Pads of the Paw

Full Title: Pads of the Paw

Author: Cathy Bickerstaff

Date of Publication: October 9, 2012


Research Paper Text:

Pause for the Paw Pads

While humans can change out their footwear, dogs cannot. The pads of the paw provide cushion on walks. The pads also give support and serve as a protective layer. Even though the pads are tough they are not indestructible.

Injuries can occur while walking on rough surfaces, stepping on sharp objects, extreme temperatures, chemicals, or over-walking. The most common injury is an abrasion that progresses to a cut. Sharp rocks, uneven surfaces, thorns, sticks, broken glass, all pose hazards for the pads of paws.

A responsible dog owner will examine the pads periodically to check for injuries. If the dog licks the pads over and over there is a good chance there is some type of injury. Limping can also indicate something is wrong with the pads. When checking the pads, be sure and check between the pads as well. Excessive licking or biting of feet and pads can also indicate allergies especially when combined with scratching ears. The vet will need to determine if there are allergies and what the treatment plan should be.

Obviously, if there is something stuck in the pad remove it. Disinfect any area appearing abnormal – bloody, raw, etc. Open cuts should be cleansed and triple antibiotic applied. If the cut is deep, large, or will not stop bleeding, the vet will need to determine if stitches are necessary. Injuries appearing simple can become worse. Continue to check the injury every few to make sure the injury is improving or if that trip to the vet is needed. Do not be surprised if the dog licks off the antibiotic ointment.

Paw pad conditioners are available especially for hunting dogs or dogs that spend a large amount of time outside. Commercial chemical and herbal treatments help protect the paws, keep them softer, stronger, gives them a better grip. These conditioners’ antiseptic properties aide in healing minor cuts and scrapes. Conditioners generally contain some or all of the following ingredients: aloe, Shea butter, vitamins, linseed oil, beeswax, lavender, avocado oil, and peppermint.

In addition to paw pad conditioners, prevention is important in paw pad preservation. Evaluate the route, the length of the walk, the various surfaces. Avoid small gravel or other surfaces where foreign objects can be picked up between the pads. Also pay attention to the weather. If it is hot enough to fry an egg on the concrete, it is hot enough to burn the paw pads. When walking on the beach, make it along the water’s edge so the pads can be cooled by the water. In addition to inspection, paw pad massage should be a regular part of the dog’s routine. Massage increases circulation – brings nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removes waste products.

Wash the paws frequently especially after walking on salted surfaces. Washing the paws after returning inside is important for dogs with allergies. For convenience, baby wipes will do the job of washing the dog’s paws and pads.

Pause for the paw pads: regularly inspect, clean, remove debris, condition, massage, and treat if necessary.

When a dog is hot, he will pant. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like a horse. However, one sign a dog is stressed is sweating through their pads. If a dog is pacing and leaving wet paw prints, the dog is stressed. From Wikipedia

The paw is characterized by thin, pigmented, keratinized, hairless epidermis covering subcutaneous, collagenous, and adipose tissue, which make up the pads. These pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. The paw consists of the large, heart-shaped metacarpal or palmer pad (forelimb) or metatarsal or plantar pad (rear limb), and generally four load-bearing digital pads, although there can be five or six toes in the case of bears and the Giant Panda. A carpal pad is also found on the forelimb which is used for additional traction when stopping or descending a slope in digitigrades species. Additional dewclaws can also be present.

The paw also includes a horny, beak shaped claw on each digit. Although usually hairless, certain animals do have fur on the soles of their paws. An example is the Red Panda, whose furry soles help insulate them in their snowy habitat.


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