of the feet before competition should include monitoring and treating dry pads with either store bought products or the use of coconut oil. Be sure to dry your dog’s feet after working in damp conditions which could include an early morning walk in dew covered grass. You can also expose your dog to more “abrasive” surfaces such as sand and pavement (as long as it isn’t hot) to help toughen up your dog’s pads. Do it slowly as you don’t want to sore them.
And if you find your dog gets a cut due to ground conditions or equipment, spray bandages work great. Cuts on paws are a pain in the butt to heal, but I’ve found that spray-bandages a half-dozen times a day (it wears off very quickly) works great. It is also less likely to drive your dog insane than a bandage on his foot. Liquid bandage will help keep the cut closed and clean. Obviously, a broken toe or toenail will need medical help by your vet as soon as possible.
So remember to pamper your agility dogs from head to toe literally. Keep their pads moisturized in dry conditions and dry and clean in wet conditions and in all weather be sure to check their feet on a regular basis for foreign objects and dirt that could rub them raw. But don’t over pamper, get them out on different surfaces to help toughen up those feet so they can enjoy every run.