A dog’s paw hair is a common thing to overlook for dog owners, but keeping your pup’s feet nice and clean can protect them from unnecessary pain and irritation!
Specifically, short hair dogs are prone to have their paw pads forgotten about, since they do not have as many dog grooming sessions as their long hair counterparts. Dogs with long hair are more prone to matting that can cause them pain and skin irritation. No matter the breed, keeping a dog’s paw hair trimmed can keep the pup happy and healthy!
Why is this Important?
The hair between a dog’s paws is an essential part of his body. Unlike humans who wear shoes to protect their feet, dogs are barefoot most of their life! This means that a dog’s skin and paw pads need to be able to protect them from anything they may walk through.
The strongest part of their feet is the pads, the rough skin that touches the ground when they walk. In between the pads is more sensitive skin that is protected by fur. Having this space in between the pads allows for dogs to be more agile and have better traction for quick movements.
The fur between the pads grows just like the fur all over their body! It still needs to be trimmed and taken care of to prevent the dog from becoming uncomfortable. When the hair becomes too long or when Fido has matted dog hair, it can push the paw pads apart and cause pain in the dog’s feet. The fur can also get caught on things, such as wood decks, that can injure the pup. Longer hair is more prone to catching things as they walk outside, such as leaves and small rocks.
Keeping the hair trimmed level with the paw pad or even slightly shorter can prevent the dog from being in discomfort! Ensure you do not shave the hair all the way to the skin, as the fur is still acting as protection for the skin beneath! The good news is that you can do this task at home without going to a professional dog groomer.
Choosing the Right Tools
The first step to ensuring the dog’s paw pads remain clean and cared for is choosing the right tool to keep the hair trimmed. Most veterinarians do not recommend using household scissors, as they can be large and easy to cut into the paw pad.
A good set of clippers can last a lifetime! You can purchase them online or at your local pet store. Pick the pair of clippers that fit your hand, skill set, and budget.
We recommend the Wahl Professional Animal Cordless Clippers. With these clippers, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee and a year-long warranty. They are great for trimming in-between paw pads and other areas, such as the ears and face.
The actual action of trimming the paw pad hair can be daunting at first, but once you and your dog do it once it can become an easy task!
Ensure your dog is comfortable with you touching their paws and the sound of the clippers before you begin to trim the hair. Having them calm while you have clippers near their skin will help make sure you do not accidentally cut their skin while you work.
Once your dog is comfortable with you holding their paws and the sound of the tools, start by spreading their paw pads apart and trimming the excess hair moving out to their nails. Using this outwards motion will allow the trimmed hair to easily fall away from the pup’s paws and prevent jams in the clippers or blocking your view of the paw pad.
Make sure you trim the middle area between the toes and the large paw pad, this area is the most common part to be matted if left untrimmed. You can use a small comb to work out any knots and have the hair stand straight up while you trim it.
Tips for Keeping Them Calm
Not every dog is calm when their feet are touched; most dogs naturally don’t feel comfortable having their legs held and will react poorly to their nails being trimmed or paw pads cleaned. It is a natural reaction for dogs to prefer their feet to be free and ready to run at any time. Having their feet held prevents them from easily being able to react to danger, so working with your dog will allow you to more easily put them in that uncomfortable position.
Here are some of our top tips how to sedate your dog for grooming or to stimply keep your pup calm and controlled when dealing with their paws!
- Start young! When you first get a puppy, train them to be okay with you holding their feet for an extended period of time. Give them rewards and positive encouragement when they allow you to touch their feet.
- Train your dog how to “shake” and slowly work up the length of time that you hold their paw. Start with a few seconds and add more time as they become more comfortable.
- Touch their foot more often! Only touching their feet when you need to (I.E. trimming their nails and paw pads) will cause them to associate the action with being uncomfortable. Combat this by touching your dog’s feet when you are just laying down and snuggling them or just working with them.
- Give them a spa day! Whenever you give your dog a bath, go ahead and check their nails and paw pad hair when you are letting them dry.
- Get them used to the sound of the trimmer or nail grinder without touching their paws. Turning the clippers on and rewarding them when they are calm will encourage them to not fear the sound. This will make trimming their paw pads even easier.
- During any interaction where your dog is uncomfortable, ensure you remain calm and talk softly, if you get upset and loud it will only cause your dog more distress. If you are getting frustrated, take a break and relax before returning to the task.
Nail and Paw Pad Care
Keeping your dog’s paw pad hair trimmed is extremely important, just as important as it is to keep their nails trimmed and paw pads healthy.
You can use the same tips that helped your dog get used to their paw hair being trimmed to get them used to their nails being trimmed. Using today’s best dog nail grinders, you can easily keep your dog’s nails short and smooth to prevent harm to your floors and furniture, as well as keep your dog from walking on long nails that can cause pain and discomfort.
Much like other areas of skin, the paw pad can become damaged or even wounded. During times of play or exploration, your dog may catch their paw pad on something that causes the pad to be cut or rubbed raw. If you notice your dog is limping or licking its paw more than normal, check the area to see if there is an injury that is causing them to favor that paw .
There are tons of over-the-counter paw pad balms that can help keep your dog’s feet healthy or recover from an injury.
After a fun day at the park or a long walk, take a few minutes to check your dog’s paws thoroughly. Checking their pads, the skin between, and fur will allow you to see any issues with their feet before they cause pain to your dog.
All About the Pups
It is so important to stay vigilant to your dog’s paws! They are walking around on their feet all day and one small issue with their paw can grow into a huge injury if it is not found and treated quickly.
The utmost job of any dog owner is to keep their dog happy and healthy!
If you feel that your dog is in excessive pain or has been in pain for an extended amount of time, contact your local veterinarian with your concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do you groom a dog’s paw?
Keeping your dog’s paws clean is as easy as ensuring their nails are kept trimmed and the hair between their pads is kept short. Using a pair of clippers, you can spread their toes apart and trim the hair on their paws. The hair should be level or slightly below the paw pad. This prevents the hair from becoming matted but also leaves enough hair to protect the sensitive skin on the paw.
2) How often should I trim the hair between my dog’s paw pads?
Checking your dog’s paws once a week can ensure you catch any issues that come up before they cause your dog any discomfort or pain. You should trim the paw pad hair when it has grown over the top of the paw pads. Some dog hair grows extremely fast and may need to be trimmed every few weeks while other dogs only need to be trimmed every few months. It all depends on the breed of the dog and its fur’s rate of growth.
3) How can I make my dog more comfortable with me touching their paws?
Start them young if you can! Making a puppy comfortable with you touching their paws can make future care easy, as they will not become sensitive to their paws being held or the loud noises of the trimmer. Older dogs that were not trained as a puppy may take more time to adjust to the new expectation of having their paws held down to be trimmed. Starting slow and rewarding them when they are calm will teach them that it is okay for their legs to be held. Teach them that the sound of the clippers is followed by treats! This will continue to show them that the act of having their paws held and trimmed is not a scary action and will always be followed by love and treats.
4) Do I have to take them to the groomers to get their paw pads trimmed?
No! You can trim their paw pads at home! It takes a little bit of work for both the dog and owner to become comfortable with it, but after a few times, it becomes a habit! For dogs with longer hair, such as Golden Retrievers, will still require trips to a professional groomer to keep their coat styled and healthy.
5) Can I just use scissors to trim their paw pad hair?
If you trust yourself and your dog, yes, but we still recommend using pet hair clippers to make sure their pads and skin are not cut during the trimming process. Using scissors makes it more likely to accidentally cut their skin or paw while trimming the hair, while fur clippers have built-in safety guards that prevent the skin from being hurt.