Summer Safety for Dog Paws
By Mary Jo Nieson
A dog’s paws are open, literally, to summer dangers. The paw pad is like a sponge; it absorbs as well as releases heat through sweat. The paw pad releases the majority of a dog’s heat, the nose a small percentage only.
Hot sidewalks, especially blacktop walkways, can keep our dogs from releasing heat through their paw pads. This can burn the pads as well as contribute to heat stroke. Can you put your bare foot on the surface for 10 seconds? If not, then your dog is in danger. Always choose grassy areas if possible for walking the dog. One can be positioned on the walkway with the dog on the grass if necessary. Doggie boots are counterproductive, as they will hold the heat inside leaving the dog at risk of overheating.
Since the dog’s paw is free to absorb things from the ground, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are absorbed by the paw pad. Granules can be stuck inside the paw. The dog may be seen chewing on his irritated paws. If the fur has become discolored, then yeast (smell of corn chips is an indicator) may also have set in.
A half cup of white vinegar per gallon makes a wonderful post walk or daily foot bath. Be sure to dry the paws well. Organic cold pressed and unrefined coconut oil can be lightly applied to the pads if they still seem overly dry or irritated. Coconut oil is antibacterial and can aid in healing. Short on time? Even a cool water foot bath will help.
It is also important to read all safety information with any lawn and garden products used. A dog’s ‘out’ time for elimination needs can quickly become deadly with some products. Reducing your dog’s exposure to toxins outdoors can help prevent illness and lengthen his/her lifespan.
Mary Jo Nieson