Paws for Thought – Caring For Your Pet’s Feet

Pet paws, with their fuzzy and sometimes thick and leathery pads seem pretty tough to us. Our pets go tromping across terrain that we need a pair of hiking boots to even consider approaching! They might be tougher than our bare feet but they still need cared for properly. Do you know what threats, remedies, and precautions you need to take to protect your pet’s paws?

Caring For Your Pet’s Paws

  • Claws – Some people don’t realize how important keeping a pet’s claws trimmed is. It’s not just for your comfort or aesthetic reasons. In the wild, many animals claws will be worn down naturally by digging and making their way across rocks. In the domesticated world this natural “trimming” often doesn’t occur as often, or even at all. When trimming you have to be careful about trimming too short and cutting the “quick” in the nail. This can hurt your pet and cause bleeding. If you’re not comfortable regularly trimming your pet’s nails be sure to ask your vet at your next appointment!
  • Frostbite – Pets exposed to freezing temperatures for prolonged periods of time can experience frostbite, which is a damaging of the tissue, often leading to the tissues “death”. It can be very painful, and also very dangerous if left unrecognized and treated. Paws are a common place to see frostbite on pets since they are less insulated and in direct contact with ice, snow, or water. Check out the common symptoms and treatments here.  If you’re taking your pet out in very cold weather, keep it brief and keep their paws dry – or consider a pair of booties!
  • Burns – Summertime can make your pet at risk for burns on the bottom of their paws. Asphalt that has baked in the summer sun all day and even rocks or sand can cause damage. When taking your pet for a walk ensure they have grass, dirt, or some other alternative to hot surfaces to walk. You can also plan your walks for early morning or late evening.
  • Thorns & Cuts – Never ignore your pet if they seem to be favoring a paw either by limping, or paying extra attention to it with their tongue. Outdoor adventures, even within an urban environment can lead to cuts, splinters, or even thorns. Left unattended these can fester and become a much bigger problem for your pet.
  • In Rabbits – Rabbits, especially those who have cages with wire bottoms or hop around on smooth surfaces frequently are prone to a special paw ailment – sore hocks. Sore hocks occur on the back feet of rabbits and can be very dangerous if left untreated. They begin as bald spots on the bottom of the foot that wear away to open sores and infections. Keep a sharp eye on your bunnies hind feet to spot the symptoms!

Neosporin is a great treatment for many mild foot ailments. It is safe for use on most pets (including rabbits). Remember to regularly pay attention to your pet’s paws and see your vet regularly!

photo credit: Mic the otter spotter, going slow Pixie paws via photopin (license)

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