I recently adopted a new puppy and what a joy it has been! A mix breed of Labrador and shepherd, our new family addition has been a joy to play with and a challenge to train. Chewing everything in sight has become his alternative to playing with toys and watching butterflies in the backyard.
As I learned about the dynamics of caring for our new puppy, there was one such aspect of dog care that I was not so familiar with; the care of nails and paws. In my research, I learned a few techniques that I’d like to share to assist other dog and puppy owners to ensure proper maintenance of the dog’s most important body part; the feet.
When our new puppy arrived home, the first thing we did, obviously, was play with him almost to a point of exhaustion; ours, of course, and not his. In my research of paw care, I took the play time as an opportunity to make a special effort to caress and play with his paws. Since a dog’s paws are the most important aspects of his body, many will not willingly allow you to touch them. Taking time to caress and play with the puppy’s paws, every day, will help him become more open to the touch of his feet.
Because my new puppy has some medium length hair growth, it will be important to keep his hair trimmed around his feet and especially under his feet. I’ve learned the pads of his feet can easily become injured or infected with debris when hair accumulates around the footpads. Regular clipping of the hair, with small scissors, will go a long way in improving my puppy’s paw health. Also, when clipping hair around the footpads, I learned I should check deep within the pads to be sure there are no pieces of glass, asphalt, splinters or thorns creviced deep into the pads as these can create a significant amount of pain and cause my dog to limp and walk with an abnormal gait.
And, finally, my favorite part; trimming the dog’s nails. This is the most challenging part of puppy and dog care, in my opinion. Dogs, as a general rule, do not enjoy having their nails cut. However, it is crucial to maintaining foot health in your dog. The first time I cut the puppy’s nails, I cut into an area called the “quick” of the nail which is the live area, full of nerve endings and blood flow. I quickly learned that I had cut the nails too short. As a result, I went back and researched nail cutting and found that I should have only cut the area around the quick. Using specialized dog nail clippers will provide optimal results when facing the challenge of nail clipping your family dog.
As with any pet care process, taking your time and researching the proper method will work to ensure the best health to your dog. With new puppies, any type of dog grooming technique can be frightening. For this reason, using specialized veterinarian and grooming tools is highly recommended. When unsure or nervous about a process, always consider using a dog grooming professional rather than practicing grooming in your own home.