Imagine going for a walk every day in bare feet, not washing those feet and then licking and chewing them. Well your dogs do. The toxins that can develop on your dogs' paws are now also having fun inside your dog. Although our dogs are designed to handle some bad stuff, there are many toxins that should be avoided. These include lawn fertilizers, garden herbicides and pesticides, anti freeze, household cleaners, formaldehyde, pool/spa chemicals, even flea and tick medication.
Or if your dog is anything like mine, cut grass can cause a massive flair up in his paws.
While there are many reasons your dog may be licking or chewing at his paws and a vet should be consulted in extreme cases, by keeping your dogs paws clean and healthy you may be able to eliminate a lot of licking by following a few simple steps. Even if your dog doesn't have allergies, every dog deserves healthy paws!
So what can we do?
The Foot Soak
As recommended by Dr Karen Becker DVM
If your dog is a big guy you can use a bucket and soak one foot at a time, with a little dog, you can use your kitchen, laundry or bathroom sink.
So it doesn't matter where you do it or whether you rinse all four paws at once or one paw at a time. What's important is to soak those paws at the end of any day when your pet has been in contact with allergens, lawn chemicals, or anything in the environment with the potential to irritate her feet.
Keep in mind the only places dogs sweat from are their noses and the pads of their feet. So those damp little pads can collect a really heavy load of irritants.
A soak at the end of the day will reduce the chemical burden on your dog, as well as the potential for irritation.
You need enough water to cover the pads of your dog's feet.
Povidone iodine (Betadine) is an organic iodine solution. It's safe, non-toxic, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-yeast.
You want to dilute the povidone iodine with water to the color of iced tea, using just your eyes – no scientific formula is involved! If it comes up too light, just add a bit more of the iodine. If it's a bit dark, add more water. Just swish around while your dog stands in it. I recommend you let your dog stand in the solution for two to five minutes.
You don't have to do anything to the feet or toes -- the solution will do the work for you. So you can just stand and sing to your dog while he soaks, or talk to him and tell him know how handsome and well behaved he is. Massaging your dog is also a nice relaxing time.
If your dog is nervous about being in water, you can offer treats. So having some snacks handy is a good idea.
If your dog is truly fearful of water, rather than plunk her in the tub or sink, you can do a little mini-soak. Put a little povidone iodine in a small tub, add water and create a little mini foot soak. You can just plop each little foot in the mini-soak one at a time, making sure each entire pad surface is covered with the mixture and it shouldn't be nearly as scary for your dog as being put in the bathtub.
Remember, the key is to get the feet submerged in the solution, which will wash away any type of yeast that might be growing, as well as mild bacterial infections, allergens, and other contaminants.
Pat Dry and Go! After you've soaked each foot for two to five minutes, there's no need to rinse the solution off your dog's feet. This is another great feature of povidone iodine.
Just lift your dog out of the bath or remove that last foot and pat the paws dry. Done!
If you're short on space or time, you can re-use a container of foot soak for two or three days. Some people leave a pail of the mixture on their deck and make a fresh batch every few days.
Others keep a garden hose handy and fill up a bucket, a small plastic tub or even a coffee can and mix in the iodine solution, dumping after each use.
I wouldn't go more than two or three days using the same foot soak solution.
And keep in mind you don't have to use a lot of water or povidone iodine – just enough to fully cover your dog's foot pads with a solution the color of iced tea. This saves both water and iodine, and if your dog has a water phobia, it will also reduce her anxiety to use only the amount of water necessary to get the job done.
And don't worry if you have a white fluffy like me, the Betadine will not cause a lasting yellow stain on your dogs paws.
You can then follow up with Mushers Secret Wax to help sooth and protect.
You'll want to protect your dogs paws from abrasive surfaces such as sand, salt and ice, pavement or anything that can damage their sensitive pads.
This is perfect for dog walking, bike rides with your dog, running on roads – basically any activity where your dogs paws come in contact with abrasive surfaces.
100% wax-based cream derived from a blend of several food-grade waxes. Safe and non-toxic to your dog and contains vitamin E to help moisturize, heal wounds and keep paws healthy. Creates a semi-permeable shield that lets perspiration escape while absorbing into the paws to protect them.
Simply apply a light coating to your dogs foot pads and rub in. Absorbs in minutes – when it’s absorbed into your hand, it’s absorbed into your dogs pads. In severe weather rub between pads. Apply as needed to keep your dog healthy and happy.
With these two simple steps your dogs constant licking and chewing should improve, but always seek veterinarian advice should symptoms persist.