Get Your Dog's Feet In Shape Right Now!

Get Your Dog's Feet In Shape Right Now!

Caring for your dog's feet is a top priority, especially if you own a field dog that may cover miles of rough country in a single day of hunting. A cut or injury to a dog's footpads can be frustratingly difficult to heal, and all but assures a lengthy hunting hiatus. This is why getting your dog's feet in shape for hunting season needs to start right now.

Think about it. Have you ever stared at a cut stem of barley and thought, "boy, that looks like it could do some damage?" You're not far off. Modern crop varieties have been engineered tougher to withstand environmental damages and disease. So tough in fact, those giant, man-sized tractor tires are more prone to puncture.

Some farmers won't even drive their pickups into the field for fear of blowing a $300 Bridgestone. A 2010 article from No-Till Farmer Even pointed to purchasing narrower tires that travel between rows to avoid the crop stubble entirely.

Marinate on that a bit. These are the same fields your Lab is blazing across retrieving honkers and mallards. Add in other unseen hazards (watch out for leftover nails and shards of wood siding in tornado country), and you see why paw health is a priority.


Some turn to dog boots, however I've yet to witness a brand hold up or stay on all day, let alone all season. The best defense against injuries is a good offense, and offseason is the ideal time to get started.


Think of paws as tennis shoes. Thick pads absorb shock and increase endurance. Rough pads also allow for increased traction for quicker turns and sprinting. Although highly specialized, the skin on a dog's paw is not unlike our own. Dogs that see little exercise or spend most of their time on carpets and lawns will have softer paws. These are more prone to injury than pads that are worked regularly. It's the difference between the hands of a guy who spent 30 years at a desk pushing papers, versus a mechanic. Skin thickens and toughens when it is faced with systematic assaults that are enough to irritate but not damage. Two ways to accomplish this are through exercise on a surface such as gravel, or by applying a chemical irritant (Tuf-Foot is one such brand). Just be 100 percent certain your dog's feet are already healed before hitting the road, and avoid blacktop on hot summer days as this can severely burn pads.

Also note that balms such as Udder Cream or Musher's Secret soften the skin. These products may be good for healing wounds and growing new tissue, but won't toughen pads.

Begin a paw-exercise regimen now during the dog days of summer, and your retriever will be much better prepared to go all out without blowing a pad this fall.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

Browning A5 Shotgun -

Browning A5 Shotgun - 'Gun Stories'

Gun Stories host Joe Mantegna talks about the origin and history of the Browning A5 shotgun.

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

Swedish Duck Hunt

Swedish Duck Hunt

Kevin Steele takes part in a family driven duck hunt in Sweden.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke Accessories

8 Best Choke Tubes for 2017

Wildfowl Online Staff - October 25, 2017

While there's no guarantee they'll make you a better shot, these 8 newly-designed shotgun choke

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways! Clothing & Waders

New SITKA Women's Waterfowl Lineup for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full...

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show! Shotguns

Best New Waterfowl Shotguns for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 23, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show!

Consistency is what pushes today's shotshell makers to constantly improve new waterfowl loads Ammo

11 Best New Shotshell Loads For Waterfowl

Wildfowl Online Staff - August 17, 2017

Consistency is what pushes today's shotshell makers to constantly improve new waterfowl loads

See More Trending Articles

More Retriever

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability. Retriever

How Stress Affects a Dog's Hunting Ability

Tony J. Peterson

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability.

The key is off-season work. Retriever

Training Gun Dogs for Double & Triple Retrieves

Tom Dokken

The key is off-season work.

Are you asking enough of your retriever? Maybe your good gun dog could be great. Retriever

Reach Your Duck Dog's Full Potential

Tom Dokken

Are you asking enough of your retriever? Maybe your good gun dog could be great.

Make time for these three drills every month, and watch your pup prosper. Retriever

3 Duck Dog Drills to Practice Every Month

Tom Dokken

Make time for these three drills every month, and watch your pup prosper.

See More Retriever

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now