Most pet owners do not spend a lot of time thinking about their dog’s feet. We know their nails need to be trimmed and that we shouldn’t walk them on the hot pavement or in the extreme cold. But that’s about it, if your dog is healthy. Unless your dog is experiencing symptoms like hind end weakness, arthritis or paralysis that causes their feet to knuckle under; most pet parents never consider paw protect for your dog’s dragging feet.
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Medical conditions that require paw protection for a dog’s dragging feet and knuckling paws
There is, actually, a long laundry list of medical conditions that cause a dog’s feet to drag or knuckle. The problem begins when a dog is not receiving the proper nerve sensations to their limbs. They cannot feel their feet and do not know where to place them on the ground. Dragging and knuckling prevents dogs from standing or walking normally. Those who knuckle their paws tend to touch their toes to the ground instead of placing the pads on the bottom of their paws firmly on a surface.
Here are common health problems that cause dragging and knuckling:
- Spinal cord diseases – Intervertebral Disc Disease, Hemivertebrae etc.
- Hind end weakness – Arthritis, surgical recovery, injuries etc.
- Neurological conditions – Degenerative Myelopathy, FCE strokes etc.
- Geriatric diseases
- Injuries – broken bones, sprains
The effects on a dog’s body when they drag or knuckle
When dogs drag or knuckle their paws they have more slips and falls than able-bodied pups. It is hard for them to get enough traction when they rise from a lying down position. They slip when they walk on slick surfaces.
In addition, dogs with dragging feet frequently cut and scrape the skin on their weak limbs. This is especially true for dogs who are young and otherwise healthy. Their energy level tells them to be active, so they scoot (sometimes at great speeds) around the house and outside. This can lead to injuries and open wounds.
How to prevent scrapes, open wounds and falls
The question about how to prevent these injuries and where to find products that protect a dog’s dragging paws is brought up often. In fact, it is one of the top questions I receive from pet owners.
To answer this question, I turned to the paw protection experts at Walkabout™ Harnesses. Walkabout is one of my favorite companies for disabled pets. Cathy Erwin, who founded the company, developed the original support sling for paralyzed dogs. It is the harness I used for my dog.
Walkabout makes two products that protect paws and Cathy recommended a third item that was developed for another purpose, but has proven to prevent cuts and scrapes to a dog’s hind limbs.
JAWZ are pet boots that give dogs greater traction. They are a lightweight bootie that dogs wear indoors to prevent slips and falls on slick floors. The boot fits snugly, provides a strong grip and won’t let a dog’s hind legs pull apart and do the splits. This bootie is recommended for dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy, arthritis, neuropathy, and other conditions calling for extra traction.
Walkaboots prevents scrapes from dragging toes. It is also designed to help soft tissues wounds heal. These boots fit like a glove so dogs can walk without tripping over themselves. A top lid can be added to prevent abrasions for dogs who knuckle. The boot has a rubber sole for support and is insulated to protect against bad weather. It is water resistant.
Compression Sleeve and Carpal Wrap
Cathy explained that her Walkabout Compression Sleeve and Carpal Wrap were designed for dogs with mobility problems other than dragging paws, but her customers had other ideas.
“Our customers that have paralyzed dogs wear our compression sleeves to help when the legs are dragging,” said Cathy. “They guard against rashes on the lower legs. People also use the carpal wraps for strength on the wrist joints for dogs having to carry the entire load on the front end. Whether that is in a wheel chair or in a support sling.”
The compression sleeve can be worn on the back or front legs. It is made of a durable and lightweight material that adds extra support to the lower limbs.
The carpal wrap is made from heavy duty neoprene. It gives “ultra” support to lower joints.
You can also find Walkabout products on Amazon.