How to Check your Dogs Paw Pads for Debris

As it’s getting colder, wetter and probably muddier. If you don’t already do this, it’s a good time to start. Checking your dogs paw pads for debris can prevent any discomfort, injuries and potential vet visits. If you’re unsure of how to do this, follow these steps.

It’s extremely important to keep your dog comfortable and do this without force.  Sit by your dog however they are most comfortable, be that laying or sitting.

If Laying, Sit facing your dogs feet & belly so you can freely see beneath their paws.
If Sitting, Sit behind your dog. Lift the front feet one at a time and bend back the paws to face you. You should be able to see directly under the paws. For the back feet, try to lift and look at them with minimal movement. If your dog is leaning on one hip (most will be) then both feet will be visible from one side.

Then,

  1. Squeeze the larger paw pad section (metacarpal pad) gently. This pressure allows the rest of the toes to separate so you can see between the paw pads.
  2. Gently separate any hair in the way,  just to loosen it enough to ensure nothing is tangled or stuck.
  3. On short haired breeds, it will be very easy to see if anything is stuck, on long haired breeds it can be trickier. If you’re struggling to see the paw pad clearly, it may be worth asking your groomer to shave the paws out to help keep them clean and make it easier for you to see.

Tips

  • Dogs with long hair between their toes are at a higher chance of having things get stuck! Make sure to check thoroughly as it is easy to miss small objects that may have gotten lodged while walking. Clipping the paw pads can help with this.
  • Try to move your dogs legs and feet in a way that is comfortable & non straining for their limbs. Remember, their legs can only lift so high and their joints can only bend so much.
  • If your dog pulls away from you you’re either, A) Squeezing too hard or your dog is uncomfortable with the pressure. or B) There is a certain amount of pain from that paw. Applying pressure not only separates the paw pad enabling a better view for you but could also apply pressure to a painfully lodged object.
  • If unsure, ask your groomer or vet how to check or if they can check for you. They do this every day.

I’ve often found mud and small sticks stuck under my dog’s paws after a walk in the park. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found between your dogs paws?