Your dog’s paws should be rough, but if they are excessively dry or cracked this can put your pooch in pain. Read on to find out what you should do if you suspect your dog is suffering from cracked paws.
What Are Paw Pads and How Do They Crack?
The pads on your dog’s paws absorb shock, sparing excessive pressure on their joints. Fun fact: dogs actually do sweat, contrary to popular belief. They produce sweat in areas not covered by fur, such as their noses and paw pads! Several factors can lead to cracked paw pads.
Using floor cleaners with harsh chemicals could affect your dog’s paws. Remember to use more mild or organic cleaners. Whatever you use, your dog will be licking it when they lick their paws. Paw licking is normal, but if it goes on for more than just a few minutes this is a sign that your dog’s pads are not healthy. There could be a pH imbalance caused by not enough meat in their dog food. A zinc deficiency can also lead to cracks. Fish oil can combat this, which may be prescribed by your vet. The climate and weather can also lead to cracked pet paws. If winters in the area where you live are snowy or you live in a very dry climate, your dog may have dry paws.
Being proactive is the best way to keep your dog’s paws healthy. Change the chemicals you use to clean your house, change your dog’s diet, and check their paws on the daily for dryness during winter. Have you ever seen your dog limping or raising their paw during a walk in the winter? It’s not because their paw is cold, but because the rock salt is burning them. Prolonged exposure leads to chemical burns. When you get home, if your dog licks their paws they are ingesting deicing chemicals.
To prevent this, simply wash your dog’s paws with warm water when you get home from a winter walk. When doing so, be sure to remove any chunks of salt or ice. You could even put booties on your dog if they are willing. Putting boots on your dog will save you the trouble of washing their paws, but it is not the solution for everyone. Some dogs will fuss and remove them immediately. Limiting the length of walks in winter will also decrease irritation.
You should not use moisturizers designed for humans on your dog’s paws. These can contain chemicals that are harmful if ingested. You can find moisturizer specifically designed for dog noses and paws at any big store with a pharmacy section, or you could even try making some of your own.
Caring For Cracks
If you spot cracks and they don’t seem very deep, try treating them by cleaning them with a rag, warm water, and antibacterial soap. After drying them, apply petroleum jelly and rub it in well so even when your dog licks, it won’t be ingested. The salves that are safe to ingest will also not work if it is not rubbed in well and your dog immediately licks it off. Put an Elizabethan collar on your dog to prevent this.
If the cracks are more severe or bleeding, do not hesitate to go to the vet. Before doing so, you should still wash and bandage your dog’s paws gently. Wash with warm water and antibacterial soap and then bandage them. If you don’t have bandages, then a soft, clean sock can also be used. Cracks in pads could be a sign of a serious illness, so your vet may want to do bloodwork on your dog to figure out the best prescription. After your visit, your dog’s bandages must be changed regularly.
In short, cracks can be caused both by external and internal forces. Winter is hard on everyone, including your dog. If you suspect something more serious, like an illness that could be causing cracks in your dog’s paws, consult your veterinarian.