PADS ON DOGS
In today’s article I’d like to give you some basic tips for taking good care of your dog’s pads as well as commenting on different aggressions to which his feet are exposed, especially in summer.
I have no doubt that all the readers of my blog take very good care of your dog, you have a good control of their oral hygiene, a regular brushing of the hair, good antiparasitic control and vaccines in rule, among many other things. But I’m sure more than one of you has missed a good look between your dog’s fingers.
Do not forget that our dogs do not wear shoes, so walking “barefoot”, are exposed to certain aggressions in their plantar zone that go unnoticed by not being checked regularly.
The pads are a very important part of our dogs because if they are not in perfect condition will have pain while walking. Can you imagine having to walk barefoot with a burn on the foot? Or worse, with a cut. What a pain!
What are dog plantar pads made of?
Dog plantar pads are a very specialized tissue structure. It has a thick epidermis that protects it from mechanical trauma, fat deposits that give it elasticity to absorb shocks and a great innervation that gives it great sensitivity on the ground.
The healthy pads must always be in perfect state of hydration and be elastic to cushion the blows when walking on any terrain. If they are not in perfect condition, they may become dry and cut easily. Believe it or not, this is very painful, as there are many nerve endings in the pads of dogs that will make any wound cause very intense pain.
The pads of dogs have to suffer extreme temperatures (cold or heat), to walk on very hot asphalt, rocky soil or full of plants, and so on. These factors can cause the pad to dry out, resulting in wounds, cracks and even pus-filled abscesses from a foreign body that becomes embedded (e.g. spikes). In addition, bacterial infections, fungal infections and even systemic illnesses can appear.
It is important to control and take care of the plantar pads in a routine way. Keep in mind that there are very hard dogs that are injured in the pads during a trip to the field but still in pain, they keep running. They are all champions! Still, many of them will later have extreme pain and walk differently in their usual way.
For those of you who have a long-haired dog it is also important to control the hair in this area. Long-haired dogs have too much hair growing on the pads and when in contact with the ground they are more easily entangled forming hard to remove knots. Therefore, it is also recommended to cut these hairs avoiding that the knots at the end damage the area of the pads thus preventing them from walking normally.
It is not as easy as it seems to remove hair from this area because you have to be careful not to damage the fingers of the animal (the knots are usually practically attached to the skin) and also be especially careful with the spur (the finger that is always on top) in those who have, because you could cut it unintentionally.
If in doubt, take it to a canine hairdresser to remove all that hair without causing any damage to your paw.
The most important advice I am going to give you is to try to harden that pad little by little and thus avoid possible future damage. The ideal is to work daily and to do progressive exercise, and this way avoid that later, after a more intense exercise, is damaged. As the pad is trained, it hardens more and more and becomes more resistant to external abrasions.
You have to think that a city dog practically walks on “carpets” all the time, because inside the house there are no abrasive floors and the sidewalks are quite smooth. If that dog, that obviously is not prepared, we take it one day to make a long excursion by hard, rocky grounds, etc. it is going to happen quite badly and it will be enough days with a pain that will practically prevent it from walking.
Burns and abrasions on the pads
Burns and abrasions can be very painful as dogs have a lot of sensitivity in this area. You have to be very careful now that the summer begins because many times we stop at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings in the sun without realizing that our animal is on an asphalt that literally “burns” and without shoes, hoping to follow his step.
I myself have seen little dogs at the traffic lights with their owners very nervous and without stopping moving probably because the pads were burning. And when we wear shoes we don’t notice so much that the ground burns.
Cracks or dryness in the pads
On the other hand, cracks may appear due to rubbing or dryness. They must be cured and the area must always be kept clean. To avoid this, there are different exclusive veterinary products on the market (creams and ointments) that hydrate the pads.
Never use a pharmacy product and do not abuse, because as I said before a healthy pad is an elastic cushion and nourished but also hard. These products should never be applied on a damaged pad as they only serve to avoid later problems.
Another problem that I have mentioned above is the ears. The spikes are a silent enemy of dogs as they can enter between the fingers and not hurt at first. Afterwards, they migrate under the skin producing fistulas, abscesses, etc. In these cases, the veterinarian will treat the infection but always eliminating the foreign body, since if it is not extracted, it will not be completely cured.