Paw health is very important for cats and dogs and is something we may not always notice. Here are some basic tips for keeping your pet’s paws healthy.

Check your pet’s paws on a regular basis.  It’s easy for dirt and debris to get trapped between the paw pads and hair.  Remove any dirt, stones, and pebbles you might find, and trim any hair that has gotten long.  If your pet doesn’t like you touching their paws, go slow and give them treats along the way. This is one reason why getting kittens and puppies used to having their paws touched at a young age is helpful.

Trim your pets’ nails.  Nails that are too long can cause pain and injury for pets’ feet and legs.  If your pet’s nails make a loud clicking noise while walking, they need to be trimmed.  If you trim your pet’s nails yourself, make sure not to cut the quick, which is the red part inside the nail.  If you don’t feel comfortable trimming your pet’s nails yourself, take them to your veterinarian or to a groomer.

Be mindful of cold temperatures.  Pets’ paws are susceptible to injury during temperature extremes and can get frostbite when it is cold out.  In cold weather, minimize your pets’ time outdoors, or consider getting them booties to wear.  Be aware of your pet’s behavior while outside.  If they start limping or lifting their paws, that’s a sign that you need to get them indoors quickly.

Be mindful of hot temperatures.  In hot weather, walk your dog either during the early morning or later evening hours in order to avoid the most extreme temperatures.  A quick trick for telling if it is too hot for your pet’s paws is to put your hand on the concrete or pavement.  If it is too hot for you to keep your hand there, then it is too hot for your pet’s paws.

Remove salt in the winter time.  Salt and other de-icers are great in the winter time for removing ice and snow from sidewalks, steps, and driveways.  However, they can cause irritation to paws and in some cases, are harmful if your pet licks their paws.  If your pet has walked on an area that has been salted, gently wipe their paws off with a damp cloth.

Keep paws dry.  Wet paws can cause irritation for your pet.  If your pet has been swimming or out in the rain, dry their paws off afterwards.

If you have concerns about your pet’s paws and are not sure what to do, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for further help.