Protect those Paws & Pads
Some dogs have soft feet and others have tough feet, but all athletic dogs can benefit from pad care and prevention. Cracked and cut pads can make it painful and difficult for them to do their job. Medical prevention helps maintain their healthy pads to keep them winning and hunting.
For a sled dog, healthy feet are important ingredients for winning the race. The cold weather of winter and rough surfaces cause issues with cracked and peeling pads on the feet. There is also more irritation of the pad/skin interface where peeling starts. Both of these hurt and will cause dogs to be lame or limp hard on rocky surfaces.
If there's one animal that likes hunting more than humans, it's a bird dog! A good bird dog can hunt vigorously while simultaneously enduring considerable pain - a pointer who loves hunting will literally “hunt their pads off” if you're not careful. The biggest reason for torn up pads is rough, rocky country. If your training ground fits the rocky description, maintaining their pads will be critical – ointment and pre-hunting workouts on hard surfaces will help toughen pads. However, don’t overdo the hard surface roadways, to avoid joint trauma and arthritis.
The footpad is actually a huge, thick callus that heals quickly with care. If we can give them a week break from training, we can heal a pad injury. Long-term treatment is not an option for athletes, so prevention is essential. Any limp should be examined and watched closely. Examine their feet regularly and if the pads are showing wear, apply a thin coat of super glue with your finger to the pad surface. For more advanced abrasions, apply moleskin to the glued surface for extra padding, then boot the dog. Boots are beneficial, but read the directions first. Most boots are designed to go over wraps
and if they're applied over bare feet, they won’t stay on or will rub against the abrasion. The dressing technique is super glue, moleskin, wrap and boot - this should keep you hunting without issues.
Oral glucosamine and chondroitin, such as Doc Roy’s Aches Away
, will increase the joint fluid, easing fatigue and trauma. The result of both is a pad and joint system that will give to the concussion trauma of running. Pain-free running will keep the athlete placing their feet correctly, which decreases the wear on their joints. Aggressive hunting or racing is the result. This is especially helpful for sled dogs, older hunting dogs and rough terrain hunting dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin need 30 days to get the full benefit, so start early enough that they can benefit from the protection. Prevention from the inside out is also important - use fatty acids
with a balance of Omega 3 and 6. Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory effects that helps keep trauma, ulcer or a deep cracks in check while Omega 6 will keep the tissue soft and the pad pliable.
House dogs have a different set of issues. Salt and other snow melts will dry out the pad, causing cracking and licking. Be sure to wash winter ice melt off your dog's feet when you get home and apply a moisturizer like Mega-Tek Pet Rebuilder
. Mega-Tek will moisturize and heal the chemical damage. House dogs usually need boots or socks to prevent excessive licking and chewing of the pad. Children’s socks work, but one warning. This year I put 4 socks on our dog, and when she ventured from carpet to hardwood floors, feet went everywhere! She did learn to handle it quickly, but it was the funniest thing she has done in her 9 years.
By keeping your dog's paw pads protected, you can ensure your dogs stay active throughout the winter months - and that's a win for both owner and athlete!
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
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