Does your dog suffer from cracked paws? This is a relatively common condition where the foot pads on a dog become dry and cracked. This condition can happen in either summer or winter, although it’s more common in the winter when dogs walk on snow, ice, and frozen pavement. During the warmer months, dogs can develop cracked paws due to exposure to lawn products and fertilizers as well as chemicals used on indoor flooring. A less common cause of cracked paw pads is zinc deficiency which can be detected through a blood test performed by your veterinarian. Other medical conditions which can cause cracked paws include yeast infections involving the food pads and autoimmune diseases.
Although cracked paw pads are not always painful to your dog, if left untreated they can become inflamed and secondarily infected. If you notice marked redness or bleeding, bandage up the affected paws and see your veterinarian. Otherwise, you can probably treat this condition at home by taking some simple steps. If the cracking fails to heal after taking these measures, your dog may need veterinary evaluation to rule out other medical conditions such as a yeast infection or underlying autoimmune problem. Here are some tips for treating cracked paw pads:
Limit Your Dog’s Exposure to Potential Triggers
If your dog has sensitive paws, which is not uncommon in older dogs, consider purchasing doggie boots for use during the winter months when your dog is exposed to frozen pavement and ice. Reevaluate the products you use to clean your floors and see if you can substitute a gentler, organic product from a natural food market. Limit your dog’s exposure to lawn chemicals and ice melting products placed on sidewalks in the winter which can trigger cracking. If you use salt to melt ice in your driveway, don’t allow your dog to walk in that area without boots. Can you imagine how it feels to have salt applied to cracked paw pads?
Consider Your Dog’s Nutritional Status
As previously mentioned, zinc deficiency can cause dryness and cracking of the paw pads. To be sure this isn’t the cause, have your vet check your dog’s zinc levels. One possible nutritional approach to this problem is to add omega-3’s to your dog’s diet. One of the best ways to do this is to simply add fish oils directly to your dog’s food. To avoid problems with diarrhea, add small amounts initially and gradually increase the dose as tolerated. You may also notice that other skin and coat conditions respond favorably to this treatment.
Don’t allow your dog to bite or nibble at his cracked pads as this can exacerbate the problem and could lead to secondary infection. The best way to prevent this behavior is to soothe the area by applying Vaseline to the cracked paw pads several times a day. This can help with the healing process also. You may also want to apply a protective bootie to keep the area out of reach of your dog’s tongue and teeth.
Most cases of cracked paw pads will respond to home treatment. If the condition fails to resolve within a few weeks, be sure to have your dog evaluated by his veterinarian.