Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dog foot care

Some foot care tips & hints I've collected that are useful:




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Keep the hair in longer coated breeds trimmed around the pads. (unlike the medium length you see in the photo above :) This will allow the pads to develop calluses and discourage softening from moisture being held in the hair.

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Zinc does make a difference in pad strength. It has to be absorbed into the system and given time to work, but it DOES work. It's economical as well.
Nutrazinc from Howling Dog Alaska
It strengthens the nails so you may have to trim more often.

* I haven't tried it yet to make my own opinion, but I've ordered some and I'll let you know.

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The combination of genetics, gait and size play a role in foot problems. Terrain and distance play a role as well. Start over dirt on short runs and build them up to gravel. It's best to get in the habit of doing a foot inspection after each run. Running on dirt & grass is always better than pavement. Try and keep this to a minimum. Not only is it like sandpaper to the paws, it's harder on the dogs body.

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Pads can be toughened up over time, but you have to monitor carefully and boot the dog before the pads are damaged. You'll notice the pads getting thinner, and when they are really worn you'll notice "pinpricks" of moisture. Boot AS SOON as you see this, or you'll have a limping dog if you don't.



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Fleece boots hold heat but supply padding, cordura boots wear better, etc. Find a boot that suits your climate, dog and terrain. Start with the boots very tight and loosen the velcro if you rest or finish your run. Dogs loose heat through their paws so when you rest take the boots off the dog and reapply once you are ready to run again.

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When a dog tears it's pad, rinse it off and get home. It's a good idea to carry a spare boot in your kit for emergency situations like this.

Once home, if the pad injury is shallow or 'slipped', leave it open to the air in a dry area. Once it dries the dog will generally leave it alone and let it heal. If it's a deeper cut, close it with medical glue and put a boot on it loosely when you are around to supervise. In the photograph above, the injury is more of a 'slipped' paw, a layer of skin that has come off. This is uncomfortable for the dog and it will usually limp for a while, but it isn't something to be concerned about. Don't run the dog until the pad has healed completely.

If your dog has a medical condition or if you think the injury is serious it's always best to visit your vet.

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Here is the homemade remedy from the Collins book:

3 pounds Vaseline, 50 to 70 cc Betadine, 1 pound lanolin, and 1⁄2 pound glycerin (to prevent freezing). To this basic formula, 40cc of 90 percent medical grade DMSO (or 40 cc of 4 mg/ml dexamethasone, available by prescription) can be added if desired. Vitamins A and E may also be beneficial. Melt slowly, stirring constantly, and pour into containers.

The one thing the book mentions is that the vets are divided on using medications containing DMSO, steroids, or other anti-inflammatory drugs because they can slow healing, mask symptoms and possibly leave a dog more susceptible to infection by suppressing the immune system.

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In conclusion, condition the paws, proactively apply boots, glue when needed and supplement zink.

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