Whether you keep them indoors or outdoors, dogs will, sooner rather than later, get a little dirty. Pets spend most of their time on germ-ridden floors and are constantly exposed to bacteria found in dirt, puddles, snow, and other outdoor elements. As owners, we can tell when our dogs need a bath by looking at tell-tale signs like dirty fur or foul smells; however, there is one “sign” we often pay little attention to, but it is perhaps one of the most important indicators of our dog’s hygiene and overall health--their paws!
While dog paws can endure most indoor and outdoor conditions, they can be sensitive to germs and bacteria in the environment. Paws, especially if dry or cracked, are highly susceptible to retaining bacteria and germs that can lead to discomfort, infection, and even diseases. Even if your dog spends most of their time indoors, they can still contract bacteria during their walks especially in the cold winter months. Cold climates utilize ice melters like unpurified rock salts and ferrocyanide in most municipalities in North America. Rock salts may include traces of toxic metals such as mercury and lead while ice melters contain poisonous chemicals that may be ingested if your dog licks their paws.
A weekly paw-cleaning routine can help improve your dog’s hygiene and most importantly, improve their overall health and happiness. Luckily, keeping your dog’s paws clean and healthy is not a difficult task. Here are some easy-to-follow steps for a complete paw treatment guaranteed to make your dog wag its tails with joy:
Before you bring your dog inside for a paw inspection, set up a cleaning station with all the necessary dog grooming products. Setting up a paw cleaning station does not have to be too complicated, it is just about keeping the basics handy to make the process easier for you and your dog. What are the basics?
Use disinfecting wipes to sanitize the cleaning station area before you start, and make sure to clean your paws first.
Start by gently wiping your dog’s paws with a towel soaked in warm water. Get rid of any excess dirt by cleaning their paws on the surface (pads) and between digits, or “toes.” If your dog has long hair covering their paws, trimming might be a good idea to help you check for ticks and lesions. Be careful not to trim too much though, as hair helps protect the pads from the elements.
While trimming your dog’s nails (claws) may not be entirely easy, your dog’s nails can store dirt and bacteria just like your human nails do. It is crucial you keep their nails short and clean. But, how often should you be trimming their nails? A reliable sign that your dog may need a “pawdicure” is if you hear their claws clicking on a hard surface like you would hear heels. Using either the scissor or guillotine type clippers, snip off small bits of each toenail until the desired length. If the nail feels spongy or if it starts bleeding, stop immediately. Naturally, dogs detest getting their paws handled, so treats may be useful during this process.
Once excess hair and nails are out of the way, it’s time to use a special dog paw cleaner to thoroughly clean and protect your dog’s paws. Unlike a rag in warm water, dog paw cleaners are specially formulated to kill 99.9% of all bacteria and germs that dogs carry. Additionally, paw cleaners can prevent the passing of harmful parasites to other pets and members of your family. Use dog paw cleaners that alcohol-free and non-toxic for the best results.
Make sure your dog’s paws stay protected with moisturizing balms made with natural ingredients. A natural dog paw moisturizer can help prevent cracked paws, inflammation, and skin irritation, among other conditions that may lead to severe health problems.
For more information and tips on how to keep your pets healthy and happy, check our blogs.