The pads on the bottom of a dog's paw provide traction, contain sweat glands and act as shock absorbers and insulators. The pads also help protect vulnerable tissues, such as muscles, nerve and blood vessels, located deep in the paw. The paw pads consist of an outer surface over a deeper layer of skin and a layer of fat.
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How Dog Paw Pads Work
The tough skin on the outer surface of the pads do not grow hair or fur. The pads allow the paw to grip the ground, so that the dog can run and make quick turns, according to AgilityAbility.com. The layer of fat acts as a cushion, which allows the dog to stand, walk, jump and run for long periods of time. The cushioning lessens the impact on the joints as the dog moves.
Types of Pads
The central part of the paw has four digital or toe pads located anteriorly. Behind them is a larger metacarpal or forelimb pad. A smaller rear or carpal pad is located further up on the front legs. The carpal pad helps stop a dog from sliding down a slope or a slippery surface. The paw pads can feel and distinguish between different types of terrain, according to VetInfo.com.
The Functions of Paw Pads
The fat in the pad acts as a natural insulator that protects the tissues of the foot from extremes in temperature. The epidermis, or thick outer layer of skin covering the pads, can be damaged from exposure to the elements and various surfaces. According to Pets.ca, the dermis, or inner layer of skin, contains sweat glands, from which ducts convey sweat to the epidermis, dispersing heat and cooling the dog.
Additional Information About Pads
The paw pads can also get sweaty when the dog is nervous or under stress, just as some people's hands get sweaty. Under normal circumstances, the sweat glands help to moisturise the pads and keep them from drying out and cracking, according to PerfectPuppyCare.com. Objects can also get stuck between the pads. Dog owners should check their pets' paws and paw pads regularly for such problems, injury or infection.
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