Socks, slippers, sandals, boots… we humans have many ways of protecting our feet, but our dogs really don’t! Sure, you can try to put booties over your pup’s paws, but even if they don’t kick them off, those precious pads can still get dry and cracked.
In addition to coming into direct contact with all types of surfaces and terrain, pooches sweat through their paws and depend on them to absorb shock (remember – they don’t have sneakers for that!). Our dogs’ paws go through a lot, and if they become split and cracked, it can cause them a lot of pain and discomfort.
If your four-legged friend has chronically dry, irritated paws, make sure to take him to the vet: this could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency, an allergy, or even a serious medical issue. But if he’s given an otherwise clean bill of health, you can help keep his paw pads healthy and moisturized with a few simple steps!
1. Hot Pavement
When the weather gets warm, the pavement can get hot! Many people don’t realize that our pups’ paws are actually quite sensitive, but it’s true: if the ground is too hot to leave your palm on for just a few seconds, it can scorch and burn Fido’s feet. But even if the sidewalk isn’t sizzling, that toasty surface can suck the moisture right out of his paws!
2. Wintery Conditions
Likewise, chilly weather can cause paw pads to dry out. In addition to snow, ice, wind, and frigid temperatures, sidewalks and roads are often coated with irritants like sand and salt.
Adding to the point above, the salt used to melt ice in the wintertime isn’t the stuff you keep on your table — it can contain chemicals. When spring rolls around, the fertilizer on your lawn or garden can irritate your dog’s paws. And believe it or not, it’s possible that he’s sensitive to your household cleaners, especially those used on your floors or carpets.
4. Allergic Reactions
It may come as a surprise, but dogs can suffer from environmental allergies, just like us humans! The big difference is, their paws are completely exposed to these irritants because they don’t wear shoes! Believe it or not, food allergies can also lead to paw irritation. Sometimes these allergies make your dog’s feet itch, leading to compulsive nibbling and chewing that may result in painful infections or dry, cracked pads.
By taking a few precautions, you can help prevent paw pad irritation in the first place! If the temperatures are extreme and your pooch will cooperate and wear booties, this is a great way to keep those feet protected against inclement weather. If not, avoid walks on hot pavement and try to circumvent areas that are covered in salt in the winter. If the latter can’t be avoided, make sure to wipe your dog’s feet off as soon as he comes indoors. (Note: you don’t want to risk him licking that stuff off, either!)
If it’s an allergy or sensitivity causing your pup’s paws to dry out, consult with your vet about diet changes, supplements, or prescription meds, and try changing your floor cleaners to ones free of chemicals and/or fragrances.
But if your pooch already has dry, cracked paws, try…
2. Shea Butter
This popular ingredient is known for its moisturizing properties, for both humans and dogs! This all-natural substance is actually fat from nuts that grow on the African shea tree, but it does wonders for hydrating and soothing dry skin and paws. Shea butter is a wonderful solution because it’s non-toxic to dogs, so while they shouldn’t lick it off before it gets a chance to moisturize and sink in, it won’t hurt them if they do.
3. Coconut Oil
Like shea butter, coconut oil is natural and safe to use on your pup. It’s known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and moisturizing properties, and can be used as a homemade treatment for a multitude of skin issues. It may be hard to keep your dog from lapping it off their paws, though — especially if you already use it as a meal supplement or a toothpaste — but the longer it sits, the better it can help soothe irritation!
This multitasking herb is derived from a flower and known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be applied in a gel form, and is a common ingredient in soothing salves because of its efficacy.
5. Omega Fatty Acids
These multitasking nutrients can ease allergies, calm inflammation, and help restore the natural oils in your dog’s skin and coat, providing relief from his tail to his paws. Consider getting a supplement free of common food allergens such as gluten, grain, and soy. As always, consult with your vet before making any dietary changes or additions.
It’s always important for your furry companions to stay hydrated, but it’s key if they’re suffering from dry skin or paws. After all, how can those feet retain moisture if their body is thirsty? Try to encourage your pooch to lap up a little extra by keeping his water dish full and fresh.
7. All Natural Paw Balm
A tin of non-toxic, pet-friendly paw balm that melts into paws can help your pup’s paws heal much faster.
Our Nature’s Butter™ Paw Balm is made from 100% all natural, ethically sourced, pet-safe butters and essential oils, poured by hand on a family farm in Northern Minnesota. This balm features ultra-hydrating ingredients that lock in moisture in layers, including some of the beneficial materials listed above. Not only does this balm ease discomfort, it can offer protection from further irritation. Part of our new line of soothing and moisturizing dog-safe balms. To learn more about the Nature’s Butter™ collection, click here.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.