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The Anatomy of a Paw Pad

The anatomy of a dog's paw is intricate and specially adapted to their needs, providing support, protection, and traction. Big or small, tall or short, they all rely on the same 4 paws learn more about the 4, quite literal, legs they have to stand on below...

1. Digital Pads

These are the small, rounded pads located under each toe (digit). Dogs typically have four toes on each foot, though some breeds have a fifth toe, called the dewclaw. Digital pads help provide traction and cushion the dog's steps.

2. Metacarpal/Metatarsal Pad

This is the large pad in the center of the paw, often referred to as the "palm" of the paw. On the front paws, it’s called the metacarpal pad, and on the hind paws, it’s called the metatarsal pad. It absorbs shock and supports the dog's weight.

3. Carpal Pad

Located further up the leg, the carpal pad is on the front paws only. It doesn't touch the ground while walking but provides extra traction and support when the dog is running or climbing steep surfaces.

4. Claws

Each toe has a claw, commonly referred to as a nail. Claws help with digging and provide additional traction. They also assist in grasping and holding objects.

If your dog is suffering form dry and cracked paws, sensisitve feet, chewing at their paws, redness, cracked or split nails, long nails, matting, long hair between the toes or any other discomfort around their feet, you can book specificall for a foot and nail health check with K9 Anytime Grooming

5. Dewclaw

This is an extra toe located higher up on the leg. Some dogs have dewclaws on their hind legs as well. Dewclaws might not touch the ground but can aid in gripping objects.

6. Interdigital Skin

This is the skin between the toes, often more sensitive than other areas. It's prone to irritation and infections if not kept clean.

7. Fur

Some breeds have fur covering their paws, providing additional insulation and protection. However, excessive fur might require trimming to prevent matting and ensure proper traction.

8. Bones and Joints

The bones in a dog’s paw include the phalanges (bones of the toes), metacarpals (front paw), and metatarsals (hind paw). These bones are connected by joints, allowing for movement and flexibility.

9. Tendons and Ligaments

Tendons connect muscles to bones, and ligaments connect bones to each other. They provide stability and enable movement in the paw.

10. Blood Vessels and Nerves

A network of blood vessels provides necessary nutrients and oxygen, while nerves supply sensation, allowing the dog to feel textures, temperature, and pain.

11. Fatty Tissue

Beneath the pads is a layer of fatty tissue that acts as a shock absorber, protecting the bones and joints from impact during walking, running, and jumping.

Functions of a Dog's Paw:

  • Traction: The rough surface of the pads provides grip, preventing slipping.

  • Shock Absorption: Pads and fatty tissue cushion the impact, protecting the joints and bones.

  • Protection: The tough outer layer of the pads protects against rough surfaces, hot pavement, and cold ice.

  • Sensory Input: Nerves in the paw pads provide sensory feedback, helping dogs navigate their environment.

If your dog is suffering form dry and cracked paws, sensisitve feet, chewing at their paws


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