K9 Corner, Oct. 3

Published 8:16 am Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Foot care is important any time of the year. In the spring there is mud as well as grass clippings. Summer encourages dogs to run, dig and go places where canine angels fear to tread. Fall brings dry leaves that can conceal acorns, walnut shell pieces and even nails from home repairs, and finally, winter comes with road salt and icy sidewalks where the dog can slip and fall as well as have ice balls form between the pads. That is why weekly foot inspections should be scheduled.

Some summertime foot ailments include blisters from running on hot concrete or pavement. If your dog is tender-footed and you want him to accompany you on early evening jogs, you may need to teach him to wear boots like the sled dogs do when they travel over ice. Eventually the foot pads will toughen and the boots can be stored until next summer.

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Grass awns can work their way into the foot causing infections. Grass awns have barbs and are difficult to remove. Those that are deeply embedded may need surgery for removal. Other objects that can get trapped between the pads are sand, gravel and even an acorn. Watch your dog and check if you notice her licking her feet excessively.

If your dog has stepped into tar or other sticky substance, you have to trim the fur on the bottom of the foot. Tar is tricky to remove. Use only baby oil, petroleum jelly or mineral oil to soften the sticky material. When one of my dogs stepped in some driveway sealer, I clipped the hair using blunt nosed scissors and placed a piece of cotton soaked in baby oil between the pads to soften the remaining sticky lumps. I wrapped the entire foot in a bandage to hold the cotton in place. Two hours later, I removed the bandage and wiped off the rest of the sticky substance with a gauze pad. 

There are two “Nevers” to remember when your dog walks in tar: 1. Never leave residual tar on the foot as it will attract and hold dirt and sand.  2. Never use turpentine or kerosene to remove tar, both will burn the feet.

Home bound pets and farm dogs are not the only ones that have foot problems. I had two show dogs that developed fungus of the foot after shows. The first dog I treated to a fungicide foot bath as soon as we arrived home and kept her crated at the show except when being judged. The second dog’s toenails were involved and it took oral medication as well as fungicide to cure him.

Dogs instinctively do not like their feet to be handled. Teach them to accept your touching the feet while playing or grooming and praise and reward when the dog allows even the briefest touch. It is a beginning and nail trimming will be next.