A dog's paws do more than get her from place to place -- they also help regulate the dog's temperature. Extreme elements can wreck havoc on dog paws, such as sharp bits of ice, chemicals used to melt the frozen water, or scalding-hot pavement, so it is essential to take steps to protect your dog's paws. While winter cold and summer heat often mean extra care of dog paws, it is necessary to protect the animal's feet year-round. For example, dogs that frequently run around parks or in your backyard can pick up small pebbles between paw pads or cut their pads on sharp twigs or rocks.
Feel the pavement before you take your dog for a walk. If the pavement is extremely hot to the touch, it will be extremely hot on your dog's paw pads. Walk your dog in a grassy area on hot days. If taking your dog with you while driving, keep an old towel for your dog to stand on if she will be standing on hot pavement for a few minutes only.
Trim the hair around your dog's paws to prevent ice, snow, salt, de-icing chemicals, pebbles, sand, small twigs and other debris from attaching to longer hairs. Brush the hair with a comb before trimming, and don't forget to get the hair between the toes, as well hair as between the toes and the main paw pad. Ice and other debris can easily become stuck in these areas.
Train your dog to wear dog booties when she goes out in severe weather. Place a bootie on one of your dog's feet, give her a treat, and remove the bootie. This positive method will reinforce the idea that booties equal treats, and helps get the dog used to the idea of wearing booties. Booties are one of the best ways to protect your dog's feet from the elements, both hot and cold.
Inspect your dog's paws daily after following any outdoor adventure if your dog will not wear the booties, as small pebbles and other items can become lodged between your dog's paw pads.
Wash your dog's paws daily following time spent outdoors if you dog refuses to wear booties. This will remove salt, de-icing chemicals, and other debris your dog might ingest when she licks her paws.
Take your dog to your veterinarian or a professional groomer to have her nails trimmed regularly. Overgrown nails can interfere with your dog's gait and can split, causing pain and bleeding. Severe cases can curl under and grow into the pad of the paw.
Massage the pads to promote better circulation and use a moisturizer on dry, cracked paw pads. A dog that walks on concrete all the time may be extra susceptible to cracked pads due to friction or sharp edges. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on the best dog moisturizers.