What causes cracked paw pads in dogs?

April 13, 2012

Have you ever thought what kind of punishing treatment a dog’s paw pads receive every day? Dogs have leather-like paw pads that can weather normal wear and tear. Paw pads are consistently subjected to trauma when they come in contact with hot pavement, with hot asphalt and with snow and freezing ice. Dogs though are highly active animals. While walking and running, accidents that can injure the paw pads can happen. The bleeding and the infection that can set in would create discomfort because paw pads bear the weight of the dog. This foot part that bears the weight of the dog is susceptible to a condition known as cracked paw pads. Cracked pads are common complaints of owners of dogs with an active outdoor lifestyle. Commonly, the cracked pad can be easily treated so that the active lifestyle of the pet is not affected. However, infected paw pads would be challenging to heal as aside from bearing the dog’s weight, the dog will consistently lick and bit the affected pads in an effort to alleviate the pain and the discomfort it is feeling.

There are several reasons why dogs would have this disorder. As mentioned, dogs are very active animals. Cracked paws can result from excessive wear and tear when the dog runs in rough surfaces. A dog that spends a lot of time running or walking in ice salts can develop dry and cracked paw pads too. Cracked pads can result from contact irritation. Dogs would keep on biting body parts that get in contact with environmental irritants such as fertilizers and garden sprays, floor and carpet cleaners, chemicals on the street the dog may have walked. The near-constant worrying of the feet would cause the pads to crack. Dogs, similar to humans can suffer sensitivity to substances. Allergies to food, to allergens in the environment, to soaps, shampoos and other grooming substances can cause severe itching to all parts of the body. Paw pads that are persistently chewed will crack.

Poor quality commercial dog food would be inexpensive but most would not contain the desired level of nutrients needed by the pet. The poor condition of the paw pads can be caused by the diet’s zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency is not a very common cause of cracked paw pads. Affected dogs are noticed to be less active. These dogs would lose weight and would shed excessively. Zinc deficiency that causes dry cracked pads is prevalent in some breeds like the Samoyed, GSD, Great Dane, Beagles, Pointers and Siberian Huskies. The cracking of the paw pads is common in ageing dogs. Nasodigital hyperkeratosis, a condition that affects the nose and the paw pads can develop because of the excessive production of keratin. This condition is characterized by the excessive growth of the rough and fibrous outer covering of the pads. Pemphigus, an autoimmune disease of the skin causes pus filled sores on the ears, bridge of nose and on the foot pads. Cracks will develop when the sores on the foot pads break.

Treatment for cracked pads would depend on the cause of the condition. The cracked pads can be softened by soaking the dog’s feet in warm water and applying Vaseline or petroleum jelly every day. Neosporin can be used on the dog’s paws to prevent infection. Other commercially prepared paw rubs can be used to moisten and soften the pads. Cut paw pads are slow to heal because the dog cannot be prevented from using the injured foot. Bandaging the injured foot would prevent infection and would allow the dog to use the foot more comfortably. Cracked paw pads can get infected if constantly worried by the pet. A protective doggie bootie or an E-collar will prevent the dog from constantly licking and biting the cracked paw pads.

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