Furry dog paws accumulate lots of dirt, mud, debris and other stuff with some frequency. It can be uncomfortable or painful for your canine companion, not to mention the mess it can leave in your home. Keep your doggie's little paws looking and feeling their best with proper grooming procedures.
Nothing makes grooming your dog's furry paws more difficult than a complete lack of cooperation on her part. It's hardest when your dog is unaccustomed to having her paws handled. Begin acclimating her as soon as you bring her home. Take her paws in your hands and rub them gently once per day, touching each toe individually. Build up gradually to handling them a few times per day. The younger your doggie is when you start this process, the easier it tends to be. Reward cooperation with praise and sometimes a treat. Start with short paw-grooming sessions of only 5 to 10 minutes, and remain upbeat and happy, no matter how hard it is. Don't try to groom all four paws at once at first; wait a few hours between sessions to allow your furry friend some time to relax. Lengthen grooming gradually sessions over time. Remember the praise and something yummy after a grooming session.
That fur on your pooch's paws is prone to tangles, matting and accumulation of all sorts of gunk. It can be dangerous if pokey things get caught in there, too. Take a paw in hand and inspect it closely. Look through the hairs, separating them with your fingers, and work through any tangled or knotted spots carefully with a doggie comb. Remove anything you see that doesn't belong there. If there are any hopeless knots, hold your pet's paw firmly in hand and snip them out carefully with dog grooming scissors. Hold the scissors parallel to your pet's paws to prevent accidental injuries. Periodically, have your groomer or vet trim the fur around the largest pad on the bottom of your dog's feet, on top of her feet and between her toes; these aspects of grooming are better left to the professionals.
Along with keeping your doggie's fur and nails nice and neat, you occasionally must clean her furry feet, too. The general recommendation is to bathe dogs once every three months. However, hot weather, extensive outdoor activities, messy mishaps and other factors may call for extra baths. Ask your vet about an appropriate bathing schedule, and an appropriate shampoo and conditioner for your pet. Work your way down from your pooch's head, washing her furry paws last in the process. Lather her hair gently, and pay close attention to her paws and between her toes when rinsing her off. If your dog happens to get something gooey or sticky on her paw fur, put some petroleum jelly on it, then wipe the area after a few minutes. For really tough sticky messes, leave some vegetable oil or mineral oil on the area overnight; the worst-case scenario calls for cutting off the affected hairs.
The nails on your doggies' furry paws must be clipped occasionally. You know it's time when you can hear the clickety-clacking of her nails on your hard surface floors. Clipping can be dangerous in inexperienced hands, though, and there's a risk of cutting the quick, or the vein that runs into your dog's nails. This is painful for your pooch and can cause quite a bit of bleeding. Let your groomer or vet handle the nail trimming and filing aspects of paw care. Also, when you're tending to your dog's paws, be on the lookout for any injuries concealed easily by particularly furry paws. Open wounds on the feet are prone to infection, so flush them with clean water and apply a vet-approved topical antibacterial product. If you notice signs of infection, like redness, swelling or discharge, a visit to your vet's office is in order.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.