Are your pet's paws rough, dry, cracked, and bleeding? Taking care of your dog's pup pads may seem like an intimidating task. Their paw pads are essentially built-in shoes: strong, durable, and shock-resistant.

A sudden deterioration may catch you by surprise and demand urgent attention. So whether you're dealing with this problem today or looking for tips to avoid it in the future, you're on the right track to getting your Fido back on his feet.

Dog Paw Anatomy

Cracked Dog Paws

First of all, it may be useful to understand the purpose of your pup's adorable paw pads.

The digital (toe) pads and metacarpal (large) pads work very hard as shock absorption to protect your dog's joints. The carpal pad, the small back one, has a few tasks: it is non-slip, it operates like a break, and the pad helps your dog navigate and slow down on slopes. Paw pads protect your dog's feet from extreme temperatures. This is possible because of the thick fatty, insulating tissue. 

Paw pads adjust to their terrain. Pets who remain indoors will have soft and delicate paws. In contrast, furbabies that are out and about will have paw pads that toughen to tolerate rough ground. Though tenacious, the paws are vulnerable to injury. Knowing what to look out for and how to pamper their paws will lessen the chances of damage. 

Signs of Cracked Dog Paws

There are behavioral and physical symptoms that accompany dry, cracked paws. Here are a few things to look out for:

Excessive Paw Licking

When a dog or cat incessantly licks their paw pads or gnaws on parts of their body, it is a clear sign that something is amiss. Pets do this to remove debris or to clean themselves, but when it becomes compulsive, then it's time to take a look at your dog's feet. Dogs lick their paws when they are in pain or if an itch or irritation is bothering them. 

Limping 

Dog's don't hide their pain like cats do. There are many reasons why your dog may be limping – injury in the joints being the leading cause. If their paws are cracked and bleeding, then a limp is a very natural reaction. 

Cuts on the Paws

Sit with your fur child and gently have a look at their paw pads. Lines and gentle creases are normal, but you need to immediately tend to signs of blood, deep cuts, fissures, swelling, or infection.

Dry and Itchy Feet

Paw care starts by taking care of any dryness on Fido's paw pads. Sweat glands are present in your dog's feet and provide moisture to the pads. Several things will strip the feet of their protective sweat.

Air conditioners, allergies, harsh chemicals, exposure to extreme temperatures, and excessive licking can cause damage. If you ignore dry paws, you might have to deal with painful, cracked paw pads later.

Causes of Dog Paw Cracks

Dog Paw Cracks

It's a dog's life. Not everything is peachy, and we all experience wear and tear on our bodies. Your dog included. Much like skincare, a healthy diet, and good grooming habits, paw care is an integral part of keeping your pup healthy, happy, and loving life with you. 

By recognizing the things that can cause harm to your dog's feet, you can take a little more care to avoid them. Some of these triggers may be an easy fix, while others may require some medical attention. 

Allergies

Allergies – if only we could get rid of them. Allergies are common in dogs and can manifest in many ways. Environmental irritants, food, or even insect bites cause allergic reactions on your dog's paw pad. Rashes, inflammation, redness, and dark pigmentation on the paw pad may indicate an allergic reaction. 

Creepy Crawlies

Ticks, mites, and parasites can irritate the pads and skin on your dog's paws. The presence of mites can cause bacterial skin infections on the feet, which can be painful. Licking is a normal reaction, once again making the pads vulnerable to dryness, cuts, and cracks.

Burns

Love going for a run on a hot afternoon? Your dog may not. Hot pavement or furnace-like asphalt can burn your puppy dog's paws.

The best way to check if the asphalt isn't too scorching for your dog's feet is to perform the seven-second test. Hold the back of your hand on the road. If you can keep it there for a minimum of seven seconds, then it's safe for your dog's feet.

Undiluted cleaning products or chemicals can also cause burns. Chemicals on your lawn, farmlands, carpet cleaners, etc., can all strip your dog's paws of their protective moisture. Burnt dog paws may become red, cracked, blistered, callused, or start to peel. 

Snow and Ice Melt Chemicals

Dog Paw Care

Yes, the heat can be damaging, but so can cold weather. Frostbite can affect your dog's paws if they're out and about in the snow and ice. Harsh chemicals used to melt ice are damaging on your pet's feet and can cause infection, contact irritation, and blistering.

Salt products on pavements and roads can dry out your dog's paws. While their feet may seem okay, regular exposure to extreme weather conditions can be damaging and lead to dry and eventually cracked paws. 

A Lacking Diet

A wholesome diet does more than fill your pup's stomach. A good meal provides vitamins and minerals that ensure wholesome and holistic care from head to toe. Essential fatty acids are vital for healthy skin and coat. Select a diet that provides enough fat and moisture from the inside out. 

Large breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Danes, commonly experience a zinc deficiency. This contributes to Exfoliative Dermatoses, a skin disorder causing scaly, sore skin.

