I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Today’s guest post is by Elysa Horvath, the chief paw protector at Natural Paws. Elysa uses essential oil and herbal infusions to provide holistic benefits, neutralizing allergy symptoms, infections, and inflammation, building skin strength while providing gentle aromatherapy.
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.
Also like us, dogs do need attention to their skin to keep it maintained and allow it to do its jobs. 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. Dryness and cracking often go overlooked, and dogs can show their caregivers that there’s an issue by excessively licking or chewing on those pads. 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. However, domestic dogs live in the environment we have created for them, including chemically treated carpeting, tile floors, and concrete… a far cry from natural paths their pads were designed for!
They also have some features not everyone is aware of, one being that they act as tiny shock absorbers for the entire body, which in turn protects the joints and sockets of the body. They’re designed for action!
Another 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 and protect them, we must keep this in mind so as not to inhibit this important function! What does that mean specifically? Aside from avoiding introduction of toxins whenever possible, we shouldn’t apply anything which might be clogging to these pores. Petroleums, waxes, parabens, and butters can be particularly worrisome. If you choose 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 the first step, and you may be wondering what a dog’s caregiver needs to know about holistic maintenance. Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind on an ongoing 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 shard of glass under that dirt, cleaning the paws regularly will bring these injuries to your attention quickly. If there is an infection or cut, you’ll want to treat it right away to keep the infection from entering the internal systems of the dog.
Moisturize and Massage: Who doesn’t love a good foot rub? Essential oil blends are blissful when rubbed into the skin, and dogs are not immune to this joy! And what better way to keep those pads in tip-top shape for all of that shock absorbing we’ve learned about, than using botanicals to increase their elasticity and overall strength? Choose a product that is safe for the paws and also safe if licked, and one which offers anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Avoid anything containing alcohol, as this will sting and is not safe if licked.
Always allow the dog to give a quick sniff to any new massage products you’re using, to make them a part of the process. Consider the aromatherapy as well as the benefits each ingredient will provide. Always use a product made for dogs, as undiluted essential oils can overload the system and create the very toxicity we’re avoiding. Some natural products which are safe for humans, can be dangerous or even fatal 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.
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 botanicals for paw pad and skin wellness. 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 at pet-centered and animal rescue events around the Southwest and can be contacted at [email protected].