Have you ever wondered, “Why does my dog lick his paws?” If it happens for more than just a few minutes, it could be an indication that something is amiss.
Dog paw pads are meant to be tough; “They protect your dog’s joints by absorbing shock, and they allow him to enjoy time outdoors with his favorite people,” says Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America. “While some cracking of the dog paw pads is normal, if your dog’s paws start bleeding, or his cracked paws seem to be causing him pain, it’s time to call your veterinarian.”
Cracked paws occur when cracks or fissures appear on the surface of the dog paw. “For example, if you look under your dog’s foot, you may notice that one of the pads has a crack or opening in it that may cause the dog to limp or lick at the area,” explains Dr. Tiffany Margolin, DVM, CVA.
While some cracking might be a normal result of just walking around on uneven terrain, once the cracks get deeper and you see your dog starting to show signs of discomfort, it’s time to do something about it.
Causes Of Rough & Scratchy Dog Paws
- Anything from garden sprays to carpet cleaners and deicers could be the culprit. Since dogs tend to chew on irritated paws they end up ingesting whatever chemicals they come into contact with, which is pretty scary if you think about it.
When shes not geeking out about dogs, you can find her reading, hiking with her two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, or paddleboarding.
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As Preventive Vets dog behavior expert and lead trainer at Pupstanding Academy, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement and force-free methods. With over 13 years of experience, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs on a wide variety of training and behavior issues. Her specialties include dog aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, and puppy socialization.
Cathy is certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, holding both the CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA designations. Cathy is a Fear Free Certified Certified Professional, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and the Dog Writers Association of America.
How to Treat Cracked Dog Paws
“Dogs are usually excellent at healing and should find their paws naturally improve over time,” says Dr. Simon.
Here’s how to support the healing process:
Step 1: Clean paw pads with lukewarm, soapy water to remove any irritants. Rinse well.
Step 2: Apply a dog-friendly paw balm or moisturizer according to the label instructions before going out to play and in the evening. Rub it in as much as possible.
Step 3: Use a temporary buster collar to ensure she doesn’t chew or lick at her paws if necessary.
Also, pay attention to what may cause dry paws. For some dogs, this is an ongoing issue—especially during cold winter months. Being prepared with dog paw balm can help ease symptoms of cracked paws early.
Since your pup may be tempted to lick off just about anything you put on her paws, it’s important to stick with non-toxic, dog-friendly paw balms and moisturizers.
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Our pick: Soothe Move Paw Balm by The Anxious Pet
This safe-to-lick dog paw balm is rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients including broad-spectrum CBD to help soothe dry skin.
Things to Consider
Why are my dog’s paw pads like sandpaper?
Why are my dog’s foot pads so rough?
Do cracked paw pads hurt dogs?