Dog Agility requires Healthy Feet

dog feet in snowEverything we do with our dogs starts with healthy feet. Without them our dogs can do nothing and extreme weather can take a real toll on them if they are not protected. Severely chapped or burned feet can take days and even weeks to heal while putting your dog in discomfort every step of the way. Frozen ground, chemical deicers and arid conditions crack, chap and dries skin. Hot weather brings burning surfaces, hot tar and more arid conditions that burn and chap as well.

Here are some helpful ideas to keep your dog’s feet safe and healthy all year so they can do all we ask of them without pain or discomfort.

  • Use a paw salve or balm during arid times, both winter and summer. Made just for dogs in order to keep their pads hydrated and protected. If you do a lot of dog agility practice on coarse ground it is important to monitor your dog’s pads year round. Once cracking starts it is hard to heal.
  • Keep paws clean.  Teaching your dog to “wash” their feet every time they come in from muddy, icy or possible chemically treated lawns can save you a lot of heartache. You can use a low sided container and have them place each paw or all at the same time into the pan. Be sure to dry them and if necessary, apply salve to keep them from chapping.
  • Keep nails trimmed. Long nails will cause your dog to travel incorrectly which will lead to strains in tendons and ligaments, especially if you ask them to run, climb and jump with long nails. If left unchecked it can cause permanent deformities or injury to their toes, feet and legs. The best tool to use is a dremel. If you need help, contact your veterinarian or experience groomer.
  • Keep fur between the toes trimmed.  This can be debated as the hair can help protect the pads from extreme heat or cold, but they also attract mats, snowballs, thorns and stickers. Keeping them neat is best, but you don’t have to trim way down between the toes.
  • Consider Booties  In areas with severe winter or summer weather where your dog could be exposed to burning surfaces or those treated with chemicals, or for dogs with allergies, booties are a serious consideration. They can be real life savers for dogs with sensitive feet and taking the time to acclimate your dog to wearing them could save you both a ton of heartache in the future.

I hope these tips and tricks keep your dog’s paws happy and healthy!