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Paws: A Cause To Consider
by Elyse Horvath
Editor´s Note from Cathy Alinovi: What function do paw pads serve? They’re not just for walking/running – and, even the pad way up high on their wrist serves a purpose. Dogs’ pads need care and protection just as the rest of their body does.
Dogs, like people, are intricate beings. Organs, bones, muscles, and fluids, and all of this housed and protected by the largest organ of the body: the skin. Whether thick or thin, tough or delicate, skin is alive with its own ecosystem, needing a balance of strength and elasticity, of moisture and amino acids, a certain spongy give that can produce goose bumps when caressed, or give cushion to a fall.
Also like us, dogs do need attention to their skin to keep it maintained and allow it to do its jobs "Wu Wei", or without thought or effort. Whether you live in a dry desert climate, or are trudging through snowy winters, your dog's paw pads can show signs of stress and wear at an early age. After all, domestic dogs live in the environment we have created for them, including chemically treated carpeting, tile floors, cement yards and walking paths… a far cry from the dirt path their pads were designed for! Besides the less obvious signs of dryness and cracking which often go overlooked, dogs have their unique ways of showing their caregivers that there's an issue. The question presents itself - are you in tune with your pack's paw health?
Let's back up a bit though. Paw pads were made for walking, running, jumping, even hunting. They also have some cool features not everyone's aware of, one being that they are basically tiny shock absorbers for the entire body, which protects the joints and sockets of the body. You could say they're designed for action!
Another cool feature is that the paw's pores are literally expressways for toxins to release from the dog's body. So when choosing aides to heal or protect them, we must keep this in mind so as not to inhibit this important function! What does that mean specifically? Aside from not putting anything toxic onto this important organ, we also shouldn't apply any products that might be clogging to these pores. Products containing petroleums, waxes, parabens, butters, or which haven't been specifically analyzed for canine use can be particularly worrisome. If you do use a wax-based product for protection when trekking out, it's wise to make sure to remove any remaining residue after the activity is complete.
Understanding the basic functions of the paw pads and what they do for your dog is important, and now that your interest is piqued, you may be wondering what a dog's caregiver needs to know about maintaining paw and skin health. Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind on a regular basis:
Keep them clean: If your pup is a trailblazer, it can be easy to miss caked on dirt. So what? Well, if there's a cactus needle, other pointy plant bits, or a piece of broken glass under that dirt, cleaning the paws up regularly will bring these things to your attention quickly so that you can treat the issue. If there's broken skin, you'll find it easily on clean paws. And if there's an infection or cut, you'll want to treat it right away to keep the infection from entering the internal systems of the dog. Choose a product that is safe, easy to apply, and offers natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Avoid anything containing alcohol, as this will sting and is not safe if licked.
Moisturize and Massage: Who doesn't love a good foot rub? Essential oils are blissful when rubbed into the skin, and dogs are not immune to this joy! Always allow the dog to give a quick sniff to any new products you're using. That way, the dog feels a part of the decision, and knows what's coming. When choosing your essential oil blend, consider the aromatherapy associated, as well as the benefits each type will provide. It should be an aroma you enjoy, since your pup will be more fun to cuddle with if you like the scent. When choosing a blend, always use a product made for dogs. Many natural products, which are safe for humans, can be dangerous for dogs.
The paws are the connecting point between a dog and his world. Proper care can keep your dog healthier, happier, and can extend and enhance his active years.
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About the Author
Elyse Horvath is the chief paw protector at Natural Paws, the company behind the Sweet Pea’s Paws line of natural and organic remedies for dogs' paw pad and skin ailments. Elyse uses essential oil and herbal infusions to provide holistic benefits, neutralizing allergy symptoms, infections, and inflammation, building skin strength while providing gentle aromatherapy. She can be found with her Cocker Spaniel, Sweet Pea, at pet events and festivals around the Southwest and can be contacted at email@example.com.
More information can be found at www.naturalpaws.net or at www.facebook.com/naturalpaws.