Animals use their feet for walking, but their paws are also part of their defense mechanism. The pads of their feet offer additional cushion to protect their bones and joints from shock, much in the same way we wear athletic shoes when running. They also provide insulation and protection from the elements including extreme heat and cold.
While cats will usually keep their paws clean and their claws extra sharp on their own, humans should still check them from time to time. When it comes to canines, ensuring a dog’s nails and pads are healthy can be challenging.
Here are some tips on keeping all of their paws, claws, feet and toes in tip-top shape:
Paddy & Pedi
Again, felines can usually keep their claws trim and clean by sharpening and cleaning them on scratching posts but their masters should still keep a close eye on them for splitting, cracking, becoming ingrown and other painful problems. Canines are also prone to these types of painful issues and their nails should be trimmed or filed regularly. Whether you’re taking them to a professional groomer or doing it yourself, this important task should still be performed whenever you can hear their nails “clicking” on a wooden or tile surface.
Hairy & Scary
Many dog and cat breeds, especially those who have excessive hair, they may need to have this build-up of fur trimmed down around their paws. This growth of excess fur near their pads and claws can cause problems if not kept to a minimum. Besides possible matting, too much hair can cause them to slip or slide on smooth surfaces and could lead to injury if not maintained. Check with a professional groomer or veterinarian for their advice and expertise on this topic if you’re unsure.
Hot & Cold
Changes in temperature can also wreak havoc on a pet’s paws. With the heat of the summer sun, there’s an risk of burns coming from extra hot surfaces and an increase threat of dryness from this warmer weather. Consider oils, ointments and even a paw massage to ease these types of seasonal discomforts.
In the wintertime, the cold temperatures offer other risks and there’s also a danger from salt and other chemicals applied to snowy and icy surfaces that our pets can pick up on their paws. Be sure to wash off their feet after exposure to outside elements, including mud and dirt that can build up and cause infection.
Symptoms & Consequences
If a pet is experiencing problems with their paws, you’ll likely see evidence of limping or favoring one limb over another. Other signs of danger include:
●Excessive licking or cleaning of limbs or appendages
●Behavior changes like different eating or sleeping habits
●Blood, pus and/or a foul odor emanating from their feet
●Aggression if you attempt to touch or examine their lower limbs
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms or conditions you should take them to see your veterinarian immediately. If left untreated, they may begin to favor their other feet and legs that can cause muscle atrophy in the affected limb. They could also develop behavioral problems, become distant, aggressive or lethargic as a result of these problems.
With a little extra care and caution, we can keep our animals safe from foot follies that could ultimately lead to serious problems. Keep an eye on their feet year round to protect them from possible problems that can be easily be nipped in the bud.
Amber Kingsley is a former art history student turned freelance writer who lives in Santa Monica, CA. This travel junkie has a goal to visit every country in the world. She has backpacked through Europe and South America with an eye on conquering Asia next. This peppy, perky writer love Pets, art, and music.