What To Do When Your Dog Has Cracked Paw Pads

About a month ago, I noticed slight cracks in the front paw pads of our new rescue dog, Scooby. After consulting with Windansea Veterinary Clinic over the phone, we decided to monitor his paws because he wasn’t bothered by them. However, one paw started to bleed. Scooby has a very high threshold for pain (he lives with a 4-year-old), but this hurt. Here is some helpful paw information and the advice we were given for this common problem.

Interesting Facts About Paw Pads

  • They help dogs absorb shock, which spares their joints from too much pressure.
  • Dogs sweat through their paw pads, which is why bandages may not stick or will need to be changed often.
  • Some dogs have overly sensitive paw pads. Booties may be a necessity, and not just a fashion accessory.
  • If you use harsh chemicals to keep your flooring clean, this may be affecting your dogs paws. Use mild detergents and remember that your dog is licking whatever cleaners you’re using off his or her paw pads.
  • Excessive paw licking can be linked to a pH imbalance, resulting from not enough meat in his or her dog food.
  • A zinc deficiency may lead to cracked paw pads. Fish oil may be prescribed by your vet.

How Dogs Get Cracked Paw Pads

We have a large concrete patio that Scooby plays on. He slides to a stop when he catches balls, which isn’t doing wonders for his paw pads. We also have a side yard where there’s a lot of rough bark and he likes to do his business there.  I run and walk him on concrete and asphalt, as not every street in our neighborhood has a sidewalk. Basically, the vet thinks that his paws are adjusting to his new life.  He spent a lot of time in kennels before we adopted him and his pads are softer than they should be for a dog his age.

Dogs living in colder climates are especially susceptible to cracked paw pads. Snow can refreeze between their toes and the salt on the ground can be particularly aggravating. When spring arrives, these dogs are outside after being inside most of the winter. Their paw pads can have trouble adjusting, especially if they will be hiking in the mountains or going for long runs.

It’s kind of like how the heel of your foot might crack based on change of seasons, lack of care, or whatever.

Dealing With Mildly Cracked Paw Pads

At first, we were told by our vet that if he is walking normally and the paw pads are not bleeding, to continue as normal. Paw pads heal quickly so the cracks could disappear on their own. Watch to make sure that your dog isn’t licking the pads excessively as they need to be kept dry and clean.

If The Pads Start To Bleed

  • Clean the blood off.
  • Apply something that can be used as a dog paw balm like Vaseline or Bag Balm.
  • Put a sock over the cracked paw. If using tape to secure if, tape over the ankle and not the foot. The latter will cause the dog to limp more.
  • Check pads daily. It’s important that even if there aren’t problems, your dog becomes comfortable with you fiddling around with their feet.
  • Rest until they are healed.

Try Dog Paw Balms

I went to CVS and bought some Bag Balm for $10 in the skincare aisle. It’s an old remedy that farmers use on cow udders. It’s also done wonders for my feet. However, you don’t want to continuously Bag Balm your dog’s paws unless your dog has dry dog paws. Soft paws are not a benefit – they need to be tough! While there are a number of alternatives, Bag Balm really works for my dog.

I also bought Paw Tectors booties because he was wearing through our socks too quickly between doing his business outside and his nails (though clipped). He hates them, but they seem to work for very short periods of time. I do grow tired of putting them back on multiple times per outside adventure.

If None Of The Above Work

You can have the cracked paw wrapped by the vet. The downside is that you won’t be able to periodically check it. Our vet would have given us a bootie for when he needed to go outside to go the bathroom. I made an appointment to do this after being frustrated by the sock falling off.  Once we got to the vet, she decided the cracked paw pad had healed enough on it’s own. We were sent home and prescribed another week of rest.

See also: Essential Gear for Big (Sensitive) Rescue Dogs


Windansea Veterinary Clinic
Dog Topics

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  1. January 14, 2016 at 9:49 am — Reply

    If The Pads Start To Bleed, Apply something that can be used as a dog paw balm like Vaseline??!!

    Do you have any idea what vaseline is?

  2. Liz
    August 30, 2015 at 9:45 am — Reply

    My poor dog has had trouble with cracked paw pads for a long time and she’s allergic to EVERYTHING with chemicals. I use Walter’s Dog Balm (we can only use natural dog products for the allergies and such)
    It works really well. I love paw creams for dogs:)

    here’s the dog balm I use: http://www.dogbalm.com

  3. Christelle Giroux Schwehr
    February 26, 2015 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    Thank you

  4. February 24, 2015 at 7:54 pm — Reply

    This was very helpful thank you.

  5. October 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm — Reply

    Visit my website. Natural solutions for DRY, Cracked Paws & Noses. Based on emu oil. No petroleum-derived ingredients now or ever!

    Faith Chipman

  6. April 29, 2013 at 10:11 am — Reply

    Visit http://www.pawsucreme.com/ to find out about all natural solutions and feel good about using your paw balm on your dog.

  7. April 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    I agree that Vaseline can seal the paw cracks but it is a Petroleum-derived product. Be careful of paw pad products that contain petroleum derived products. Dogs lick. Mineral oil, Paraffin wax and Petrolatum are common ingredients in paw pad balms and they are ALL derived during the production of petroleum.
    An easy check on your labels before purchasing. Be wary of dog products that do not list ingredients on their products or partial listing of ingredients. What are they hiding??

    I have variously seen paraffin, petrolatum, rosin, limonene, fuller’s earth and 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate listed in well known paw balms. That’s why I stick with All Natural solutions!

    As a professional dog groomer and owner of my own dog spa I see many dogs with cracked paw pads. Those very severe cases usually are a result of low grade dog food and hence Zinc defiency…(fillers with corn, soy, etc.) A natural source for ZINC is sunflower seed oil and EMU oil!! 🙂 Thank goodness!

    • Norma Howarth
      May 5, 2013 at 3:55 am — Reply

      Thanks for the tip, our new addition is also adopted and she is 9 months old, shes a cross between pitbull and English staffie. After seeing the photo of Scoobies I notice they are of similar breed and wonder if it’s not something in the breed as I have had many dogs and never had this problem. Thought I should mention this. Regards Norma

      • Xandra
        December 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm — Reply

        My pitbull has paw problems, too. His paws get cracked and wound around the pawpad, and he has “feathers” growing out of the pads themselves. It is like very thick hair. The official name for this is Keratinosis, I believe but I can’t find much info on how to treat or cure it. Any ideas?

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