By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/22/2017, edited: 10/17/2021
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Our dogs rely on their feet for mobility, with the pads playing an important part. The pads act as a shock absorber, protecting the bones and joints from impact. They also protect against the elements. A dog’s paws may look tough and hardy, but they can suffer injury and do need care.
If your dog’s pads become cracked and uncomfortable, their quality of life can quickly diminish. Walks suddenly become a chore and even getting up for food can be debilitating. This article will identify some of the causes of cracked paws. We’ll also outline how to give your furry buddy the best dog paw care possible.
Why Do My Dog's Paws Crack?
We mentioned that your dog’s pads serve as a barrier to the elements. Exposure to the elements is one of the main causes of cracked paws. Contact with de-icing salt in cold climates can cause the pads to become dry and cracked. As well, a dog who often walks on hot asphalt will experience pain and burning, leading to hard and split pads. Remember, if the pavement is too cold or hot to the touch of your hands, it’s not suitable for a dog’s paws!
Other contributors to dry and split paw pads are contact irritants (like floor cleaners or grass fertilizer), zinc deficiency, lack of protein, and allergies that cause a dog to constantly lick their paws, leading to self-trauma. If you do notice any paw problems, your dog’s veterinarian will be able to help you identify the cause and treat the problem.
What Dog Paw Care Products Should I Use?
Cracked paws can occur as a result of any of the above reasons, but identifying the problem early will increase the chances of rapid recovery. As soon as you notice a limp, blood, or discomfort, keep the area as clean as possible to prevent infection.
Taking a proactive approach against cracking by using moisturizer for your dog’s pads is a recommendation that vet’s often suggest. Using Vitamin E cream for dogs as a salve for their paws is a take-charge approach to preventing injury and pain. Rub the cream directly on the pad with a gentle massaging motion and use it as often as you would use moisturizer for your own hands.
If your dog’s paws are already cracked and sore, it is never too late to begin using dog paw care products. Applying Vitamin E oil for dog paws after injury will help to soften the dry and split skin. As with Vitamin E cream, full absorption is key. After you apply the Vitamin E oil, watch your pup to make sure they are not licking the product off.
You can also speak to your veterinarian about giving your canine pal Vitamin E or Omega-3 fatty acid in the form of a capsule. Studies have shown that these supplements have anti-inflammatory benefits and other properties like promoting heart health. Do not supplement without a vet’s instruction, however, as over supplementation can be harmful to your dog.
Other products, like beeswax, musher’s wax, and paw balm are beneficial to soothe cracked feet and provide a barrier of protection to the skin. Wax is especially good in cold climates as it does not easily rub off when your pal is running in the snow or on ice. When buying a wax or balm, check the label carefully to ensure that they contain only natural, dog-safe ingredients.
Many pet parents use cracked dog paws home remedies to treat sore and painful pads. The appeal of a natural, one ingredient salve that comes straight from your pantry or medicine cabinet speaks volumes. A simple approach is often easier to maintain.
Have your pup put their paw in an Epsom salt soak for about 10 minutes, rinsing thoroughly when done. Another option is to carefully massage olive oil into the pads. When using this tasty oil, feed your dog afterward; this will allow the oil to soak in while your dog is enjoying their meal. Applying a thin coat of Vaseline is another vet-approved home remedy, best applied when you can distract your pet with an activity to prevent them from licking it off.
Keep in mind the saying “too much of a good thing.” When caring for cracked canine paws, do not overdo it. Over-moisturizing can lead to soft paws that are more susceptible to injury. Your dog’s paws are meant to be rough to give them grip and traction over terrain. A balanced approach is a necessity, so speak with your vet to be fully informed on pad and paw care.
While humans put on shoes to protect their feet from the elements, dogs have to make do with their built-in footwear. When your dog’s paws get dry, cracked and sore, your pooch can quickly become immobile. He won’t want to walk, could go off his food, and his quality of life will be seriously dampened. Fortunately, your vet can help identify the cause and help you care for cracked paws, suggesting creams, ointments and keeping those paws as clean as possible.