Many dog owners assume that, because dogs don't wear protective footwear, their feet are invulnerable to extreme temperatures and other safety concerns. However, dogs can suffer from the same types of injuries as humans but are not as cognizant of the potential hazards to their foot health.
This places the responsibility on the owners to be mindful of possible threats before allowing their dogs to venture outdoors.
What Are the Risks to Dogs' Paws During the Winter Season?
Frostbite is the major concern in the cold of winter. Wet conditions such as snow or ice will greatly increase the possibility of frostbite. Sub-freezing temperatures will slow the flow of blood to the feet, causing them to become pale and hard to the touch.
The feet will turn black in extreme cases of frostbite. Tissue will begin to die and will require partial amputation of the affected areas.
If signs of mild frostbite are present, the feet should be soaked in warm water until the flesh begins to turn from pale gray to red. A trip to a veterinary clinic is then required to check for possible complications.
Blackened skin necessitates immediate care from a veterinarian to save as much tissue as possible from irreversible damage.
Road salt and ice melting chemicals can also cause distress to dogs' paws during the winter months. Dogs that are allowed outdoors should be provided with adequate shelter, equipped with dog booties, and closely monitored as temperatures drop below freezing.
What Are the Risks to Dogs' Paws During the Summer Season?
Burns are the primary risk for paws in the heat of summer. Although black surfaces such as asphalt roads and parking lots will generate the most heat, concrete sidewalks and sandy beaches can also cause severe burns on very bright days.
The basic rule to consider is that if a surface is too hot for your bare feet, it's also too hot for your dog. Dogs that are more sedentary during the cooler seasons are particularly susceptible to burns because their paw pads are softer from disuse. Dogs' paws can be gradually acclimated by gradually increasing their exposure to outdoor activities such as by taking controlled walks with their owners.
If burns do occur, walking will become painful, with dogs licking their feet. Blisters will appear later, and will need to be treated with bandaging and antibiotics to avoid infection.
Dogs' paws are vulnerable to cuts, bruising ,and abrasions all year long from a multitude of natural and manufactured materials that can be found anywhere that a dog may roam. Vigilance is needed to look for signs such as limping or paw licking that may indicate a problem that will require a trip to the vet to get your canine companion up and running once again.