Should You Trim the Hair between a Dog’s Pads?

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Should You Trim the Hair between a Dog’s Pads

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Part of taking care of a dog is giving him all the grooming he needs. This ranges from combing his coat regularly to keep it neat and clean, trimming his hair, brushing his teeth, and clipping his toenails.

While most pet parents know how to keep up with these practices, a majority of them don’t know what to do about the hair between their pup’s paws.

For the most part, they have no idea if trimming the hair between the toes is even necessary or safe for the pet.

So, should you trim the hair between a dog’s pads?

We’ll find out shortly but before then, let’s learn some basics…

Functions of Dog Paw Pads

The pads of your dog are designed to provide extra cushioning to the bones, tendons, and ligaments of the paw and to protect them from shock.

The pads also increase friction when your dog is walking, so they can be said to aid dogs in walking on rough terrains. That’s why dogs that are bred in areas with rough trains have rougher and thicker paw skins while their counterparts that stay indoors have smoother, softer skin.  

Finally, pads have thick fatty tissue layers that insulate your dog’s inner feet tissues from extreme weather temperatures because they don’t conduct cold and heat as quickly.

Despite their tough design and the fact that they take a lot of punishment to serve the above-mentioned functions, paw pads also get hurt. And if they do, healing is sometimes slow.

To protect your pup’s well-being, therefore, you need to take care of his paws. Your dog needs his paws to be in top shape for him to stay on the go.

So, it is your responsibility to take care of them and ensure that your canine buddy is able to keep moving.

Should You Trim the Hair between a Dog’s Pads?

Short Answer:

Yes, you should trim the hair between a dog’s pads if they are long enough. Most breeds with short coats don’t have short hair between their toes. If you have one at home, it might not be necessary to trim the hair.

However, if the hair grows well past the pads, you will definitely need to trim them.

Long Answer:

In case you are wondering why you should trim the hair between your dog’s pads, here are a few reasons to think about:

1. Debris Build-Up

If for anything else, you should cut your dog’s paw hair because they easily pick up debris and can get matted fast. Once this happens, your dog may experience some pain as the mat pulls his skin.

Additionally, there are a plethora of pokey things that can get tangled in there including pins, rocks, thorns, foxtails, dried mud, and sand. These can make him uncomfortable at best and unsafe at worst.

2. Slip Injuries

This might come as a surprise to many but long hair between a dog’s toes can cause a host of slip and slide injuries. This is because they fold beneath the pads causing stability issues during walking and running.

3. Painful Ice Balls

During winter, it is not uncommon for a long-haired breed to have ice balls between his toes. Snow is especially notorious for promoting matting between such dogs’ pads.

Plus, drying off trimmed paws after walking in the rain or swimming is way easier compared to untrimmed ones.

4. Infections

A dog’s paw is one of those areas famous for encouraging yeast infections in canines. Being folded, it gets more humid than other areas of the body. Yeast reproduces fast under such conditions.

When you combine the folded skin with long hair between the toes, you get a good environment for yeast infections.

Trimming the hair helps the problem to a larger extent. In addition, trimmed paws are easier to access for treatment purposes.

5. Aesthetics

This one largely depends on the owner but trimmed paws look better than their untrimmed counterparts. Trimmed paws also accentuate proper foot type.

6. Cleanliness

Clean, well-trimmed paw pads don’t track as much dirt and mud into your home. So, trimming the hair between your dog’s pads will go a long way in helping your pup not track so much of the unwanted outside elements into your home.

And if you have a dog that loves to lick his paws or needs medication to be put in his paws, trimming the hair will help a lot in maintaining hygiene and promoting fast healing.

Tips for Trimming the Hair between a Dog’s Pads

You can only tell whether your dog needs trimming or not if you pay attention to his grooming needs. Ideally, you should go over all areas of his body at least once a week or when brushing him to ascertain that everything is fine.

If you notice the fur in between his toes folds beneath the pads or if it has grown longer than the paws, it is time to trim.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when trimming.

I. Use Proper Tools

The tools of the trade will determine your effectiveness or lack thereof during the trimming exercise. To be safe, use a tiny pair of clippers to keep the likelihood of accidents as low as possible.

We recommend Wahl Bravura Professional Clipper set on the shortest settings. This gives similar results to a 40 surgical pet blade.  

You can also use a pair of scissors but you’ll have to be extra careful to ensure you don’t accidentally hurt your dog in the process. We prefer Scaredy Cut Tiny Trim 4-5” scissor because it is easier to hold and can work in tight spaces.

II. Comb Before Cutting

The combing step may seem trivial but it really isn’t. If your dog has folded hair in between his paws, you want to comb it out to give you a good cut.

III. Hold The Trimming Tool Right

Whether you are using a pair of clippers or scissors, pay attention to how you hold it. You don’t want it pointing to your pup’s feet but rather parallel to it. Hold it flat against the hair and trim it.

Grooming experts also suggest holding the clipper as you hold a pencil because it provides more flexibility in your wrist.

An occasional overhand grip on the clipper may also give you a better range of motion depending on your trimming position.

V. Consider Starting With The Rare Foot

This way, you can note any adverse reactions the dog may have to handling his feet. If he is uncomfortable, you’ll be in a better position to address the situation safely.

For instance, you can train your dog on how to lie down still or give him small breaks—to let his mind off the grooming process temporarily, so that you can continue with the session again in a few minutes.

VI. Use a Scooping Motion

To avoid cutting the skin between your dog’s toes, don’t use too much pressure and always shave in a scooping motion.

VII. Trimming before vs. after bath

Trimming before or after birth have a few pros and cons worth considering.

If you trim the hair before bath, you don’t need to wash and dry your pup’s paws. However, you’ll have trimmed dirty hair/fur that may blunt your thin blade.

On the other hand, trimming after bath allows you to work on clean paws, which simplifies the process and prolongs the life of your clippers.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, the hair between a dog’s paw pads needs to be clipped if they are too long. Doing that will improve the look of the dog, keep yeast infections and other pathogens at bay, and ensure your pup is safe at all times.

If you have a long-haired breed at home, always ensure his paw hair is trimmed and neat.

The trimming process doesn’t take long but it will have a huge difference to your pup as he will have healthy paws and better movements. He won’t bring so much dirt into your home either.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.