Have you ever wondered why your Maltese is constantly licking or nibbling their feet?
The truth is that Maltese paws can be quite delicate, prone to various issues that can affect their mobility and overall comfort. Whether it be a bee sting, a food sensitivity, or something else entirely.
Here are some practical tips to keep those precious paws happy and healthy.
What do healthy Maltese paws look like?
When it comes to healthy Maltese paws, there are a few key things to look out for.
Firstly, the paw pads should be smooth and free of any cracks or dryness. While a little bit of roughness is normal, they shouldn’t be completely rough. Healthy paws will also have a good amount of firm, pinkish skin without any redness or swelling.
Additionally, the nails should be kept at an appropriate length – not too long to cause discomfort or difficulty walking, but not too short to risk cutting into the quick.
Having said that, let’s explore some of the potential issues that can arise with Maltese paws.
Common paw issues in Maltese Dogs
Paw pad injuries
A paw pad injury can occur due to multiple reasons. These can include stepping on sharp objects, hot surfaces, or chemical substances. Similarly, a bee sting or other insect bite can cause irritation or swelling on the paw pads.
Keep an eye out for any signs of bleeding, limping, swelling, or excessive licking of the paws.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to examine the paw carefully, extract any foreign objects if present, and clean the wound with a mild anti-bacterial soap. Then, cover the injured paw with a clean bandage and be sure to change it regularly.
In case the injury is serious or doesn’t improve within a day or two, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for further treatment.
Dry, cracked paws
Just like human skin, a dog’s paw pads can become dry and cracked, especially in harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat or cold. This can be very uncomfortable and even painful for your Maltese, and they may be more susceptible to infections or injuries.
To prevent and treat dry, cracked paws, make sure your Maltese’s paws are kept moisturized. You can use a dog-specific paw balm or coconut oil to hydrate the pads. Apply it regularly, preferably after walks or exposure to extreme weather.
Allergies are a common issue among Maltese dogs.
Some dogs may be allergic to certain substances in their environment, like pollen or grass, while others may have food allergies. This can result in itchiness, redness, swelling, and hair loss.
Your vet may recommend allergy testing to identify specific allergens and suggest diet changes or prescribe medication to manage the allergic reactions.
Many pet owners, however, have found that switching to grain-free dog food and adding fish oil supplements can greatly alleviate allergy symptoms, while others recommend using stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead of plastic.
If your Maltese suffer from environmental allergies, wipe their paws after walks and keep them indoors during peak pollen times. You’ll also want to regularly vacuum or wash their bedding and use an air purifier to improve air quality.
Fungal and bacterial infections
When a dog’s immune system is weakened (for example, due to allergies or other underlying health conditions), it becomes more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections.
In this case, you’ll need to take your Maltese to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. They may prescribe a topical antifungal cream or an antibacterial shampoo to help clear up the infection.
For more stubborn infections, oral medications or antibiotics may be necessary.
An often overlooked cause of paw pad problems in Maltese dogs is overgrown nails.
When a dog’s nails are too long, they can start to curl and push into the paw pads, causing discomfort and pain. In addition, this constant pressure can lead to inflammation and infections.
The solution here is simple: regular nail trimming. You can either learn to trim your Maltese’s nails at home or take them to a professional groomer or veterinarian for regular nail trims.
Stress or boredom
Although it may seem unrelated, stress and boredom may contribute to a dog’s tendency to excessively lick or chew their paws.
This behavior can lead to irritation and open wounds on the paw pads. Excessive licking or chewing can also introduce bacteria into the paws, increasing the risk of inflammation and infection.
To address stress or boredom-related paw licking, you’ll need to identify the underlying cause.
Is your Maltese getting enough physical and mental stimulation? Are there any changes in their environment that could be causing anxiety?
In some cases, seeking professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist may be necessary to deal with severe stress or obsessive behaviors.
Maltese paws can suffer from a range of issues, including injuries, dryness, allergies, and infections. Other common problems include overgrown nails and stress or boredom-related behaviors.
Most of these things can be addressed at home with proper care and attention. However, always consult with a veterinarian if you notice any persistent or worsening symptoms.