For many of us, season is here. You and your pup have worked hard for this, and it’s time to enjoy it. Nothing can end that fun quicker for you and your dog than a foot injury. The following tips will help keep your hunting partner fit and ready for the season:
Keep Nails Trimmed- This is the number one thing you can do to prevent foot injury in your dog. Overgrown nails are not only uncomfortable, but pose a safety threat. Getting a nail caught in roots, thick brush, etc. can easily end a day if your pup were to rip the nail off. Additionally, they can slow your dog down in the field and effect they’re balance. Make an effort to trim every two weeks. Cut as close to the quick as you can get without actually cutting into the vein. Also, before you head out for the field, do a quick check to make sure they nails are as short as they can get. If, for some reason, you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, your local vet, groomer or pet store will be able to help you out.
Condition Pads- Your dog’s pads are more sensitive than you might imagine from the look of them, and it’s very important to keep them healthy if you expect to have a long and prosperous hunting season. To keep them in good condition, it’s important to moisturize these regularly. Dry, cracked pads increase the risk of infection and pain for your pup. Moisturize at least weekly (daily is optimal) with a non-toxic moisturizing cream. We’re not talking the frou-frou lotion here. There’s no need for your dog’s feet to smell like roses, and human products may contain chemicals that have no business near your pup’s paws. Stick to products made especially for dogs, bag balm, or shea butter.
Wash Quickly- This is especially important if you live in an area that is salted in winter months. As you probably no, salt is immensely destructive to a dog’s pads. Get in and get them washed down with warm water as quickly as you can after you get in from a day on the hunt. Even if you live in a warmer climate, this is a good practice. Most likely, you don’t see everything your dog runs through, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Inspect Regularly- Do a quick inspection of your dog’s feet daily. Check that the nails are trimmed and the pads are smooth and moist. This is especially important before heading out in the field. If your pup’s pads are cracked, he needs to sit out the day. Running him in this condition increases the chance of greater damage and infection, which will keep you out of the field much longer.
Try Dog Boots- If you’re going to be hunting in rough terrain, also look into purchasing dog boots for your pup. These will help prevent tears and infection to your dog’s feet. Most dogs adjust to the boots no problem. Some have a little harder time with it, so it’s a personal choice for you and your pup. Remember when using these, though, they are added protection. They are not a shortcut to perfect foot health. All of the above steps are just as important if utilizing boots.
Taking these preventative steps will greatly help you and your buddy stay in the field all season long. We’re sure others have some great advice on this as well. What preventative measures would you add to this list? Let us know.