Protecting your dogs paws while hiking is no light matter.
While dogs paws are much tougher than our feet, they are way more delicate than shoes and need protection when out in rough terrain.
Here we’ll give you the best ways you can help protect your dogs paws.
Protecting your dogs paws while hiking is a big deal!
After all, walking around on painful and damaged paws is no fun.
Any experienced hiker can tell you the importance of caring for their own feet.
But how do you protect your dogs paws while hiking?
The most important aspects to caring for their paws is prevention.
Here we’ll discuss the best ways to prevent paw injuries and what to look out for when it comes to your best friends feet.
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What can Happen to a Dogs Paws?
Dogs paws are way tougher than our feet.
But that doesn’t mean to aren’t prone to injuries.
When out on hiking trails or rough terrain dogs are susceptible to things like blisters, scrapes, cuts, bruises, splinters and a range of other injuries.
But don’t let that keep you from taking your dog hiking.
There are plenty of things you can do to help protect your dogs paws.
How to Protect a Dogs Paws while Hiking
The best way to protect your dogs paws while hiking is to use dog booties or paw wax. It’s also wise to keep their paws in good shape, consistently check for injuries and walk them regularly to protect their paws.
There are several factors to consider when picking out the best way to protect your dogs paws.
- What terrain will you be on?
- Will temperature of the ground be hot or cold?
- How far will you be going
- The condition of your dogs paws now
It also helps to be familiar with the parts of a dogs paw, I’ll go more in detail a bit later.
The paws are divided up into 5 parts, here is an example of where each part typically is on a dog.
The top part of the paw includes the main claws, the digital pads (one below each paw) and the metacarpal pad (the big centered one.)
But many people forget about the dew claw and carpal pad.
These two parts are just as important, and need to be protected and inspected before and after each hike.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that water breeds also have webbed paws, and the webbing should be inspected too.
Here are a few simple, but important ways to care for your dogs paws to prevent injuries and discomfort.
1. Keep Nails Trimmed
This one tends to get over looked. Keeping your dogs nails trimmed will help prevent injuries.
Nails can crack and get stuck on things, so its best to keep them trimmed up.
It’s important that you trim their main claws and their dewclaw.
Here is a video with some great tips on trimming a dogs nails yourself at home.
2. Toughen Up Their Paws
Another way to protect their paws is to toughen them up.
Just like people feet, the more you use them the tougher they get.
I personally love walking around barefoot, and even do yard work without shoes.
This alone has given me tougher feet.
Dogs paws work similarly.
Preparing a dog for hiking is important, and taking frequent daily walks to build their endurance and stamina not only helps they last longer on the trails, but will also help toughen up their paws.
3. Use Dog Shoes
Another great way to protect your dogs paws is to put a barrier between them and the ground.
Your dog should wear shoes any time your taking them on longer hikes, going through rough terrain or hiking on really hot or really cold days.
These dog shoes are one of the best rated dog shoes out there.
They offer a nice thick barrier between your dogs paws and the ground.
They can protect your dogs paws from heat, cold and sharp jagged rocks.
However, they aren’t without their faults.
Dog shoes can also be a pain until you (and your dog) get used to using them.
Some people have trouble keeping them on their dog, although the human may just not be putting them on tight enough.
But they can also cause injuries if they aren’t the right size or your forget to trim you dogs nails.
Which makes a nightly paw inspection especially important.
Even if you don’t think your dog will wear the shoes, I recommend keeping a pair in your pack while hiking. If it gets too hot for your dog, you’ll be glad you have them.
You never know when you’ll come across a patch of sharp rocks or if the ground will become to hot mid way through your hike.
(And dogs do burn their paws quickly on hot ground!)
4. Paw Balm
The other barrier option is paw balm.
Paw balm can offer some barrier protection, but it’s definitely not the same as dog shoes.
It’ll absorb into your dogs paws and moisturize them, but it won’t last long during a hike.
I definitely recommend a high quality balm even if you use the dog shoes, as it’ll help keep your dogs paw pads soft and supple.
This will help prevent your dogs paw pads from cracking and help any injuries heal faster.
5. Avoid Harsh Conditions
Of course, the easiest way to protect your dogs paws is by prevention.
If the weather outside is too hot or too cold, avoid taking your dog for hikes.
If you notice that some trails are especially rocky or the ground is uneven and dangerous, avoid those trails and opt for smoother travels.
6. Nightly Inspection
Make sure to inspect your dogs paws after each and every hike.
Make sure to check their claws including the dewclaw, their digital pads, metacarpal pad and carpal pad.
Then check the bottom and tops of each paw.
If you have a water breed of dog you’ll also want to make sure to check out the webbing in between each of their “toes.”
It’ll help you catch injuries early and you’ll be able to tend to your dogs paws as needed.
What to look for when inspecting your dogs paws:
- Embedded rocks or debris
If your dog suddenly cries out or starts to limp during your hike, make sure to stop and check out what happened then and there.
7. Create a Care Routine
If you hike regularly with your dog, get in the habit of nightly inspections and moisturize your dogs paws with a dog balm like mentioned above.
According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation you could also use a vitamin E oil and rub it into your dogs pads.
Just make sure to rub it in well so your dog doesn’t try to lick it off.
Personally, I’d go with a dog safe balm like this one that contains vitamin E.
If you do notice a small injury like a cut or blister, gently wash their paw with soap and water and apply the protective balm.
Don’t use Vaseline or creams that aren’t created for dogs. They could lick the creams off and ingesting them could do more harm than good.
At the very least, it could cause a terrible case of diarrhea.
For any larger injuries, always see your vet for advice and treatment options.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you protect your dog’s paw while out hitting the trails.
The important part is to use common sense and watch your dog’s body language.
If your dog starts acting strange, figure out why. It could very likely be his paws that are hurting.