Make sure your dog’s nail care is not neglected. If he walks on cement or asphalt frequently, he may wear his nails down naturally, but it’s a good idea to check to be sure. If he has any dewclaws – small vestigial nails higher up on his leg, which don’t touch the ground – they will need regular trimming. Dewclaws are more common on front legs, but can be found on the rear legs of some dogs.
Hot, dry weather can predispose dogs to cracked or brittle nails, which can be painful. A quick “cure” may be as simple as applying liquid bandage, but some dogs will still limp for a few days. Diet can contribute to cracked and brittle nails and a zinc supplement may help. Talk to your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet.
Pad injuries are very common in warm weather. A cut pad may require veterinary attention. The cut flap will cause pain every time your dog steps. A deep cut may require sutures and a splint to help hold the paw together while it heals. Without a splint, the pad often rips open again as your dog walks around.
It’s also possible for paw pads to get burned. Always check the temperature of sidewalks and roads if you are planning a walk with your dog. This warning extends to sand in beach areas as well. If a surface is too hot for you to go barefoot, it is too hot for your dog! Try to plan walks in the early mornings or evenings after things cool down a bit.
If you live in areas with nasty plant life like foxtails, check in between your dog’s pads after each walk. Feel from above – going between each toe – and underneath – going between each individual pad. This quick check can help you find potential problems.