About a month ago, I noticed slight cracks in the front paw pads of our new rescue dog, Scooby. After consulting with our vet 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 dog’s 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 the 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 it, 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
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 PawTectors booties because he was wearing through our socks too quickly between doing his business outside and his nails. 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 the paws to make sure they’re healing. 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 its own. We were sent home and prescribed another week of rest.