keeping a dog’s feet clean

When I was a very young child, I wanted to catch a pigeon.  My grandmother told me  I had to sprinkle salt on its tail.  I asked my mother why that would work. She responded, “If you can get close enough to a pigeon to sprinkle salt on it’s tail, you can  get the pigeon.”

I am not sure this is a good analogy, but if you keep the dog’s feet clean, you keep the whole dog clean. But how?  If your dog doesn’t have long hair on its feet, skip this blog, it’s a waste of time. If you have a dog with  hair on its feet:  Afghan Hound, Bearded Collie, Shih Tzu, or one of the  Spaniels (Cocker, Cavalier, Papillon, English Toy Spaniel), you might get something out of this.

People who  have  show dogs in show coat generally have a special  area to exercise their dogs where their dogs feet won’t get muddy.  usually this is a slightly inclined  dog run, covered with  (ideally) river rock, which are smooth stones, but it may be gravel or limestone chunks.    Stone drains easily, and although you will lose stone when picking up poops,  this is really the most ideal  surface.  It’s uneven, forcing the dogs to arch their toes.  They usually grind their toenails down naturally, and a healthy foot supports a healthy leg—just supports the whole dog better. Groomers see so many dogs with broken down/splayed feet.  Especially if a dog is overweight (& this is usually the cause of broken down feet, unless the dog  was bred to have  ‘soft’ feet, like Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs), this can be quite painful for a dog, particularly an older, arthritic dog.   I’ve  worked for several hobby breeders who has set-ups like this, and  even had  part of the run covered with a canopy.  The dog was still outside, but if it rained, he didn’t have to  go out in it to relieve himself.  This is something to consider when you board your dog.

Many people who have  a pet they are showing or just like the hair,  put boots on their dogs.  There are stretchable ones that seem to work very well,  You do have to get the dog used to wearing them, and they take some time to put on the dog.

What I do,  is keep a bucket of water by the door, and swish my dogs’ feet around in it to loosen the dirt.  You still have to  brush out the feet when the dog dries. Don’t forget between the toes.  I don’t dematt  those matts. I cut them out.  In fact, for the Afghan Hounds I was not showing, I  scissored up their feet.  I feel it’s the most expedient thing to do.
There is a contraption, a sort of covered bucket with a hole, that you can  put your dog’s foot though  and agitate the dirt out.  I guess it works for some. I’d rather just use a simple bucket.  I also when grooming the dog and finishing the groom, spray the dog all over—including the feet, with either THE STUFF, or Chris Christensen ICE ON ICE. These products repel dirt and prevent matting for up to a week.

Don’t be afraid to wash the dog’s feet.  The whitening shampoos really work, you can see the chemical reaction  in  about a minute.  What they do is sort of create an optical illusion of making the hair reflect light.

I’ve detailed several options.  If your dog is always a mess, you might want to consider one of these.


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