DOG HEALTH CONCERNS
Dog paws take a lot of beating from walking, running, jumping and playing. This sets them up for a variety of injuries including peeling pads, torn nails, broken and dislocated toes, torn dewclaws, cuts to the pads and broken bones.
With a little extra attention to your dog’s paws, most of these common injuries can be prevented, and if caught early, will heal on their own.
1. Peeling Pads
Peeling pads can be caused several ways, but the two most common are high-speed running and skidding on hard surfaces, and/or running or walking on hot pavement, which can blister the pads, causing them to peel.
“In a peeled pad, the outermost tough covering is peeled away, leaving a red, tender inner part exposed. They are extremely painful, to the point most dogs cannot bear any weight on the affected foot. Peeled pads often take a week or more to recover,” says healthypetu.com.
Your dog usually keeps his pads moist by licking and cleaning them, but his paws can still dry out and peel. You may have to start putting moisturizer on your dog’s paw to prevent peeling.
According to vetinfo.com, “You should never apply human moisturizers, as these will make them too soft for too long. This period of time, like the over-application of water, can inadvertently cause injuries in the dog foot pads. Be sure to search the market for a recommended moisturizer. A good moisturizer will protect the dog year round, and it will dry into a protective gel coating on the dog foot pads. The protective gel is like a skin-tight boot that the dog wears. It will help keep foreign objects out of the skin, and it will help ensure that the dog foot pads do not dry out.”
2. Torn Nails, Including Dew Claws
If your dog’s nails are long, you run the risk of him tearing one, which is extremely painful for your dog. Nail bed diseases can also cause the nail to drop off, exposing the core. If your dog is constantly losing nails, he may have a medical condition and will need to be checked over by your vet.
“Treatment for a broken nail consists of removing the damaged portion (if necessary), stopping the bleeding and protecting the damaged area until it heals and the new nail regrows. Broken nails need to be trimmed above the break, so that the injury can heal cleanly. This is best done by your veterinarian,” states webvet.com.
By keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, you can easily prevent them from being torn.
The same advice applies to your dog’s dew claws, which are located higher up on the leg.
Healthypetu.com states, “If dewclaws, those rudimentary ‘thumbs’ on the wrists, are present they are especially prone to getting caught on things and ripped out, and can even grow in a loop and back into the leg. Check your dog’s wrists and hocks, feeling under any long hair, to see if he has dewclaws. They are normal on the front legs but many breeders remove them at birth.”
3. Broken or Dislocated Toes
Your dog can break or dislocate his toe in a number of ways, from being stepped on, to falling while running, to being run over by a car. Regardless of how it happens, you can believe your dog is in some serious pain and will need to be seen by a vet.
According to vetsurgerycentral.com, “There are three treatment options for phalangeal fractures: primary surgical repair, splinting/casting and amputation of the digit. Surgery involves realigning the fractured bones and securing them in place with combination of plates, screws, pins and wires. Depending on the type of surgical repair that was used, a splint may be needed for four to five weeks after surgery. Casting the paw for eight to 10 weeks after surgery is another option.”
For dislocated toes, petplace.com says, “If a trauma (dislocation) has occurred, prevent your dog from using the foot, walking or bearing weight on the injured leg. Take your dog to your veterinarian for immediate attention as soon as possible after any trauma.”
4. Cuts to the Pads
You and your dog are enjoying a nice walk when all of a sudden he yelps out in pain. You look down and immediately see the problem – broken glass all over the sidewalk.
Pedigree.com offers the following advice: “First, determine if there is any debris, such as glass, in the wound. If there is, remove it. Washing the injured paw is a good idea, if clean water is available. Swishing the paw in the water could help to dislodge any small pieces of debris that might still be in the injury.”
They continue, “Stop the bleeding. Once the paw has been cleaned, apply pressure on the paw pad with a bandage or other clean and absorbent material. Try to maintain some pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops. If the cut is small, the bleeding may stop in short order. However, if the cut is very deep, you may not be able to stop the bleeding on your own—and a trip to the veterinarian’s office for expert care will be necessary.”
The best way to avoid a cut is to be aware of your surroundings. Try to get in the habit of looking down while on a walk with your dog to avoid broken glass or other debris on the sidewalk. Pay attention to where your dog goes potty, especially if he likes the comfort of tall grass.
5. Broken Bones
Dogs break bones just like we do from a bad fall or landing wrong. Broken bones occur more often in active or senior dogs.
“The primary goals of treatment are to reduce pain, lower the risk of additional accidents and avoid infection of open wounds. In all cases, there are three primary rules: Do not try to reset a fracture, do not use antiseptics or ointments on open fractures and get the dog to a vet immediately,” writes petmd.com.
For all of these injuries, a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement can help your dog heal faster while reducing pain and inflammation. Glucosamine and chondroitin strengthen your dog’s cartilage while inhibiting the growth of enzymes that can break it down.
HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.