Puppy Paw and Nail Care
Appropriate puppy paw and nail care is important to the health and well-being of your puppy. Your puppy’s feet are meant to keep him moving from place to place and maintaining his feet is essential to keeping him mobile. Puppy nails continue to grow every day and unless their nails get worn down by running on concrete or asphalt, need to be trimmed to prevent them from splitting or breaking and to prevent them from injuring your puppy.
Getting Your Puppy Used to Having His Feet Handled
From the first day your puppy comes home, begin gently handling his feet so he’ll at least tolerate, if not enjoy, having his feet handled. Using light strokes, you can massage his feet, both the top and his pads. This will not only become soothing to him, it promotes excellent blood flow to his feet. Now that he’s used to having his feet handled, he’ll be more willing to have you work on his feet.
Caring for Puppy Paws
Now that your puppy is used to having his paws massaged, you can make the move to inspecting and caring for his feet. Depending on where you live, your puppy’s paws are exposed to a variety of hazards on a daily basis. Thorns, glass, sharp metal, sticks, rocks, even the salts and chemicals used to remove ice and snow from the roads, all pose problems when it comes to puppy feet.
Examine your puppy’s feet on a weekly basis to ensure that they are injury free and that a problem isn’t developing. Examine the pads and in between the pads. Look between his toes too, as thorns and burrs can work their way into your puppy’s feet and cause problems such as infection and pain. Sores can also become infected and initiate problems with his feet.
With all the wear and tear that puppies put on their feet, it is also important to occasionally use a moisturizer when massaging your puppy’s feet. There are several balms out on the market that are puppy-safe should he lick his feet. By rubbing the balm into his pads, it keeps his pads properly moisturized and less prone to injury. Even indoor puppies need occasional moisturizing on their feet as dry, indoor air and wool carpeting can take their toll on paws.
Trimming Puppy Nails
Trimming your puppy’s nails will feel awkward at first, but with practice and as he gets bigger, the job should become easier as you gain confidence. A general guideline is to trim your puppy’s nails once a month. He may require more or less, depending upon how quickly his nails grow. The most important thing to remember when trimming your puppy’s nails is to trim only little bits of the nail at a time. This will avoid nipping the quick and making the nail bleed. While a bleeding nail could potentially introduce infection into the nail, the more important aspect is that it does hurt and can tend to make the puppy resistant to having his nails trimmed. So take only little bits at a time. You can always trim off more if needed.
A healthy puppy is going to put many miles on his paws. Keeping his paws, pads and nails healthy and in good condition will help keep him running, injury-free, for a long time to come.