Dog Paw: 21 Facts, Problems & Treatments

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One of the few things that we really love to do at Virtuous Dogs is challenge ourselves. We dare ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and learn something new about our dear furry friends. Also, we challenge you: in a good way. We challenge you to prove if you are actually as aware of your canine companions as you appear to be. This is just to extend the knowledge and understanding of dogs, in order to make their life among human beings, smoother and better.

This article is another of our dog facts articles. In this article you will get to learn a lot about dog feet, weird facts about them, whatever ails them and how to treat them. Let’s have a quick brain activity before ever we get indulged into it. Get a paper and pen; now write down whatever dog paw facts come to your mind. We shan’t mind if you even mention the facts given in our legendary 151 dog facts post. Done! Now read this article and notice how many of the following facts were unknown to you. Ready! Get! Set! Go!

  1. Lundehund’s Toes – Talking of our previous post, it is only appropriate if we first mention the dog paw facts mentioned in our phenomenal 151 facts post. So there is this Norwegian dog which is called Lundehund – and the most amazing thing about this dog is 6 toes in each of his dog feet. Amazing, isn’t it?[1]
  2. How dogs sweat? Well, unlike human beings, dogs do not have sweat glands in their skin, but they have them located right between their paws. Imagine sweating from your feet. The crazy smell that dogs have in dog feet is actually because of those sweat glands. Just like the human body smell is strongest in armpits where the sweat is released, dogs have smelly paws.[2]
  3. Boxer – is a dog that is called boxer because it has some fixation with frontal paws; it keeps them in the air just a like a boxer will waive his fists.[3]
  4. Apple cider vinegar – If you feel that your pup’s paws have gotten rough and irritated, just apply a mixture of two parts water and one part apple cider vinegar to its feet, and after applying the mixture for 5 or more minutes, dry its dog feet. Now don’t be amazed if your pup’s feet are as smooth as silk.[4]
  5. Canine paws – You might think that you dog is a special one, but it is actually connected to a whole canine community. Coyote, wolf, jackal and fox etc. all are canines and they have the same type of dog paw that your dog has. Irrespective of the radius, the type is same. Not only that, but if you have a look at the dog paw print, it is very identical to many predators even from cat family e.g. lion.
  6. Dog paw print – You might wonder as to what is reason for the famous dog paw print. Well, let us break this myth for you (if it is a myth at all). If you know anything about the anatomy of a dog’s paw, it has digital pads: the leather-looking pads right under the dog feet that leave the exact mark which we know as dog paw print.[5]



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  1. Defense against viruses – The digital pads that we have mentioned above, do not only make the famous dog paw print, but they have other uses as well. For example, they control the water loss from body and they also provide a very good defense against bacteria and/or viruses that dogs otherwise may pick up from the bare ground.[6]
  2. Metacarpal/metatarcal pads – If you are also among those who did not give much importance to different types of pads located under the dog paw, you will now do. A metacarpal/metatarsal pad is that heart-shaped pad which can be find right below the digital pads. Just like human palms and soles, dogs have these pads, and these pads provide a cushion against the stress on limbs that dogs bear while walking.[7]
  3. Paw Pads – As we know that they protect dog feet and the leave the “notorious” dog paw print, this is not all about them. Their texture is also unique and interesting. They are made of pigmented and plain, hairless skin, which encapsulate a dense collection of tissues and fats.[8]
  4. Smooth dog feet – If you see a dog with smooth and soft dog paw, it means that they do not walk a lot or they do not walk much on rough terrain.[9]
  5. Balance and stability – Another main reason why dogs have these padded dog feet, is balance and stability. They provide your canine friend with all the balance and stability he needs while walking.[10]
  6. Sensitivity – Doctors suggest that while pads are used to save the dogs from harsh surface, they are still very sensitive. Vets say that owners should keep checking their pups for cracks, cuts, change in color and texture, and adult dogs should be checked properly during summer because they might end up with blisters.[11]
  7. Carpal pad – If your canine is sitting right next to you, reading our article, have a look at the bottom of his leg and you will see a thin pad that cannot be used for balance or cushion against rough surface. So what is it for? They are actually used for a very good grip while running down the slope or stopping immediately. You may say that these are your dog’s speed breaks.[12]
  8. Claw – Claws are part of what makes a dog a predator. A claw in a dog paw looks a lot like a sharp beak of a vulture. Claws are made of thick keratin and they are used to hold on a prey, grip on the ground and digging.[13]
  9. Dew Claw – If you touch the carpal pad and then come down towards a dog paw, right before the claws, you would notice the dew claw. It does not touch the ground and always remains an inch or two higher. It is a part of the vestigial toe, but dogs no longer use it. They are mostly found on frontal legs, but some rare species e.g. Great Pyrenees and Briard have been noticed with dew claws on all four.