Paws may become dry and cracked as a result. Avoid a zinc deficiency by giving your dog the best food. Speak to your veterinarian and make sure to provide your dog with a wholesome and nutrient-filled meal. 

Health Issues

Some health issues will affect your dog's skin, including their paw pads. Footpad Hyperkeratosis is an immune disease that causes deep fissures on dog paw pads. The condition causes pathological thickening of the paw epidermis, making it prone to cracking and dehydration. Typically, all footpads are affected, and a vet can diagnose it at a young age. 

Liver disease can cause cracked and calloused paws in dogs. Other liver disease symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in stool color, weight loss, increased thirst, and urination.

Pemphigus in dogs is an auto-immune disease of the skin. Antibodies are produced and work to attack healthy cells and tissues as if they were a disease. One of the symptoms is footpad overgrowth and cracking.

If other symptoms accompany cracked dog paws, then you may want to consider a visit to the veterinarian. Blood or urine tests can identify any health problems. 

How To Treat Cracked Dog Paws

Treating Cracked Dog Paws

Treating a dog's cracked paws will differ depending on the seriousness of the issue.

It may be best to take your pet to the vet for severe injuries or cracked paw pads that are bleeding and infected. Your family vet will be able to treat any injuries, provide antibiotics if necessary, and recognize any sign of serious illness.

Your vet can prescribe pain medication or drugs for secondary infections. If allergies cause your dog's problems, your veterinarian may recommend a cream or balm that contains hydrocortisone. 

Home first aid kits are useful if you're dealing with a minor cut or crack. Clean the wound with mild, dog-friendly soap, and warm water. Before dressing the wound, apply an antibiotic balm. You can get your dog a cone or cover their foot with a dog boot to prevent them from licking and removing bandages. 

For dry paw pads, invest in a paw balm. The Animal Humane Society even suggests paraffin wax products like Vaseline to moisturize and provide a protective barrier for your dog's paws. However, waxes don't usually contain antibacterial properties. On the other hand, balms made with coconut oil, hemp seed oil, shea butter, include the added antiseptic properties that fight infection.

Six Tips For Preventing Cracked Paw Pads In Dogs

Your dog's feet are in good health, and you want to keep it that way. Here are our top tips that can help prevent cracking paws in your dog:

1. Practice Good Hygiene Habits

Protect your dog from painful, dry, cracked paws. Good hygiene habits can start with the simple habit of wiping their paws down with warm water after outdoor adventures. General grooming habits, such as trimming their nails, hair and checking for thorns, burrs, and twigs, can also preempt irritations that can cause them to lick and dry their paw pad. 

2. Buy Some Dog Booties

You've always wanted to see your hip hound in sneakers. Well, now is your chance. Not only will your dog be the coolest on the block, but booties will protect his paws from unpredictable cuts and injuries. Dog boots will also assist the healing process by covering paw pads recovering from an infection. 

3. Consider the Weather

Protection from the elements is something we do for ourselves, so don't forget shielding for your dog when the weather is a little crazy. Extreme temperatures can do significant damage to delicate pads.

Dog boots are readily available online in many different styles and prevent paw pad burns from hot pavements or ice surfaces. When the weather keeps you homebound, find a way to stimulate your dog indoors.

4. Steer Clear of Harmful Chemicals

Contact irritation with toxic chemicals is a slippery slope to dry, cracked paws. Why not look into some natural detergents for your home. It will be better for you, your dog, and the environment. 

5. Keep that paw balm nearby

If you notice any sign of fissures or dryness on your dog's precious paws, reach for the paw balm immediately. The soothing oils in paw balms will nourish and moisturize your dog's paw pads. Many paw balms, such as the Honest Paws CBD Paw Balm, also contain a natural antibiotic to relieve skin conditions, rashes, cuts, and dry, itchy skin.

6. Change Their Diet

Fatty acids, zinc supplements, and wholesome meals should be the goal of any pet parent.

Care For Your Pet. Care For Their Paws

Caring for Dog Paws

Cracked dog paws are irritating, painful, and unsightly. Taking the time to moisturize your dog's footpads will make a world of difference and prevent the problem of cracked paws. It is possible to restore their paws to those healthy, soft, and hydrated trotters that you loved when they were a pup. 

Take care of your dog's paws. It's the best pair of shoes they'll own.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I treat my dog's cracked paws?

Treating your dog's cracked paws will differ depending on the severity of the issue. It may be best to take your pet to the vet for severe injuries or cracked paw pads that are bleeding and infected. Home first aid kits are useful if you're dealing with a minor cut or crack.

Can I put Vaseline on my dog's cracked paws?

The Animal Humane Society suggests paraffin wax products like Vaseline to moisturize and provide a protective barrier for your dog's paws. 

Can I moisturize my dog's paws?

Moisturizing your dog's paws is a good daily practice to prevent dryness and cracks. 

Can I put coconut oil on my dog's cracked paws?

Yes! Coconut oil and coconut oil balms contain antiseptic properties that fight infection. It's also a great source of fatty acid that will nourish and feed your dog's skin.