What Do Rough Pads on Dogs Mean?

"I could use some moisturizer, please!"
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Your pup's paw pads serve an important purpose: they cushion her steps while protecting her feet from extreme temperatures and rough ground. They are naturally a little rough to the touch, but if you notice them feeling overly rough, becoming cracked or bleeding, it's time to check out the cause.

Normal Pads

Because they are always between a dog and the ground, her pads aren't going to be smooth as a whistle. Similar to calluses you get when you walk around barefoot, the pads get rough and thick as a way to protect your princess's feet. If you're giving your puppy a foot rub and feel some texture on the pads, it's probably normal.

Rough and Cracked

When you can feel flakes of skin on the pads or see cracks developing, that's not normal for your pooch's pads. It's likely she's been exposed to something that's too much for her pads to handle, such as overly hot concrete, freezing snow or unusually rough terrain. Think about what's been different in your walks lately to try to determine the cause of her too-rough pads. If she's an older dog, it could be age causing her skin to dry out.


Pads that are too rough or cracked can develop deep fissures that bleed, opening the door to infection and causing your poor furry friend a considerable amount of pain. When you notice skin flaking or cracks, treat her paws immediately. Your vet can recommend a paw pad moisturizer for you to apply several times a day to help reduce the roughness. Also, keep Princess away from harsh surfaces for a few days while her paw pads heal.


To help keep Princess' paw pads healthy, trim any hair between her toes regularly -- your groomer can take care of this if you're not comfortable with it. Hair that grows long enough to get between your pup's paw pads and the ground can interfere with her traction and cause cracking. The long hair can collect dirt and burrs that rub raw places on her pads as well. For harsh conditions, try putting dog booties on your pooch's feet. They might not be the height of fashion, but the soft, flexible rubber bottoms keep her pads away from extreme heat or cold and pad-harming surfaces such as rocky terrain.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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