==> Your dog limping? Licking paws a lot? Walking with care?
Dog Paw Care prevents Dog Paw Problems - and so much more!
GSD Paw Care
You put in your best effort to provide your German Shepherd (and yourself!) with a healthy lifestyle. You take your GSD for runs, countryside hiking, and intense walks. You take your GSD to dog playgrounds, play fetch and frisbee in parks, and you undertake any other exercise and FUN activities you can fit into your busy daily schedule.
In addition (or instead?), your dog walks or runs on anything and everything from carpets to ... gravel, hot asphalt and ... snow and ice (depending on where you live of course).
And when you come back home, do you check your dog's paws?
You should. Checking your dog's paws regularly is as important as any other health concerns. Because:
If there is a problem with skin or paws, the dog will lick, nibble and bite the affected area, and will ingest any organic and inorganic substances, from infections to chemicals to parasites, and (s)he will inflict a wound and spread the infection. This may neither be great for your dog's overall health nor benefit the paw problem.
German Shepherd paws are pretty robust, true. Yet, they need some basic care and specific attention from your side in order to stay that way. With just a little effort and the right GSD paw care you can relieve your GSD of paw-related complications and prevent health issues in the future.
The varied and demanding outdoor exercise that you (hopefully) provide to your GSD, as well as environmental factors that we ourselves often don't even notice, require that you take care of your dog's paws regularly. - If you don't, you may end up with many more dog problems than just paw problems...
See here why, and what you can do about it.
Dog Paw Problems
Walking on rough terrain, hot surfaces and sheets of ice are a direct threat to your GSD's paws. Did you know that black asphalt can heat up to melting temperature on midday in a hot summer?!
Asphalt as well as pavements of a certain type of stone get insanely hot when the sun is burning. I have experienced this myself. I remember, one year the tar on the roads was getting wobbly and the shoe soles were sticking on it, so hot it was.
Not only temperature but broken glass, gravel, metal scraps, salt, household chemicals etc, or broken or ingrown toenails - all can cause thickenings, burns, tears, cuts, cracks, and even bleeding paws. In addition, some substances may result in allergies, infections, and ultimately tumors too.
Paw Injury Symptoms
- Overly careful or slow walking
- Bruised or split pads
- Broken toenails
- Dark yellow or brown colorings around toenails
- Intense or prolonged licking paws or pawing the mouth
To avoid such outcomes, make sure to keep a brief but regular check on your German Shepherd's paws, and take action if you see any changes.
Causes of Paw Problems
There are three core causes of dog paw problems:
- Carpet walking of the modern, domesticated dogs
- Scrap metal and broken glass debris on pavements, roads, and even in parks
- Road salt in the winter, spillages of pesticides and chemicals, and remnants of cleaning agents
The typical modern, domesticated dogs, including German Shepherds, walk too much on carpets and other very soft ground. This makes paw pads soft and makes toe nails grow too long and the quick extend too far into the nail.
The quick is the bundle of nerves and blood vessels inside the nail (see the pink area in the nail in this image, but note that I drew a line to show that the quick extends further than most dog owners think).
If a dog's toe nails are not naturally trimmed through sufficient exercise on varied surfaces, and not trimmed by yourself in all other cases, then the nails will grow too long and - worse - the quick will extend towards the front of the nail and will get immediately injured when the nail splits or breaks off, or when you trim it!
The problem with the nails of our German Shepherds is of course that we cannot normally see the quick at all, since the nails of GSDs are normally not clear, but rather dark and pretty much opaque. That's why we have to be careful not to trim the nails too short.
I hope you won't make this mistake once you've studied this MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL, so further below we also show how to cut dog nails correctly if you need to.
To the new GSD owners among our subscribers: If you provide your GSD puppy and later your adult GSD with sufficient and varied outdoor exercise (like we recommend it all GSD owners), then you will normally not need to trim your dog's nails.
Only when your GSD gets older and its daily 'exercise' is limited to slow and easy walks on level terrain, then the nails will no longer be naturally trimmed and you will need to do the trimming.
However, the problem with this approach is that then your dog isn't used to nail trimming and, particularly when older, may not like the associated stress at all! That's why I would recommend that you 'simulate' some nail trimming regularly (about twice monthly), even when not actually needed.
This way, your dog gets used to this procedure from puppy age onwards, and (s)he won't find it distressing when you do it when it's needed later.
Like probably all scientists, I am a pretty observant person, and the amount and variety of debris that I find on the average road and in the grass of the average park worries me. How often was it that I saw some surprising item where it shouldn't be? From bottle caps on the road ... to fish tins in the park. And I thought: "Great that I had shoes on just now!"
But: While we most of the time protect our feet, and get the most comfy sandals in the summer, and thick boots in the winter, our dogs still are on their bare paws.
Please be more considerate than this dog owner, don't make your GSD walk (or even run!) on this type of terrain.
Note that dogs too don't naturally watch their every step. Only through the experience of paw injuries comes the trained behavior to watch out where they place their paws. So, normally, German Shepherds too will run around without considering the potential debris or sharp edges of rocks. And when they step into something really nasty, it's too late!
Road Salt and Spillages
Road salt in the winter, and spillages during the rest of the year can be a real problem, depending on where you live.
Note that many types of road salt can literally burn through your dog's paw pads, leaving them cracked or split, and painful. And when your dog then licks off the salt-chemical mix, (s)he ingests all that stuff! In addition, with painful paws, your GSD cannot get proper exercise for a couple of weeks.
Finally, residues of cleaning agents in the house are a real problem if you are not careful:
Neither we as consumer nor the manufacturers are aware of the associated risks: People don't walk permanently barefeet, they don't normally lick the floor, and they don't normally roll around on the floor. BUT: Dogs do all of this! That's why even house cleaning agents that seem to be 'green' (the label doesn't state any problematic substances) can bear significant risks for the health of pets in the house (dogs and cats). I can do no more here than make you aware of that. Be considerate. Always consider "How would I feel and be affected if my feet and body skin were exposed to this environment, to this cleaning agent?".
Dog Paw Care
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