With all of the daily wear and tear they receive, pet paws sure take a beating. Although they seem tough as nails, paw pads are actually quite sensitive and are constantly at risk of injury, burn, dryness, or cracking. The summer months can be particularly hard on them, making summer pet paw care an essential component of responsible pet ownership.
Pet Paw Risks
The well-being of your pet’s paws is important whether you’re on your daily walking route through the neighborhood, or on a weekend getaway to the beach or mountains. Some of the most common risks to paw pads include:
- Burn risks – Asphalt, concrete, sand, and even hard, packed dirt can readily soak up the sun’s rays, rising to temperatures that could easily burn paw pads. Place your palm on the walking surface to gauge the temperature; if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.
- Urban debris – Broken glass, nails, pieces of plastic or other hard trash, and spilled chemicals are only some of the paw risks you may encounter on the daily walk. Always be alert to where your dog is walking, and avoid alleys or other areas where trash tends to congregate.
- Natural dangers – Small stones and pebbles, jagged twigs, broken shells, and other debris found in the woods or along the beach can injure your pet’s paw pads if you aren’t careful.
What to Watch Out For
Some signs that your pet may be suffering from burned or injured paw pads include:
- Limping or avoiding walking
- Licking or chewing at the feet
- Paw pads appear darker in color than normal
- Visible damage to the paws, such as cracks, blisters, or redness
If you suspect your dog has burned paws, bring him or her indoors right away. Flush the paw with cold water or apply a cold compress, and keep him or her from licking the injured area. Please contact your veterinarian right away if your pet has a paw injury, as he or she may require bandaging, antibiotics, or pain medication, depending on the severity of the burn.
Summer Paw Care Tips
- Combat summer dryness – Warm weather conditions can cause dry, cracked paw pads, which are more susceptible to injury and infection from hot concrete and other risk factors. Keep the pads supple with a layer of pet-friendly, soothing paw balm applied before each walk or outing.
- Keep nails short – One of the most important things you can do to protect your pet’s paws are to keep his or her nails trimmed. Whether you do it at home, or take your pet to the groomer for a trim, keeping the nails at an appropriate length is essential.
- Shoes for dogs – Dog booties, socks, or other protective foot coverings make good shields against hot pavement or other surfaces.
- Smart exercising – Try to avoid walking on streets or sidewalks in the middle of the day, when temperatures are at their peak. Allow your dog to walk in the grass whenever possible.
Practicing good summer paw care is essential for enjoying the warm weather safely with your best pal. Give the staff at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital a call with any questions or concerns you may have about summer pet safety.