We’ve all heard the phrase: happy wife, happy life. But have you ever heard the phrase: healthy dog paw, healthy pets?
If not, think about it for a second. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, dogs and cats don’t have shoes! They’re walking around all day long barefoot. So, if their paws are injured or causing them great discomfort, you can imagine how debilitating and even unsafe that could be.
But how, exactly, should you prevent your dog’s paws from cracking? And, if they do crack, what are you supposed to do about it?
We’ll cover all that and more in this short article below!
What Causes Dry Cracked Dog Paws?
As with, well, any kind of physical malady, there are many reasons why your dog’s paws might be cracked or dry. However, although it might be time-consuming, it’s important that you uncover the root cause of why your dog has dry cracked paws. Not knowing what’s causing your dog to have cracked paws will make it much more difficult to find an effective treatment.
Allergens to Certain Foods
As with humans, certain ingredients can cause reactions in your pup if they’re allergic to them. No wonder dogs are man’s best friends – they can even relate to physically breaking out after eating something that they’re allergic to!
When your dog eats something that she’s allergic to, her body can develop a number of different reactions. One of these reactions includes persistent itching around the ears, coat, and/or paws. Eventually, your dog will become sick of the itching and begin scratching or chewing her paws to find relief. When this happens, her excessive chewing and biting can cause her paws to become dry and cracked.
If the source of this allergic reaction is not found and removed from her diet, your dog’s itching may become truly constant and even become a learned habit. That’s a tough one to break! Over time, this will exacerbate any existing cracks or dryness on your dog’s paw pads and perhaps even cause them to bleed.
Regular Ole Wear and Tear
Look, it makes sense, right? Your dogs’ feet go through a ton of stress just by doing everyday things. Luckily it’s not as though your dog is walking everywhere on her bare paws, she has paw pads for protection.
In fact, your dog’s paw pads are doing an incredibly important job by absorbing shock from each step that might otherwise damage leg joints. By absorbing that shock, your dog’s paw pads essentially enable your dog to run, crawl, or jump without breaking its legs. However, this constant use of her paw pads can also lead to a lot of wear and tear and, eventually, cracked paws.
And, similar to a car (weird connection, we know), dogs’ paw pads go through even more wear and tear in the heat of summer or in the dead of winter. The salt products and other antifreeze solutions that are distributed on roads and sidewalks really cause havoc for your dog’s paw pads. Similarly, in summer, the intense heat of asphalt in the middle of the season can also dry out your dog’s paw pads and lead to cracking along with causing burns to your dog’s pads.
Prolonged Contact with Other Surface Irritants
Then again, there’s plenty of other stuff that’s detrimental to your dog’s paw pads besides ice salt. In fact, there’s a ton of stuff that you probably shouldn’t ever let your dog put her paws on or into if you can help it.
Some common irritants of dog’s paw pads include:
- Certain grasses
- Pollen on the ground
- Garden sprays including lawn treatments (pesticides, fertilizers etc)
- Chemicals in most household cleaners
Underlying Health Problems
We know, we never like to think about this sort of thing, either. After all, we’d much prefer it if small, annoying health inconveniences stayed that way when it came to our furry friends – small and annoying.
But, unfortunately, that’s not always the way it goes. Sometimes these seemingly small symptoms are actually indicative of larger, more chronic health issues. Thankfully, by remaining diligent and catching these diseases in their earlier stages, we can increase the likelihood that our four-legged friends can get treatment that will be effective.
Liver diseases may manifest in dogs’ paw pads as non-healing lesions that, as they get stepped on, may begin to crack and bleed. These lesions may present with crusting, thickening, erosions, blisters, and more. According to Dr. Donna Raditic, in a conversation with PetMD, the reason that cracked paws may be a symptom of liver disease is likely to do with the role that the liver plays in nutrient absorption and metabolism.
“Paw pads really need good nutrition to keep replacing dead cells with new healthy cells,” Dr. Raditic said. “If nutrient metabolism (i.e. iron, copper, zinc, vitamins A and D, etc.) is not normal due to a diseased liver, then skin/paw cells will not make enough new cells and/or the new cells will not be healthy and be a normal surface barrier.”
Similarly, dogs who suffer from a lackluster endocrine system may also present with lesions or infections on their paw pads. This is because her body has a hard time replenishing the cells that become her paw pads,. If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a hormonal imbalance caused by a malfunctioning endocrine system, he may run blood tests. Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism may be to blame for your dog’s cracked paws and either can be treated. We’ll explain.
Cushing’s disease is an ailment that usually affects middle-aged dogs and causes thinning of the skin, which can lead to hair loss, chronic infections, excessive appetite, and panting. Hypothyroidism is when a dog produces very low levels of a thyroid hormone, which may present as suddenly gaining weight, being lethargic, or having an unhealthy coat.
