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Understanding how your dog’s paws operate and how to best maintain them is critical for your dog’s overallhealth and well-being.While the eyes, ears and tails of your dog may get most of the attention for their expressiveness, a dog’spaws are wonderfully designed appendages and there is so much going on underneath the fur of a dog’s pawthat you may have never realized. Paws are made up of the following five components –

  • ClawsDigital Pads (the pads on the toes)
  • Metacarpal Pad (the pad in the middle)
  • Dewclaw
  • Carpal Pad (thepad furthest back)

SHAPE, SIZE AND ODOUR

Depending on climate and breed specifications, paws can come in several shapes and sizes. Breeds from coldclimes, like St. Bernard’s and Newfoundland’s, will typically have large paws with a greater surface area.This is to help with cold conditions and rough or slippery terrain. These breeds can also be born with webbedfeet, which helps make them excellent swimmers. Breeds with webbed feet include the Labrador Retriever,Field Spaniel and German Wirehaired Pointer. Other breeds have what are called “cat feet.” Cat feet printsare round and compact with a short third digital bone. This kind of paw is easier to lift and increases the dog’sendurance. The Bull Terrier, and Old English Sheepdog are both examples of dogs with cat feet paws. Somedog breeds are born with what are called “hare feet,” which are elongated with the two middle toes longerthan the outer toes, this helps in speed, endurance, and jumping height and distance. Dogs with hare feetinclude the Bedlington Terrier, Skye Terrier, Borzoi and Greyhound.If you’ve ever noticed your dog’s paws smelling like corn chips, it’s likely they have what is often called ‘FritoFeet’. This is caused by perspiration from the inner layer of skin on a dog’s paw, where sweat glands arefound. When walking, dogs pick up lots of microorganisms and when they sweat from their paws, thecombination of bacteria and moisture creates a smell that many people have compared to the smell ofFritos.

TAKING CARE OF PAWS

Taking proper care of paws is essential to your dog’s wellbeing so always be on the lookout for signs of injuryor infection. Nails can break, pads can get injured, the skin between your dog’s claws can be susceptible todamage or infection and, keeping nails trimmed is an important part of taking care of your dog. Some dogswill naturally wear down their nails from frequent walks on concrete sidewalks, but if your dog primarily getstheir exercise outside, their nails may need to be trimmed as much as once a month. A dog’s nails will growjust as fast as human nails and if not trimmed with enough frequency there is a greater risk of them breakingoff, in addition to a variety of other problems.

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