Dog with skin peeling from paw

April 13, 2012

Dogs don’t have a very efficient cooling system. Dog owners are advised against walking the dog in sweltering temperatures to prevent the pet from getting sunstroke or sunburn. However, not many dog owners realize that the pet’s paw pads can be injured too. Paw injuries are common during the summer months when the dog is allowed to walk or run on hot pavement and sand. Dogs are tough and hardy animals but apparently, the sensitive skin of the paws is no match to scorching pavement. Apart from being highly energetic, dogs are also playful animals. A dog with a sore and blistered paw will still play Frisbee and catch ball with the family on the beach all day. The owners will just be surprised to see that the peeling skin on the paw is the reason why the dog is limping.

Just like a horse, a dog walks on its paws. The thick pads of the paws provide efficient traction when the dog makes sudden turns. The paws also serve as shock absorbers when the dog runs and jumps. Unlike humans that have many kinds of sole protection, a dog would have to depend only on the toughness of the pads of the paws. Considering the active lifestyle of human’s best friend, the potential hazards for the paws are endless. A dog puts countless mileage on their paws. A dog would not be daunted with snow, with mud or with hard packed dry ground. With unprotected feet, a dog would run on these surfaces. Walking on hot pavement during the summer months would make the skin on pads of the feet dry out, crack and peel. However, snow and ice can be enemies of a dog’s feet too. Walking on snow and ice can result to frostbite. Skin of frostbitten paw will turn gray and peel. Peeling of paw skin can be caused by allergies. A dog that frequently walks on the salt and de-icers that people use on pathways, on chemicals used to clean floors, on carpet and rug shampoos can have sore and blistered pads. Broken glass, thorns and sharp rocks can cause foot injuries. Dogs are ultimate chewers; the itchy or injured paws will be chewed until they are raw. Infection can set in.

The environment of the dog would have something to do with the condition of the paws. Rough and rocky terrain, would not be kind to the paws of a dog that has the freedom to roam. The paws would take a heavy beating from these hard surfaces. Nature has allowed the formation of protection for the paws in the form of calluses. These thick dry skins form on the area that receives more pressure. Outside dogs that do a lot of running on rough surfaces would have thicker pads than dogs whose feet sink in the thickly carpeted floor of the house. Calluses are also formed as the dog gets older. Rough treatment can make the calluses crack and peel. The peeling skin on the dog’s paws can be caused by foot pad diseases. Hyperkeratosis is a disease that affects the keratin, the tough and fibrous skin that covers the foot pads. The keratin grows excessively causing the pads to crack so that peeling feather-like skin will appear around the edges of the foot pads.

If the peeling skin is causing the dog discomfort, it would be best to have the pet checked by a vet. Dogs have an amazing ability to heal themselves but it would be much better to err on the safe side. A vet’s attention will be necessary to prevent infection especially if a thick piece of skin has peeled.

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