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Ultimate Guide to Healing Your Pet’s Cracked Paws

Cracked paws can be the result of dryness, weather, or wear and tear, and sometimes they may be an indication that something else is wrong. 

Thankfully, cracked paws are very treatable, and you can get your furry friend back to normal relatively quickly by following a few steps. 

Identifying Cracked Paws

Cracked paws will look like there are fissures or cracks on the surface of your pet’s paw pad. If you look at your pet’s paws, you will notice cracks or openings in the pads, and your pet may lick these areas more than usual which is another indication of a cracked paw. 

Cracking can result from regular everyday activities, such as walking on uneven terrain, but if the cracks become too severe they will cause your pet discomfort and will need to be taken care of. 

If you are unable to tell how severe a cracked paw is, you should take your pet to the veterinarian to get a professional opinion, because this is not a risk you want to take as your dog may end up with very painful wounds if these cracks are not properly treated. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you regarding what steps you should take to care for cracked paws, and they will be able to treat those paws in more severe cases. 

What Causes Paws to Crack?

Wear and tear is one of the most common causes of your pet’s cracked paws, and chemicals in products like floor cleaners or ice melts are common culprits for paw irritation and sensitivity. If your pet ends up with cracked paws, it does not make you a bad pet parent, and most pet owners will likely see this issue with their pet at some point since it does sometimes come as a result of very basic, regular activities.

Cracked paws can also be caused by walking on hot pavement, ice, or rocky terrain, as all of these can cause irritation or cuts in the pads of your pet’s paws. This is why you may be advised to avoid walking your dog on the pavement during the peak of summer, because the pavement can become extremely hot, causing blisters. 

Paw irritation can end up turning into cracked paws because dogs tend to lick at spots that are bothering them, and if they spend too much time licking an irritated spot on their paw, it will eventually begin to crack from the friction. 

How Can Cracked Paws Be Prevented?

There are several ways you can help prevent your pet’s paws from cracking, to begin with:

  • Keep nails sufficiently trimmed. If your dog’s nails are touching the ground as they walk, it is time for them to be trimmed. Your dog should be able to walk without their nails dragging or clicking against the ground, and if nails are too long it can cause your dog to walk with its paws splayed out, making it easier for debris to accumulate in between the pads. 

  • Do regular paw checks. Checking your pet’s paws regularly can help you spot and treat irritation before it turns into a cracked paw. Additionally, paw checks allow you to find and remove any debris, like small rocks, that may be wedged in between the pads, and removal of these will prevent damage. Wiping their paws with pet cleansing wipes can keep them clean without drying them out. Dr. Brite’s Pet Pure Cleansing Wipes are alcohol-free and sulfate-free, meaning they are gentle enough to not harm the pads of the paws but are still effective. 

  • Moisturize and massage your pet’s paws. Moisturizing and massaging your pet’s paws will help improve circulation as well as keep their paws less prone to cracking in the first place. 

  • Protect their paws in the winter and summer. Limiting the time your dog spends out in the snow or ice can prevent cracked paws by reducing the exposure of their paws to crack-inducing weather. When they come back inside, take care to wipe their paws down and check the pads for residual ice or salt, because both of these can cause cracks. 
  • If your dog loves the cold and you can’t limit the time they spend outside, consider using pet boots to protect their paws from the elements. Similarly, take care of their paws in the summer when the hot pavement has the potential to damage their pads. If the pavement is too hot for you to keep the palm of your hand on it for five seconds, it is too hot for your dog to walk on. 

    How Do I Properly Care for Cracked Paws?

    If your pet already has cracked paws, they are, most often, treatable at home. If you spot your dog excessively licking or chewing their paws, you should do a paw check and investigate the problem.

    Gently wash their paws with warm water and a gentle soap to help clean their paws and clear debris. Castile soap is a good option for this step because it contains natural oils that will clean your pet’s paws while still keeping them moisturized and soft. 

    Dr. Brite’s Citrus Castile Soap has a refreshing natural fragrance but none of the toxic chemicals that are found in other options. It is also antimicrobial and does not leave behind a greasy residue. 

    If you do a paw check and discover that your pet does have cracked paws, you should take care to gently clean the wounded area in order to clean off any irritants. You can use warm soapy water or your trusty Pet Pure Cleansing Wipes to clean the affected area.

    After you clean off the cracked paws, follow up with a moisturizer to soothe and protect the area, and cover the wounds to keep them from worsening by protecting them. You can use household petroleum jelly to treat the wounds after washing them, and bandages or socks will help your pet walk more comfortably while their paws are healing. There are also many paw-specific balms and salves available that are made with natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize. 

    If you notice that your pet’s cracked paws don’t seem to be healing, you should take your furry friend to the vet to have everything checked on. Sometimes, cracked paws are an indication of dermatologic conditions or liver conditions that impact the way wounds heal. 

    Your veterinarian will be able to have tests done to confirm whether or not something bigger is wrong, and your pet will be taken care of accordingly. Cracked paws usually are just due to weather or wear and tear, but it is never a bad idea to have a professional vet give you a proper diagnosis. 

    While your pet’s paws are healing, avoid walking them on rocky or otherwise rough terrain, as this can cause more strain or discomfort. Limit the time they spend in very cold or icy conditions, and check on the affected areas regularly to make sure everything is looking good. 

    Making pet paw care as regular a part of your routine as grooming or exercise is also a good idea because your pet’s paws are a huge part of the rest of their wellbeing. If your pet’s paws are uncomfortable, they will not be able to exercise or play without experiencing pain. Good pet paw care habits can help keep them happy and healthy.

    Takeaway

    Hot pavement, ice and snow, or general wear and tear can all lead to your pet experiencing cracked paws that require your attention and care, especially in the case of working dogs and sport dogs. 

    In general, any kind of irritation to your pet’s paws can ultimately cause cracks, because dogs tend to excessively lick or chew at things that are bothering them, and this excessive licking can cause paws to crack over time. 

    By doing regular paw checks and keeping your pet’s paws well-groomed by trimming their nails appropriately, you can help prevent them from ending up with cracked and bothersome paws. Take care to clean their paws after they have been outside on rocky terrain or in snowy weather, and clear away any debris or irritants that you find in between the pads of their paws. 

    Cracked paws can be treated with a good cleaning and a moisturizer like petroleum jelly, and bandages or socks will keep your pet feeling comfortable while walking as their wounds heal. 

    Cracked paws that do not seem to be healing at all are a sign that a visit to the vet may be necessary in case there is a bigger health condition present, but generally, cracked paws are highly treatable. 

    For more tips and info on taking care of your furry friend, check out Dr. Brite’s blog for guides and How-To’s for every pet parent!

    Sources:

    https://petcentral.chewy.com/solutions-for-caring-for-cracked-dog-paw/

    https://www.ovrs.com/blog/cracked-paws/#:~:text=Healing%20Cracked%20Paws,the%20result%20of%20winter%20weather.

    https://vetericyn.com/blog/how-to-treat-and-prevent-cracked-dog-paws/

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