Your dog’s paws are made to be resilient to harsh conditions, and they do a great job of protecting them. But they’re still subject to issues like dry patches and blisters. If your dog’s paws are rough, it usually has to do with the weather or the environment ― sometimes both! Extreme cold or heat, rough ground coverings, are examples of recipes for blistered paws.
Your dog’s paws
The bottom of a dog’s paw should be sturdy and smooth, not blistered, torn, or cracked. Regular grooming and maintenance keeps their paws durable, keeping them protected from potential injuries. Dogs spend most of their time on their paws, walking and running and fetching, and the pads also provide insulation for your dog’s feet. They provide traction, help with balance, slowing down, and stopping. They also act as shock absorbers for the joints and bones of the dog’s feet and legs. In other words, it’s very important to make sure they’re healthy and well taken care of.
There are certain signs to keep an eye out for when it comes to your dog’s paws. Dry or cracked pads, red and inflamed areas, loose flaps of skin, torn nails, sometimes limping. If your dog is licking their paws excessively, this could also be a sign of something wrong. Catch these signs early, and you can prevent it from becoming more serious. Bleeding, cysts and growths, foul smells and blisters ― don’t let it get that far. The best option, of course, is to check your dog’s paws regularly, and make sure the pads stay nice and smooth.
There are many things that could cause issues with your dog’s paws. In winter, sidewalks and cement often have a salted surface, which can be harmful to your dog’s paws and health. Aside from the salt being very harsh on their pads, causing irritation and lesions, the chemical in the cement salt can damage their digestive system. Which might happen if your dog starts licking its paws excessively ― which in turn is a sign you should keep an eye out for.
Heat can be just as bad as cold. Hot pavement can leave your dog’s paws dry and cracked, even painful. The air becomes more arid, which can dry out the dog’s skin and pads, just like it affects human skin. Regardless of season and weather, it’s best to keep your dog’s paws protected, or at the very least wash them off after being outside.
It’s not just weather than can affect your dog’s paws. Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies, or get fungal or bacterial infections. If this is the case, the paws may become very itchy, and the dog will lick and chew at them to make it stop. This, in turn, can worsen the condition, since it irritates the skin further, and provides a nice, moist growing ground for more bacteria. If you’re unsure of what’s causing this behavior from your dog, it’s best to check with a vet, since it could be due to a number of reasons.
Protect their paws
Avoiding hot pavement, cleaning off salt chemicals in winter, keeping an eye on potential infections ― all important parts of pet care. The nails are also an important part; keep them trimmed to avoid having them crack and break. A rule of thumb is that if the nails on your dog’s paws are touching the ground when walking, they’re too long, so make sure to keep up a good trimming habit.
Grooming your dog regularly, especially if they’ve gotten into some trash or questionable mud, is key to the health of your dog’s paws, skin, and coat. You don’t want to clean your dog too much, though. Their body still needs to produce its natural oils. If your dog’s paws are dry or cracked, there are several types of moisturizers you can use, but natural options work just as well. Dogs that lick are especially prone to ingesting harmful chemicals, so keep that in mind. You can use things like coconut oil, shea butter, grapeseed/almond/flaxseed oil, to keep your dog’s paws nice and smooth, and free from cracks and pain.