If your pooch suffers from sore, cracked paws, don't despair. Various treatments exist, offering relief and healing. Although there are safe home remedies to choose from, always clear any treatment with your veterinarian. If your dog's paws are severely damaged, take him to the vet.
Sore Pad Prevention
If you walk around barefoot a lot, you'll notice that your feet become less tender and form calluses. The same is true of your dog's paw pads. You can avoid sore paw pads by acclimating your dog gradually to more exercise or harsher ground conditions. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, so don't walk your dog for long periods on hot pavement or rocky terrain if she's not used to it. You can also put booties on her, although she is unlikely to appreciate this gesture.
Apply a moisturizer such as petroleum jelly to your dog's cracked pads. Rub it in well, as he will probably lick it. Because he's likely to lick it off, you might have to put an Elizabethan collar on him. These cones, which fit around the face, prevent dogs from gnawing or licking at wounded or healing areas. Get one from your vet or a local pet store. Along with or instead of a petroleum jelly-based moisturizer, you can try herbal moisturizers containing ingredients such as St. John's wort or calendula, which aid in soothing and healing.
If your dog's paws are bleeding and painful and you can't get to the vet right away, gently wash the sores with antibacterial soap. Dry carefully and put triple antibiotic ointment on the sores. Gently wrap the foot with a small, clean, soft sock. You can bind the sock with vet wrap or duct tape, but do not get the wrap or tape on your dog's fur. Use even pressure for wrapping, and do not wrap tightly.
Visit the Vet
If the cracked paws do not heal within a few days of treatment, take your dog to the vet. If you don't know of any activity that could have caused sore, cracked paws, take your dog to the vet right away. Cracked paws can be a symptom of serious illness, so your vet might want to do blood work or even biopsy the pad if the sores look suspicious. The vet may give your dog antibiotics to combat or prevent infection in the pads.
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.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.