PSA: Paws can be sensitive parts of a dog’s body. With hotter temperatures and debris on outdoor trails, summer, in particular, can do a number on your dog’s feet. We’ve compiled these tips for protecting your dog’s paws so you and your pup can hoof it together all summer long.
Help your dog become comfortable with paw care
The first and most important step in protecting your dog’s paws is ensuring they are comfortable having their paws handled. If you are able to examine their paws after an outing, you’ll be much more likely to identify a potential problem before it becomes an issue. You’ll also be in a much better position to provide paw care for your dog in the event that something goes wrong. This will be easiest if your dog associates having their paws touched with something fun. Teaching your dog a trick involving their paws is a great way to accomplish this. They’ll get comfortable with you touching their paws and earn treats for learning some fun party tricks while they’re at it.
Let’s start with one of the basics. Handshake is an easy trick to teach and a crowd-pleaser:
- Start by deciding which hand you’d like your dog to shake. Hold one of their favorite treats in that hand, in a fist.
- Present the fist to your dog and let them sniff it. Their natural curiosity will kick in and they’ll try to figure out how to get the treat. Your dog may sniff, nose, or lick your hand, but hold it steady.
- The moment they paw at your hand to get the treat, say “yes,” open your hand, and give them the treat. Repeat this process a few times until they get the knack of it.
- From here, position your shaking hand like you’re counting to four. Once your dog has the hang of things, try it without a treat under your thumb.
It’s that simple.
Paw protection musts
Once your dog is comfortable having their feet handled, you can start a paw care routine:
- Check your dog’s paws. No matter the weather, all sorts of small things can get stuck between the pads on your dog’s feet. From pebbles to small twigs and foxtails, debris can make walking uncomfortable.
- Wipe ’em down. After you and your pup return home from an outing, grab a wet paper towel or washcloth and gently wipe down their paws. This will protect your dog’s paws by removing any debris they may have tracked.
Try to avoid the sidewalk during the hotter parts of the day during the summer. Take to the sidewalk during early morning or evening when it starts cooling down. Otherwise, stick to areas where your dog can walk in the grass. Asphalt can measure over 100 degrees even when it’s in the mid-’70s outside.
Protect your dog’s paws with boots
If you can’t avoid sidewalks during your dog’s walks, another good way to protect your dog’s paws this summer is with a good pair of dog boots. Dog boots are extremely versatile and are made in a variety of styles to fit your life. You can find mesh boots to protect against hot pavement or opt for more heavy-duty footwear if you’re interested in hiking with your pup. In addition to daily protection, boots are great if your dog is recovering from an injury.
Not all pups will take to wearing dog boots right away. It’s best to take things slow. Build a positive association with the boots by always doing something fun when your dog has them on. This could be as simple as giving your dog some tasty treats or breaking out their favorite toy. To start, only ask your dog to wear boots for a few minutes at a time, and slowly build up the time they spend wearing them. It will take them some time to get used to the feeling of wearing something on their feet, but it will be worth it once the sidewalks warm up.
We may not always think about paw care until it is too late. By getting your dog comfortable with their feet being handled you can take steps to prevent injury or irritation to keep your dog active and happy.
This article was originally written by our partners at Spot On.