Dog dry skin can happen to your doggy’s paw pads too.
That’s because a dog’s paw pad is made of an outer layer of very thick, rough skin. This thick, spongy skin provides traction and plays the role of shock absorber whenever a dog runs, jumps, or skids to a stop. Thus, the pads help to prevent injuries or abrasions to the paws.
Nevertheless, even though the paw pads are tough and hardy, your dog is still susceptible to sore or cracked pads at some point.
You see, a dog walks on its toes, not on the soles of his feet. And a dog’s heels never touch the ground. In other words, he walks bare toe all the time. Hence, the pads are constantly exposed to the elements, as well as dirt and grime.
A dry and cracked foot pad can cause some discomfort to your doggy. Some dogs will let you know. But some would still happily go about their daily routine without a complaint. So, it is up to you to examine his feet on a regular basis. And ensure his feet is in good condition.
Signs of foot trouble
- Very dry pads
- Split or cut on the paw pads
- Constantly licking or chewing his paws
- Favoring one foot (carrying it as if it hurts)
- Avoid walking
What might have caused the paw pads to be dry and cracked?
1. Dry Skin
When the paw pads are too dry, they can develop cracks. Just like the soles of human feet. When the skin gets too dry, we could end up with chapped or cracked heels.
2. Where You Walk The Dog
Rain or shine, dogs look forward to their walky. Just be mindful to stay off hot pavement and sidewalk in the summer. Cement and asphalt can become unbearably hot after a day of 37C (100F) temperature.
Take precautionary measures when you and your dog go on a long walk or hike. Rough terrain and rocky paths can cause soreness or injuries to exposed paws. Ensure that he has paw protection for burrs, sharp rocks, or broken glasses.
3. Contact Irritation
Some chemicals or detergent can cause irritations to the pet’s paws if your dog happened to walk on them.
- Household cleaning agents(eg rug shampoo or floor cleaners)
- Lawn chemicals
- Garden fertilizers
- Oil in the street
- Salt (as deicer)
Dog food allergies or inhalant allergies can cause intense itch to your dog’s skin, ears and feet. To alleviate the itchiness, your dog chews at his paws, which could result in very sore, or cracked pads in the long run.
5. Fungal Infection
Dogs can develop foot fungal infection. One common type of infection is malassezia, which is caused by an yeast overgrowth. This condition can be very itchy for your pet. As a result, your dog can be constantly chewing or licking at the irritated paw. This self mutilation can cause the paw pads to crack.
The veterinarian may prescribe medicated shampoo along with anti-fungal cream to eliminate the infection.
6. Winter Hazards
Paws become unusually dry and cracked during the cold, dry winter months. Ice and snow can re-freeze in between the toes or paw pads making it painful for the dog to walk. Often, de-icing chemicals and road salt aggravate the condition. These agents irritate the paw pads, cause dryness, resulting in split pads.
7. Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis
Nasodigital Hyperkeratosis is a condition where keratin(thickened, hard, dry skin) forms excessively on top of the dog’s nose, paw pads, or both.
This callus-like growth is common in older dogs. At times, a tear duct blockage may contribute to the cause. In severe cases, the thickened paw pads fissure or crack.
Although it is incurable, the symptoms can be managed by hydrating the affected area. The veterinarian may prescribe a softening agent for the condition
8. Zinc Deficiency
A zinc deficiency can lead to poor condition in the paw pads.
Dogs can develop zinc deficiency due to:
- An inherent defect to absorb zinc from the intestinal tract — Some known breeds are Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute.
- A diet low in zinc — This can happen if you feed poor quality generic dog food.
- Mineral interference — High dietary calcium intake reduces zinc absorption
The paw pads may be thickened and fissured. Zinc deficiency is often accompanied by other symptoms such as dull hair coat, hair loss, and crusty or scaly skin around the dog’s eyes, mouth, or ears. Secondary bacterial and yeast infection can set in.
Take care of the paw pads
Your dog’s paw pads may be thick and resilient. However, they are still vulnerable to excessive wear and tear. From time to time, the pads may cracked due to dryness, contact irritants, allergies, fungal infection, or the harsh winter elements.
Although less common, conditions like Nasodigital Keratosis and dietary zinc deficiency can also lead to split pads problems.
If your dog already has dry, flaky skin, check his pads to ensure that they are not overly dry and fissured. Consider using a dog balm to help protect and condition the paw pads to keep them healthy.
If you want to keep the paws healthy, apply Musher’s Secret paw wax on the pads and between the toes. It protects paws against sand burn and hot pavement in summer, and prevents snowballing and salt burn on your dog’s toes in the winter. Musher’s Secret also helps to heal dry cracked paw pads.