Dogs developed them in the days when they used to run very fast and they needed something to support the leg and save it from turning and eventually from sports injuries. Some people like to clip them, while others like to have them on their dogs. Sometimes, you have to get them removed because your dog constantly has problem with them. If you intent or need to remove them, make sure to do this before they are big, because bigger dew claws cause bleeding when they are cut.

Dog Paw

  1. Cat Feet or Dog Feet – Do you know that there are two types of dog feet; one is called the cat foot because of its compact shape of paw and the other is the large paw with pads located at a fair distance from each other? Dogs with large feet are known to be the dogs that belong to colder climates. Their long dog feet are there to act like snow shoes and protect them from the frozen land. St. Bernard and Lab Retrievers are from this type.

On the other hand we have dogs like terriers who have cat-like feet. Their feet are compact, with pads located close to each other. In this group we have dogs like terriers. The basic sign of cat-feet dogs is a round dog paw print, as compared to a long dog-paw print associated with dogs who have long paws.[14]

  1. Webbed Paws – A very interesting breed of dogs is dogs with duck-like paws. They have webbed paws and they are bred to help fishermen and rescue drowning men. Newfoundland is among the breeds of dogs with webbed-feet.[15]
  2. Corn-chip smell – If you are a dog owner, you must be aware of that corn-chip smell in a dog paw. The reason of this smell is basically a bacteria known as Proteus; these bacteria are found in a lot of places e.g. plants, water, soil, ice crystals, clouds and even in humans. This bacteria produces different types of smell depending on where it grows. On rotten fruit it gives off a different odor and on dog paws it gives off a corn-chip type smell.

Although it is for sure bacteria and no other reason why your dog feet smell like corn-chips, there is nothing much to worry about. However, if you feel that the odor has grown overwhelmingly strong, you must know that it is proportionate to the amount of bacteria on your dog’s paws. In such a situation, you always have to take certain steps to ensure that your furry friend’s paws are out of danger. Those steps are as follows:

  • Make sure to keep your dog’s feet as clean as possible. The problem occurs with the hair between toes. Make sure to bath your dog well and clean his feet with a scrub between each toe. Use warm water and make sure to dry your dog feet very well.
  • As a human being you must be aware of the nasty odor that we have in our armpits; especially when they are hairy and it is summer. Remember, that your dog’s sweat glands are not in arm pits, but between toes and that area is rich with hair. Make sure to trim those hair between the toes and keep them close to the skin. This will give less room to bacteria and offer better air circulation. As a result, you will get rid of that nasty corn-chip odor, and your dog will remain healthy.
  • Dogs are prone to dirt, bacteria, urine and feces etc. They have a very high chance of getting struck by this or that ailment. To avoid this, what you must do is to keep ready a small bowl of soapy water. Whether you are taking your dog outdoors, bringing it back home, you must dip his paws in that bowl and make sure to clean and dry him dog feet and toes.[16]

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  1. Paw Laceration – Unless you take good care of your dog and see where it is walking, your dog is highly likely to end up with tearing up its dog feet pads by simply stepping on a sharp or pointy object. Since the dog feet are exposed to dirt, urine, feces and bacteria, such a wound may easily get worse, and this is why immediate vet care is recommended.[17]
  2. Trimming the nails – Remember, dogs are almost opposite of everything that cats are. Felines need their paw nails as weapons or tools to tear soft objects apart; dogs don’t. Dogs use their dog feet in a different way. They use them to have a strong grip on ground or objects. However, nails grow with time and it becomes hard for the dogs to walk, jog, run or even stand on those overgrown nails; they might end up with leg pain or problems with bones. So, make sure to trim those nails from time to time.[18]
  3. Repairing a damaged paw – In an unfortunate event of your dog burned by hot sidewalk or frostbit because of extremely cold and frozen ground, you can take your dog to a reliable veterinarian. Such badly affected dog paw can be cured by using a tissue from a healthy paw. You must act vigilantly and in time, otherwise in worst case scenario, your dog may even lose his limbs.

So these were our 21 amazing dog paw facts, problems and their treatments. Please write back to us for feedback and let us know if our little effort helped you take much better care of your canine. We cordially appreciate any positive criticism, contribution, suggestions and questions. Let us share the love and care we have for our furry partners.