Dogs share a lot of really crummy things with humans. One of them being the ability to develop autoimmune disorders. As with their bipedal counterparts, dogs who have autoimmune disorders suffer from a condition where their immune cells begin destroying their normal, healthy cells.
Unfortunately, this destruction of healthy cells can happen almost anywhere on your dog’s body – including their paw pads. This can lead to conditions such as footpad hyperkeratosis or pemphigus.
What’s worse – most autoimmune disorders are not curable. Fortunately, though, they are almost always able to be kept under control via immunosuppressive medications and managed further via antibiotics or medicated baths.
Providing a proper, well-balanced diet to your dog is about more than just cultivating good habits or making sure they stay lean. It’s also about delivering to your dog the right nutrients that ensure their body can maintain homeostasis and heal itself without putting too much stress on your dog.
However, when dogs get a diet that is too low in essential vitamins, minerals, or fatty acids, their body can begin manifesting these nutrient deficiencies in physical symptoms – such as cracked dry paws.
When a dog has a diet that is too low in zinc, for example, they’re liable to develop a condition known as exfoliative dermatoses. This condition causes scaly, sore skin that, over time, leads to dog’s paws becoming dry and cracked.
How to Treat Dry, Cracked Paws in Dogs
How you treat cracked paws in dogs ultimately depends on how serious their cracked paws are.
Your dog’s cracked paws can likely be treated with a home remedy if they’re only mildly cracked and aren’t causing your dog to limp or bleed. If you’re going to treat your dog’s cracked paws at home, make sure you follow this quick, step-by-step guide:
- Clean the dog’s paws with warm water; this will remove surface debris and draw blood flow to the surface
- Apply a gentle but potent antibacterial and antifungal petcare product like Banixx Pet Care Spray to the affected paw pads
- If the paw has incurred any injury, consider applying a thin layer of Banixx Wound Care Cream; this will help replenish the paw tissue and be a potent paw soother
- Reapply these solutions to your dog’s cracked paws daily until the cracks are gone
Sometimes, however, a dog’s cracked paws can go to the next level – that’s when there’s pause for alarm. If your dog’s paws are bleeding or if they display signs of an open wound, get them to a veterinarian ASAP. In the event you can’t get your dog to a vet, there are still some things you can do to minimize your dog’s discomfort.
First, wash the affected paws in warm water. Then, let the paw air out before covering it with a sock and securing it with a quality tape. Make sure not to apply the tape too tightly, otherwise you may cut off circulation. Now that you’ve protected your dog’s paws, go and try to schedule an appointment with a vet.
Trust us: you do not want to let your dog’s wounded paws deteriorate. Untreated wounds on a dog’s paws can become inflamed and even infected and that’s serious trouble.
How to Prevent Cracked Dog Paws
Be Vigilant for Excessive Licking or Chewing of Paws
Look, dogs are going to lick stuff. It’s just in their blood for some hilarious reason. But, if you notice that they simply cannot get enough of their own paws, then that may be a sign there’s some injury. So, it should be a regular practice to check their paws for signs of cracking, bruising, or scuffing. The sooner you can notice an issue, the better chance you have of solving it.
Groom Your Dog’s Paws Regularly
On second thought: don’t just look at your dog’s paws regularly. Get all up in there! Keep their nails clipped and regularly trim the hair between their paw pads to prevent matting. Also, check their paws after every walk for pebbles, seeds, and other small objects that might get stuck.
Moisturize Your Dog’s Paws
It’s really is crazy how much dogs are like us! They even need to moisturize to prevent painful cracks and bleeding digits! As a dog paw balm, luckily applying Banixx Wound Care Cream can help keep your dog’s paw pads soft and healthy. All you have to do is gently massage the cream in between their paw pads and then prevent them from licking it off! Easy, right?
Be Mindful of the Weather
Dogs’ feet are like tires. If it’s too hot, then it’s bad for them. If it’s too cold, it’s even worse for them. When your dog’s paws become too hot or cold, the chances for them to crack, bleed, or chap increase exponentially.
If you’re going to go for a walk with your dog during the dead of summer, try to walk during the cooler parts of the day like the morning or evening. Also, try and only walk in shaded areas or where there’s grass to walk on and completely avoid that hot pavement.
Winter is a different story. First, it’s slippery out there! You might think you can just slide your dog into a pair of booties. But, you have to remember that not every dog will wear them. Instead, just plan on checking and wiping or washing their paws after walks in the snow and ice. This will remove any debris, antifreeze or road salt.
Of course, we probably don’t have to tell you to be diligent with checking on your dog. After all, you’re clearly a pet parent who cares about the health and safety of their four-legged friend. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
But there’s always new stuff to learn, right? We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind. Go to our dog page to learn more about how to keep your dog happy and healthy! Just as an example, do you know how long your dog can go without peeing? or Why your dog drinks out of your toilet?