You probably don’t pay much attention to your feet. However, pause for a moment and give those dogs some gratitude. They carry you around, day after weary day and rarely gripe about it. What do you do for them in return?

In all seriousness, it pays to look after your paws. Many people fail to do so, then find themselves in an uncomfortable position when something goes wrong, and they end up in a cast. Here’s your guide to how to take better care of your feet.

1. Get a Proper Shoe Measurement

Maybe you stopped measuring your feet when you turned 18, but your feet can still change over time. One recent review of the medical literature found that 24% of general patients and a whopping 37% of diabetic individuals wore ill-fitting shoes. That’s bad news, especially for folks with poor blood sugar control, putting them at risk of neuropathy. More on that shortly.

Your first order of business is to visit a professional to evaluate which inserts or shoes will benefit you the most. They’ll measure the length and width of your foot while considering factors like your arches or lack thereof. The good news is that you may not have to invest in a new wardrobe for your paws. Often, the right insoles can make your present pair work unless they’re hopelessly tight beyond even a stretcher’s ability to correct.

2. Keep Your Toenails Trimmed

You might impress people with your party trick of putting your toes in your mouth like an infant, but you should avoid nibbling on those nails. Instead, give them a proper trim and file once weekly to keep them at a healthy length. Your partner will thank you for it — no more gashing their calves when you accidentally kick them beneath the sheets.

Beyond aesthetic appeal and partner-pleasing, well-trimmed toes prevent several health risks. Dirty toenails can harbor pathogens. If you walked around barefoot outside and trod across your carpet, you could spread E. coli from pet fecal matter your paws encounter outdoors. Furthermore, proper trimming prevents painful ingrown toenails that sometimes require surgical intervention to correct. Healthcare is expensive in America — pedicure those paws.

3. Inspect Your Feet For Signs Of Trouble

While you give your toenails a trim, inspect your feet. Are there any cuts? If so, please ensure you disinfect them and treat them with a triple antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

This last step is particularly crucial if you have diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy can cause numbness in the extremities, leaving the infection to fester without your knowledge. By the time it hits areas where the nerves haven’t died, you could have severe pain and increased sepsis risk.

Other problems to watch for if you have diabetes include diabetic dermopathy. Talk to your doctor if you start noticing brownish-grayish patches, which are often shin spots, one of the first signs of this disease. You might also see thickening skin, blisters and infection around the nail beds.

4. Give Your Dogs A Little Elevation

Are your feet always cold? It could signal trouble with your heart. Cold feet can be a sign of heart failure or peripheral artery disease — heart disease is the number one killer of men and women worldwide.

One way to improve circulation to your feet is to elevate them. Tuck a stool under your work desk if no one will know. Are you working from home? There’s no reason you can’t establish a couch setup.

5. Encourage Circulation By Keeping Moving

You can also encourage circulation through a regular exercise program. Doing so is particularly helpful for folks with diabetes, as it helps promote healthier eating habits, improving blood sugar control.

The trick is to find something that you love. Dancing is a fabulous exercise form you can do right in your living room — all you need is a beat. Water-based workouts are a blessing for folks with chronic pain conditions like arthritis, as they take the pressure off your joints. Look for a well-heated, comfortable pool.

How To Take Better Care Of Your Feet

You probably don’t give your dogs much appreciation for all the hard work they do every day. However, you’ll notice it if trouble arises.

Beat it before it strikes by following this guide to take better care of your feet. You’ll feel more comfortable with every step you take.