This minor mishap occurs frequently with dogs whose lives are not bounded by an asphalt road or concrete sidewalks. It is only minor in nature, like a blister on a human foot, and if dealt with promptly and sensibly the incident is soon forgotten. Look carefully at the pads as soon as the dog begins to limp or licks at his foot. If this is done the thorn will often be seen intact, its point embedded in the pad.
Carefully grasp the stout end of the thorn and pull it out, taking care not to break it. When at home once more, bathe the foot thoroughly with warm water, dry, then dab with tincture of iodine. No further attention should be necessary.If, however, the thorn has broken, leaving only the sharp point in the pad, a good light, a sharp pair of eyes, and a pair of forceps are the most successful combination. Removal will have to be done at home, but little damage is likely to happen on the way as the dog will carry the tender limb. Fine pointed forceps are ideal, but depilatory (eyebrow plucking) forceps are quite useful. When the thorn has been removed dab the point of entry with a little iodine.
When, despite a thorough search, no sign of the thorn can be found soak the foot thoroughly in warm water, gently washing the pads at the same time. Sometimes a small crack or cut, or split, may be the cause of the pain, and minute granules of glass, dirt or sand getting lodged in these small wounds can cause quite a tender foot. This bathing should be repeated twice daily until the pain has gone.
If after 2 or 3 days there is any swelling, heat or pain it is as well to consult your veterinary surgeon. The foreign body may have worked right into the fleshy portion of the pad and produced a small abscess. This will have to be opened under local anesthetic, and then probed and cleansed to remove the cause of the trouble.
Generally speaking, however, the thorn in the pad case is one which the intelligent owner can deal with quite adequately himself.
Ticks are sometimes a cause of extreme irritation to dogs. They are oval in shape and gray or brown in color, and about how long, being much larger than the more common parasites, fleas or lice. Ticks are most frequently acquired by dogs in the autumn months, especially if the dogs have been on land recently pastured with sheep. The tick is a bloodsucker and buries its head, which has very powerful jaws, into the dog’s skin. The rear portion of the tick lies free of the skin, and when touched gives the impression that the parasite is only lightly adhering to the animal. Any attempt to pull the body of the tick will result in the body coming away, leaving the head and jaw portion firmly embedded in the skin. If this happens, the irritation caused by the remaining head will result in a painful area. A small abscess may form.
To remove the tick in its entirety is therefore most important, and this can be managed by making the parasite relax its hold on the animal. This is best done by holding a swab of cottonwood, well soaked in methylated spirit, surgical spirit, ether or chloroform, over the tick for a good 3-5 minutes. The spirit must come into direct contact with the head, so the dog’s hair should be parted at the tick’s point of attachment.
It is important that the spirit-soaked swab is pressed firmly on the tick to ensure adequate penetration of the anaesthetising fluid. After this thorough soaking the body of the tick should be grasped and a firm, gentle tug should remove it intact. The small wound caused by the tick should be well swabbed with a little tincture of iodine, and this dressing repeated each day for two days.