Why groom your dog's feet? Especially the underside of his paws--you can't even see those, right?
For many dogs that have hair growing thick between their paw pads, especially long-haired and silk-haired breeds, this excess hair can cause a multitude of problems. Excess hair growing in the feet can cause reduced traction on slippery floor surfaces, resulting in slips, falls, and injuries. Also, long hair on the feet collects dirt and debris, which can be tracked in your house. Long hair between the toes can become matted from friction when your dog walks and cause discomfort to your dog, even sores that can become infected. Wet hair between the toes does not easily dry, can collect bacteria and dirt, and result in fungal or bacterial infections on your dog's feet, especially between toes. Debris can also attach to hair between your dog's toes, and if you live in a cold climate, snow buildup on long hair between the toes can cause your dog's feet to get frostbite. Mud, grass seeds, burrs, gum, and other debris can get caught, build up, and cause mats and sores that compromise paws pads and foot tissues. So removing excess hair on the foot is a benefit, not just to having your dog's paws look neater, but reduces the likelihood of injury and painful conditions in your dog's paws.
Yikes, my feet are ticklish! Feet can be sensitive and delicate, which is ironic for something we walk on! Many dogs do not like having them handled. Also, if your dog has sore paw pads from mats or infection between the toes, or cracks on the pads his feet may hurt, causing him to be reluctant to have them handled. Another issue is that it is not uncommon for a dog to have accidentally had his nails cut too short in the past, which is very painful. All these reasons can cause your dog to be uncomfortable and uncooperative having his feet groomed. Handling your dog's feet on a daily basis, even when not grooming, will desensitize your dog to having his feet handled, making it easier at grooming time, and will enable you to find cracks, mats, and sores as soon as they become apparent so you can do something right away.
You can put vitamin E oil or paw lotions or ointments on paws that have rashes or sores or just to keep your dog's feet in good health. Be sure to use products that will not harm your dog if he licks them off.
Address any injuries or infections present between the toes or on paw pads with your veterinarian.
Make sure your dog does not move while you are trimming nails or clipping hair, to avoid injury. Be extremely cautious, if using scissors, to keep the point away from your dog's skin and hold scissors parallel to your dog.
Nail clippers, scissors, and clipper blades should be sharp, and clippers well oiled and cool while using.
Regular handling of your dog's feet will make it easier to groom them at grooming time and reveal debris caught between toes sooner.
Use assistance, non-slip mats, and restraints to keep your dog still during feet grooming to prevent injury.
If your dog has arthritis or orthopedic conditions that make it difficult to manipulate his limbs to access paws , you may need to come up with alternate methods to groom his feet, such as teaching your dog to lie on his side or back, or having an assistant hold your dog in a position that allows you to access feet without stressing your dog.