When any pet owner underestimates the importance of a dog’s paw pads, they need to look no further than their own heels for comparison. As humans, walking is just one of our means of transportation, given that we have the ability to choose cars, bikes, and everything in between to get from point A to point B. Canines simply do not have this luxury, and as such, their feet pay a heavy price. Our heels offer a window into how much stress a dog’s paws incur on a regular basis. When you and I go for a walk, stress is placed near the rear of the foot for balance and control. Over time this causes the skin to deteriorate, because new cells are not being produced at a rate fast enough to handle the excessive workload. When the skin breaks down, it cracks and flakes due to dryness and the absence of moisture. The same effect is true for an animal’s feet, but the situation is far more dire in that it is their only means to travel. But what causes pads to crack and become damaged?
The Importance Of The Paw
The paws on a dog are remarkable in that they can withstand all kinds of punishment and still sarge on most of the time. That said, there comes a point where typical grooming can no longer compensate for their loss of ability due to cracking. The connecting tissue in a pad is packed full of essential parts for the healthy function of a canine’s body. This includes skin, ligaments, tendons, and bone, all of which are of paramount importance to your pet’s well being. Each serve as a cog in the system to maximize weight absorption and not change the efficiency of the joints.
When we see an animal trot by, we obviously do not think of them in terms of anatomy, but the effort paws put forth with every step cannot be underestimated. Pads, at their core, provide traction, but their impact is far more reaching in that they can even be an indicator to potential (or present) health problems. The covering on their feet is a method of protection first and foremost, so it goes without saying that if they are damaged or dry this limits their ability to perform this function flawlessly. Walking, climbing and running are all made possible when the surfaces are healthy and operating as they should. However, over time, infected paws may render your pup completely unable to move.
Another point of contention with pads as they pertain to your furry friend is their susceptibility to temperature. It is almost an afterthought how sensitive our feet are, since we are wearing socks and shoes more often than not. Dogs, obviously, do not partake in these fashion accessories, and as a result, rely on the tissue being healthy more than we do. Heat and cold are also worthwhile talking points for strong, beautiful pads because besides rough terrain, they are what cause the most damage, and eventually, pain.
What Makes A Paw Dry?
There are a plethora of ways your pooch can obtain dry paws, and this typically begins with unforgiving areas that they frequent. This includes substances like sand, gravel, and pavement, especially when it is scorching. It is a common misstep as a pet owner to conclude that only places with high temperatures will remove moisture, but this is completely untrue. The fact of the matter is in some ways extremely cold ground can be far worse because it exacerbates the problem. For example, ice and snow ‘cuts,’ in that it slices the thin outer layer of a dog’s pad. Even though paws are very resistant, that does not mean they are even close to being invincible.
Exposure in general is fine as long as it is not for long periods of time. On hot days, plenty of shade can be the perfect oasis for an animal just needing a break for their paws. Most dogs do not mind the cold, but just remember that the longer tissue is in contact with chilly conditions, the more painful a damaged pad will be. Sensitivity skyrockets, and eventually you will find yourself behind the 8 ball in reference to treatment.
What Do Cracked Paws Mean?
It goes without saying that a cracked paw will disrupt a pup’s lifestyle, but in what ways? The reason why veterinarians are so cautious on this issue is because it almost always leads to more problematic issues down the line. Cracked paws are an open invitation for infection to flourish. Remember, when a pad has been compromised, the nourishment it needs from proteins and fresh cell growth cannot keep up with the rate at which foreign agents can spread in a wound. This is why if you get a cut on your arm, for example, and treat it rapidly with an appropriate healing cream, it will dissipate far more quickly. Upon application of the treatment, you are eradicating the infection, or at the very least, containing its spread.
Of course the first noticeable event that will take place if your dog has damaged paws are changes in their demeanor or lifestyle. They may move around much less, or be more hesitant when going for a walk or jog. A good rule of thumb to have at the forefront of your mind to know if your pet’s paws are cracked is if they are grooming them more frequently than usual. Dogs are tremendous problem solvers, and will continually administer moisture to infected areas to the best of their ability. Even though they don’t have the wherewithal or means to provide foolproof care, they will give themselves temporary relief when necessary. This is where the responsibility of the owner must come into play, realizing what is taking place and coming to terms with the fact that a dog’s saliva is no substitute for a real, fast-acting balm.
If your companion does not come into contact with surfaces that are harmful, or perhaps is never exposed to the elements outdoors, there is a high probability something else troublesome is going on. Dry paws can be a red flag that your pooch has an autoimmune disorder, or at the very least, allergies. Endocrine issues may also be in the mix, so it is prudent to make sure their nutritional needs are met.
