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.

See also: Should You Really Put Your Pet’s Bowl In The Dishwasher?

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.

See also:  What It’s Like During a Dog’s TPLO Surgery Recovery

How Dogs Get Cracked Paw Pads

My dog wearing a sock over his cracked paw pad.
My dog wearing a sock over his paw

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 Cracked Paw 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

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I went to CVS and bought some Bag Balm in the skincare aisle (it now comes in portable tubes).

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 protective 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.

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

Windansea Veterinary Clinic
Dog Topics

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. 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!

    1. 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

      1. 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?

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

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

    Faith Chipman

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. “I agree that Vaseline can seal the paw cracks but it is a Petroleum-derived product.”

    So what? Vaseline is non-toxic. Just because something is a “petroleum product” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily harmful.

  7. Cracked pads are also caused by Lupus. It is very hard to diagnose. I have a 10 year Golden Retriever that has had skin problems for a couple of years now and after 3 different vets said it was a bacterial skin infection we now know that it is Lupus which also caused Megaesophagus.
    My suggestion to you is if you dogs has cracked paws on & off over a period of time ask your vet about doing a Lupus plug test. Make sure they send it to a lab that specializes in only dog lab work. Regular labs do not know what to look for. This costs about $300. YOU DON’T WANT IT TO TURN INTO MEGAESPOHAGUS!!! I am posting my email in case anyone reading this has any questions.
    lisa67shelley@yahoo.com. I will be glad to help and pass on the knowledge that I have gotten regarding this.

  8. My dog’s paws usually have cracks during the summer season and also get very dry during winter, I even stopped jogging with my dog because his paws get extremely rough and raw, www.softdogpaws.com recmmended a wax called mushers secret, they claim that this wax can protect the paws on harsh suyrfaces and also prevent the paws from cracking, I haven’t tried this wax yet but I’m thinking of giving it a try.

  9. I have a 8 month old black Labrador Retriever and I just noticed that he has a limp and it’s on his back left paw poor baby has a deep crack in it and is limping bad from it. Is there any other remedy that I can use for a quick fix until I can get paid? I would really like to know if I can use something here at home until Monday he’s in pain and will not let anyone touch his paw and has very sensitive paws so if anyone can let me know tonite then I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you 😥