Dogs are known for their wagging tails, soft fur, and adorable faces. They spend most of their waking hours pawing, digging, chewing, and generally collecting dirt from every gap that can find. Paw hair is there to protect your dog's paw pads, but can also keep them from running as fast and jumping as high as possible. The dog's paws are one of the most sensitive areas of their bodies, so they need to be attended to be regularly. For more general information on paw care, be sure to check out our guide on how to take care of a dog's paws. In this article, we will be focusing specifically on the importance of trimming your dog's paw hair and how to go about doing it.
What Are the Functions of Dog Paws?
Dog paws are made of several types of components and explaining their anatomy deserves a separate article on its own. However, when discussing paw grooming, it's important to understand what are their main functions and what purposes to they serve:
- Dogs use their paws to navigate the world while going about their daily lives. Paw pads provide grip and traction which allows them to run and climb various terrains.
- Due to their cushioning nature, paw pads protect the dog's bones and joints from wearing down.
- Dogs use their paws to sense the temperature of the surrounding environment.
- Dogs sweat through their paw pads which helps them regulate their body temperature during the warm seasons.
Leaving dog's paws unkempt can lead to various injuries. When something sharp gets stuck in between their toes or paw hair, the foreign object then rubs against the skin which can cause irritation and bleeding. Paw hair that is too long can also feel uncomfortable to walk with, which may result in the dog chewing their paws and spreading bacteria.
What Are Benefits of Trimming Your Dog's Paw Hair?
- Trimming paw hair prevents pooches' from clumping and carrying around dirt and debris, which reduces overall maintenance for you: you won't have to worry about brushing out mats or cleaning dirty floor.
- It makes it easier for your pup to run around and dig through the ground. If your dog is a long-haired breed, they might have problems walking on areas such as hardwood floors and tile. Long hair adds another layer between the pads and the surface which reduces the grip and makes it extra risky when walking on slippery terrain.
- Unkept knots of hair are the perfect environment for any kind of germs and bacteria to thrive which could potentially develop into infection and fungus. They also prevent the skin from breathing properly and releasing its natural oils.
- Grooming paw hair makes your pup look cleaner and more aesthetically appealing.
Here Are a Few Tips on How to Trim Your Dog's Paw Hair:
Pick the right scissors
Always keep them sharp and sanitized. The size of your scissors should depend on the size on your dog. Electric trimmers are not recommended as they are better for linear trimming of larger parts of the dog's body. Paw hair requires more detailed trims around the nails and in between the toes.
Find the right area
Make sure there is nothing around to divert your pooch's attention as distractions could make the process not only very time consuming, but also dangerous. Trimming your dog’s paws should be done in a calm and quiet location.
Get your pup to stand still
If not used to it, dogs can get frightened during the process of paw hair trimming. Paws are one of the most sensitive parts of any animals body, so it may take some time before they are accustomed to your touch. Try talking to your dog and to help them feel more comfortable and relaxed. Also, reward their patience with treats!
Be very careful not to poke your dog
Always stay focused while holding the scissors and look out for any sudden movement from your dog. If your dog is long-hair breed- spread the hair to see where it begins and assess where you should trim.
Establish a nail grooming routine
Overgrown nails can easily get in the way of trimming paw hair. Trimming dog nails consistently will allow you to maneuver the scissors around the paw with ease. Dog nail grooming provides a variety of health benefits to your pup, see our article on dog nail trimming where we go in-depth on the topic.
Brush out any knots and clumps of hair before trimming
If you notice any mats and tangles, give them a few brushes and see if you can undo them. If you can't get the hair to separate, gently pull the knot and carefully cut it out with scissors.
What If My Dog is Afraid of the Scissors?
The best way to know if your dog is afraid of any tools is to keep a close eye on his behavior while grooming. If it becomes increasingly agitated every time you reach for the scissors, then there's a good chance he doesn't feel comfortable around them. How the dog acts before, during, and after the process is a good indicator of how he feels about the whole thing. As long as you know your dog's normal behavior, you can usually tell what's bothering him. If you suspect the scissors to be a problem, try to have them around your dog as much as possible: put them near its crate, in the doorway, on the couch and near his toys, let it smell them. With time and patience, your pooch will become accustomed to scissors and not worry about their presence.
What Should I Do If I Cut or Hurt My Dog's Paw?
If your dog's paw gets cut- do not panic. Instead, apply first aid by sanitizing the wound and gently wrapping a bandage around it. If an object penetrates the skin, styptic powder can be utilized to stop the bleeding. The injury is still at risk of getting infected if the dog becomes exposed to dirt and germs, so it's recommended to keep him indoors. Look out for any symptoms of further injury like limping, excess licking and whining. If the bleeding does not stop, or you are worried that the wound might've gotten infected, be sure to bring the dog to a veterinarian.