Dog’s paws are like all-terrain tyres – they can handle all types of surface with ease. And there is often more to them than meets the eye. Some dogs even have webbed paws. Prime examples of this are the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Field Spaniel, German Wirehaired Pointer and Portuguese Water Dog, which is why these breeds make such fantastic swimmers.
A healthy dog paw, showing pads claws and toes
Check that your dog has nothing trapped between the pads on his paws and make sure his nails are not too long or split. If you regularly exercise your dog on hard surfaces such as concrete or tarmac you might not need to trim them as they will be ground down naturally. If not, trim your dog’s nails to a comfortable length using a nail trimmer. If your dog’s nails get too long it can cause him to rock back onto his paws, which can lead to posture problems and further discomfort. You should also check for damage on the pads of the paws.
If you notice your dog chewing, licking or biting his paws it could be for a number of different reasons. He might have stepped on something that has irritated the skin on his paw, he might have cut his paw, got something trapped between the pads, or it might be the result of anxiety, stress or boredom.
Dogs sometimes get small wounds on their feet when out and about in the wilds
To prevent this potentially damaging behavior, first check for signs of damage to the dog's paw and try to relieve him of any obvious cause. Redirecting his attention with a toy as soon as he begins chewing, licking or biting will help break the habit, if that’s all it is.
A swollen paw or a limp usually indicates that your dog is in pain. They are very stoical animals, and might not show any other signs of pain. Check the underside of the paw, and look between his toes for any sign of damage or any debris that has become trapped. Check also for any puncture wounds, cuts or insect stings.
If you can’t find anything wrong with the paw, inspect his leg for a sprain or possible break. If your dog continues to limp, contact your vet for a closer examination.