How Can I Heal My Dog's Cracked Paws?
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Has your dog’s smooth paw pads become unusually rough lately? To the point where they’re cracking?
Cracked dog paws are actually pretty common, especially if you live in really hot or cold temperatures — and they can be pretty painful for your dog.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Patricia Squillace, chief medical officer at Veterinary Care Group, to find out how to heal your dog’s cracked paws, and keep them soft forever!
What causes cracked dog paws?
Your dog might have cracked, rough or dry paw pads because he has encountered one or more of the following on his walks:
- Extremely hot or cold pavement
- Ice melt
“Pad health is closely related to the surface that dog walks on and the temperature of the surface,” Dr. Squillace told The Dodo. “Hot pavement can cause burning. Cold temperatures can dry out pads.”
Temperatures aren’t the only thing to blame. “Ice melt, meaning salt and chemicals in the winter, along with pesticides applied to lawns in the summer, can all injure the pad surface,” Dr. Squillace said.
Symptoms of dog paw problems
Cracked dog paws can be painful for your pup, especially if they’re not treated.
They can usually be remedied at home, but if your dog’s cracked paw pads are severe enough that they’re causing pain, it might be a good idea to have your vet check them out.
Signs that your dog’s cracked paws should be checked out include the following:
- Constant licking of the paws
- Paw swelling
- Reluctance to go on walks
Also, if you notice zero improvement on your dog’s cracked paws after treating them regularly for a while, you should definitely contact your vet — since something else more serious might be to blame.
“There are times that cracked paws are associated with an underlying health problem [e.g., an autoimmune-disease, underlying liver disease or hyperkeratosis],” Dr. Squillace said. “If your pet’s paws are not getting better despite all your efforts, you need to consult your veterinarian.”
Dog paw balm
If your dog has rough, cry or cracked paws, a paw balm can help heal them.
“A thin layer of Bag Balm can be applied to affected paws as an initial at-home treatment,” Dr. Squillace said.
Applying vitamin E oil to your dog’s paws can also help make them smoother. Or, you can choose a paw balm that has vitamin E as an added ingredient.
“Just don’t let the dog lick it,” Dr. Squillace said, since that prevents the balm or oil from doing its job.
To keep your dog from licking his paws after application, you can put a recovery cone on him, or give him an interactive treat dispenser to keep him busy.
Dog paw protection
There are a few preventative measures you can take to make sure your dog’s paws stay nice and smooth for good.
To prevent your dog’s paws from cracking, Dr. Squillace recommends limiting time outdoors in very hot or cold weather. And, if possible, avoid walking your dog on surfaces that are particularly rough.
You might also want to consider cleaning your dog’s paw pads after a walk, and investing in dog
boots or a paw wax to use preventatively.
Dog paw washer
Dog paw washers are a super convenient way to clean your dog’s paws after going outside, which removes any weird, potentially irritating substances, like ice melts and pesticides.
“Clean feet after walks or when coming in from the yard,” Dr. Squillace said. “Just make sure you dry the feet thoroughly.”
Dog paw wax
There are also paw waxes that protect your dog’s paws while out on walks, which can actually prevent cracked paws if you use them regularly.
Paw waxes act like an invisible boot that provides a layer of protection from harmful surfaces.
“Apply Musher’s Wax before going out in the winter,” Dr. Squillace said. This wax (which is a favorite of the Dodo office dogs) can also be used in the summer for hot surfaces.
Dog booties are another great way to protect your dog’s fragile paw pads, and most can be used in both snow and extreme heat.
Keep in mind that it might take some time for your dog to get used to them, though, so introduce dog booties slowly.
That might mean letting him sniff the booties one day, then touch his paws with the booties the next. If he’s comfortable, you can try putting one shoe on, adding more as time goes on, until he’s totally comfortable wearing all four.
Cracked dog paws can be frustrating to deal with, but once they’re healed and protected, you can follow these tips to make sure you and your dog won’t ever have to deal with them again!
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