Hyperkeratosis is the condition that is most commonly attributed to unhealthy paws. It is an occurrence where the keratin an animal’s body is creating is being made in excess, which render pads full of rough, dried skin. Hyperkeratosis hardens the exterior of the foot to the point that mobility becomes limited. If you are aware of blisters being present, pemphigus might be the culprit. This condition is one in which the function of cells is altered and can morph into a disease that moves to the ears and and nose as well.
For those who are in the group of being unable to pinpoint what precisely is causing your dog’s pads to deteriorate, always start with how they are eating and the surfaces they most frequent. For example, beyond offering a healthy diet that will routinely replenish the nutrients a pooch needs, you may need to change your dog dish. Some animals are allergic to plastic, or are similarly coming into contact with something that is adversely affecting how their body is healing wounds. Moreover, it bears mentioning that some cracked paws are a result of kitchen cleaners and mop solutions that have made an infection worse or started one as an irritant. When possible, use pet-friendly mixtures that will not bother the membrane on their feet.
Prevention Of Cracked Paws
Damaged pads can only be fully prevented with a balm that offers 24/7 protection, but there are some measures you can take in the meantime to lower the risk altogether. For starters, trimming nails is a highly recommended action that can make a huge difference in the health of their pads. Long nails cause animals to alter the way they walk by spreading their pads out further. This added space is unnatural, and allows for more cuts and bruising. Another efficient practice is to groom the fur around and between each paw. When pads are cracked and dried out, the friction of hair on the skin will make the situation worse. A canine’s foot path should always be unencumbered. Not only will this ward off infection, it eases discomfort as well.
If your companion has especially sensitive skin due to its breed type or preexisting medical conditions, covering their feet with booties is an appropriate method. This can cause some irritation over time, but is still more advisable than having the pads exposed to the dangers of the elements.
Things To Avoid If Damaged Paws Are Already Present
You have undoubtedly heard the expression ‘salt in the wound,’ and never is this more true than for pets if they currently have dry skin. In the wintertime, salts and de-icing chemicals will swiftly cause your companion to moan in discomfort should they have the unfortunate incident of experiencing them. Additionally, steer clear of rugged terrain, and even wet surfaces if at all possible. Rain or slick areas may seem harmless, but excessive moisture softens tissue, meaning it is easier to procure cuts. In moderation, dogs can handle almost every type of environment, but a routine checkup of their mode of transportation is prudent. Should they already be showcasing bloody or irritated paws, soak them gently in the bathtub and dab them with a wet cloth.
As owners, when we witness our loved ones struggling it is hard to resist the temptation to provide the closest relief option possible. Over the counter choices like petroleum jelly and Neosporin sound good in theory, but they will fast track digestive issues and induce nausea. It is better to make an informed decision as opposed to just ‘trying things out’ with household items.
Should I Contact A Veterinarian?
It would be foolish to make a blanket statement that every possible instance in treating cracked paws can be accomplished at home, but the reality is you are more than capable of offering high quality relief without bringing a professional into the mix. Veterinarians are terrific to keep in your back pocket should things go south, but only really need to be contacted if you have taken all the listed recommendations and have seen no improvement.
The time to consult an expert immediately is when eating habits change almost instantly, and/or movement is too painful for your pup. In the bulk of instances, however, just 24 hours of treatment will notify you whether or not your home care has been successful. If mineral deficiency is behind your problems, try a different brand of dog food, preferably ones using natural, supreme quality ingredients. Less reputable brands utilize cheaper byproducts during manufacturing, which places less emphasis on healthy living and more on being cost effective for consumers.
Vitamins play a vital role in a dog’s paws being restored to their peak performance. In particular, A, E, and F provide the soothing capacity and effortless regenerative process that heals hurt pads in record time. Paws and Snout Premium Balm is a mixture that incorporates only the safest components to guarantee nourishment and relief. The addition of shea butter cools and moisturizes each pad in minutes, and the balm itself encapsulates the paws so cracking and bleeding cannot occur.
Moreover, Paws and Snout Premium performs in every type of situation, be it hot or cold, wet or dry. It is a year long treatment that never waivers in its seamless transition from damaged paws back to strong, healthy pads. No matter how sensitive the dog, its anti-inflammatory properties shine, and the mixture itself is completely harmless and can be licked and ingested with zero side effects. The balm distributes comfort and protection 365 days a year by reducing and eliminating wounds entirely.