Although a dog’s leather-like paw pads may appear to be impervious to everyday wear and tear, they can sometimes develop problems. Cracked paw pads is one problem that can prove highly frustrating because it not only interferes with your dog’s ability to walk, but can also cause him discomfort. But solving the problem can be as simple as identifying its cause. Furthermore, in most cases, cracked paw pads can be treated without the need to expose your dog to the harsh chemicals found in most commercial pet products.
Some household products can be irritating to a dog’s paw pads. Chemicals in commercial carpet and floor cleaners as well as those found in garden sprays can leave your dog’s paws irritated, as can ice melting products used on the sidewalks during wintertime. And once the irritation has developed, your dog is likely to develop an urge to chew on his paws, thus aggravating the problem.
To help your dog avoid developing cracked paw pads due to irritants, limit his exposure to these products. Use only natural, organic cleaning products around the home and in your garden. Always wash your dog’s paws after he’s been walking in the winter to remove any salt he may have picked up on his paws. If your dog has sensitive paws, which isn’t uncommon in older dogs, consider buying a pair of boots for your dog to wear when walking on hot, rough, or salty surfaces.
Inadequate levels of zinc in a dog’s diet can sometimes result in cracked and sore paw pads. Studies show that dogs absorb between only five and 40 percent of their zinc requirement from their diet, while northern breeds of dog such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky have a genetic inability to absorb adequate levels of this mineral. You can have your dog’s zinc levels checked by a veterinarian. Adding a zinc supplement to your dog’s diet can help remedy this problem, although care should be taken to avoid overdosing as it can lead to problems with calcium absorption. Zinc can be found in all good vitamin and fatty acid supplements. As well as remedying the problem of cracked paw pads, you may also notice that your dog’s skin and coat improve as a result of a dietary zinc supplement.
Walking and running on rough, hot, or icy terrain can cause your dog’s paw pads to become dry and cracked. This is especially true of hunting dogs that may develop problems with their paw pads due to excessive wear and tear. If you live in a rural area, and your dog roams freely, he may often get thorns and sharp stones stuck in his paws, leading to cuts and cracks.
It’s important to check your dog’s paws regularly to ensure they’re in good health. Dry and cracked paws can often lead to infection. If you want to avoid using chemical products to deal with your dog’s cracked paws, use Vaseline, which will help to soften your dog’s paws. Although Vaseline isn’t harmful if licked off in small amounts, you may want to cover your dog’s paws until the Vaseline has been fully absorbed.
If your dog’s cracked paws fail to heal, you should seek advice from your veterinarian as certain diseases can cause cracked and inflamed paw pads. Your veterinarian can carry out the necessary tests to see whether there’s an underlying health issue that’s causing the problem.
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