Have you noticed that your dog’s paws have dry and cracked pads? Dog’s feet are constantly exposed to the ground- dirt, rocks, pavement, sand and, for indoor dogs, interior surfaces and air conditioning. Sometimes harsh terrain can cause cuts and scrapes on the bottom of paws and sometimes the modern dog lifestyle of bouncing between hot and cold, soft and hard surfaces can cause scaly or cracked paws. There are several remedies you can take to repair cracked paws and preventative measures you can use to prevent the problem in the future:
If your dog’s paws are bleeding or inflamed you should bandaged the paws and limit your dog’s activity. If there seems to be a significant infection you should see your vet, but for minor inflammation you can apply a triple-action antibiotic cream and bandage the foot. The easiest bandage to use is a child’s sock and a dog boot. If you do not have a dog boot available you can use vetwrap or duct tape over the sock until you can get a boot.
How to Bandage a Paw
Wrapping a dog’s foot with a wrap can be very uncomfortable, as wound layers don’t accommodate for the unique shape of a paw the way a boot does. If you don’t have dog boots, follow these steps to wrap the cracked paw:
1. Pull a small sock over the paw (in a pinch, a soft cloth cut to a “+” shape can be used temporarily)
2. Using Vetwrap or duct tape wrap around the sock near the top of the sock- so you are applying pressure to the leg, not around the paw. Do Not apply tape to fur! But use over the sock. Pressure should be even around the leg and firm but not tight.
3. Rip off a few squares of duct tape and place them on the sock over the pads of the paw. This will help keep the paw dry and keep any medications from soaking through the sock and being rubbed off.
Can we still go for walks?
If your dog doesn’t seem to hurt from the cracked paw then you should continue your routine of walks and training as normal. Just be sure the cracked pad on the injured paw stays clean. You should apply an treatment such as Corona Ointment to the paw once or twice a day to help the cracked pad heal. Be
careful- don’t apply the ointment too often after the cracked pad heals or what should be a tough, protective piece of skin can become soft, tender and vulnerable to more problems. Apply paw ointment once or twice a week, once the cracked pad has healed.
In winter conditions where your dog may be walking on salted concrete you should be extra careful about cracked pads. Boots are best for winter conditions, as dogs who develop cracked pads from Snow-Melt may ingest dangerous chemicals. Dogs with badly cracked pads should not walk on snow or ice in winter AT ALL without protective dog boots or protection- as the salt from sidewalks or roads can be agony in a deep crack.