The best ways to treat cracked paw pads

Follow these tips for treating your dog’s cracked paw pads before they get worse! 

Your pups paws aren’t just cute to look at – they also serve several important functions. Paw pads act as shock absorbers to protect your dog’s bones and joints, create a barrier between his feet and dangerous elements such as ice and hot asphalt, and are essential to his balance and mobility. In addition, a dogs paw pads contain scent and sweat glands that are crucial for marking his territory. Given the significant role they play, it’s important to protect his paw pads from cracking.

Your dog’s paw pads may crack for several reasons, depending on your environment and the type of activity he engages in. Typically, paw cracks are a result of contact irritation, so paw checks after every walk are important. The earlier these injuries are detected, the faster you can help him recover. If you notice your dog’s paws pads are starting to crack, follow these helpful tips:

Minor cracks

A crack is considered minor if there’s no evidence of bleeding or limping. For mild or minor pad cracks, gently clean the area with a general antiseptic such as iodine pads or chlorhexidine. Dry thoroughly after cleaning.

There are pad balms available on the market that can be applied to moisturize the area and control infection. Minor cracks won’t prevent your dog from enjoying walks or play, provided the activity isn’t too extreme. Remember to keep checking his paws on a regular basis and re-apply moisturizer as needed until you’re confident they’ve fully healed.

Open or bleeding cracks

In most instances, open wounds are best treated by a veterinarian. If you discover dried or oozing blood from cracks on your dog’s paw pads, take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Chances are, your vet will recommend a treatment similar to that used for minor cracks. In addition, he or she can also prescribe a topical medication to address any potential infection.

Severe injuries

Badly bleeding pads, missing sections or whole pads, excessive limping, putrid smell or infection are obvious signs of a severe injury. In these cases, it’s best to get your dog to the vet immediately. Treatment for these kinds of injuries may require a cone to prevent your dog from licking away medications and doing more damage.

Seasonal tips

Winter – For dogs who live in cold climates, ice, snow, and salt can be a huge risk to paw pads. Just like human feet, pads can become too dry or too cold, which leads to cracking. Road salt can then enter these cracks and cause infection, or burn the skin. When it comes to prevention, investing in some dog boots or balm, and sticking to unsalted terrain is helpful.

Summer – Dogs living in warm climates have to deal with hot concrete, asphalt, and excessive sweat, which can also damage paw pads. Dog boots can help in these situations too, as can balm. Let him walk on the grass instead of the hot sidewalk whenever possible, and avoid walking him during the hottest, sunniest times of the day.

As seen in this blog, cracked paws can occur for a multitude of reasons. The best way to proceed is always with vigilance and caution. Don’t be afraid to call your vet or book an appointment if you feel his paws need some extra TLC!