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A dog's paws are like our best, most supportive pair of walking, running, and hiking shoes all in one. They provide traction and serve as shock absorbers. Just like our shoes, paws protect our dog's bones, tendons, and ligaments from the impact of daily activities such as walking, running, hiking, and climbing.
A dog's paws contain skin, bone, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue.
The more our dogs walk or run, their paws become more tolerant of cold, heat, and rough surfaces. But that does not mean that they are indestructible.
After adding mileage, coming into contact with different surfaces, and other factors the outdoor and indoor elements can bring, their paws can be subject to wear and tear, most commonly dry and cracked paws.
So what can we do to keep their paws in tip-top shape? Let us begin by figuring out the causes of dry dog paws, and then we will explore some natural treatment options and home remedies.
WHAT CAUSES DRY DOG PAWS?
Here are some common factors that can cause dry dog paws:
- Allergic reactions – Dogs can suffer from environmental allergies, just like humans. But because their bare paws come in direct contact with the irritants, they are more susceptible to allergic reactions than us. The irritation from allergens can lead to chewing and nibbling to ease the itch, resulting in dry dog paws.
- Chemicals – Many parts of the country use salt to melt ice on the roads and sidewalks during the winter. This type of salt contains chemicals that can dry your dog's paws.
Fertilizers people use on their lawn or garden have chemicals as well, and when your dog comes in contact with the grass while walking, it can irritate their paws.
- Dry air – Having the heater on in the wintertime reduces the moisture in the air, thus making the air dry. The dry air can cause your dog's paws to become dry and cracked.
- Excessive licking – Whether it's stress or just out of boredom, some dogs will excessively lick their paws, causing the skin to dry up and crack. Excessive licking can cause moisture to form between their toes, leading to yeast and bacterial infections.
- Rough surfaces – Exposures to non-smooth surfaces such as sand, rocky terrain, or hard concrete can no doubt scrape your dog's paws and cause them to crack and dry.
- Hot pavement – Many dog owners are not aware of how hot the pavement can get during the Summer months. This heat will suck the moisture right out of your dog's paws, or even burn them. Always check the pavement when it's hot outside. If the pavement feels hot too the touch for you, it will most likely be too hot for your dog to walk on
- Winter conditions – Winter elements such as snow, sleet, and ice can all contribute to dry dog paws.
HOW TO IDENTIFY DRY DOG PAWS?
You can identify if your dog's paws are dry by touching them. It's natural for your dog's paw to be a little rough to the touch, but they should not feel overly rough.
Also, check for any cracked, cut, or bleeding on the paws; this can indicate that they are severely dry.
In some cases, you might notice that your dog will avoid walking or favors one paw; this can be signs that your dog's paws are dry or even injured.
Your dog might constantly lick and chew on their paw pads, and express pain by whining or even showing aggression when you go near.
When dry and cracked dog paws are left untreated, it can be very painful for your dog and potentially cause infections.
If you notice what appears to be hair on your dogs paw pads, it could be a condition called hairy dog paw hyperkeratosis.
DRY DOG PAWS HOME REMEDIES
There are many home remedies you can try to help heal your dog's dry paws. Here are some of the most popular:
- Wear booties – When you see dogs wearing booties, it can be adorable, but dog booties serve a much greater purpose. Assuming that your dog will cooperate and let you put them on, dog booties can protect their paws from the extreme hot or cold surfaces when they are outdoors.
- Exercise precautions during extreme weather – During the hot summer months, walk your dog early in the morning or late evening when the ground is not as hot. It can also prevent other heat-related issues that can affect your dog.
In the winter, when snow, salt, sleet, or other harsh elements are present, avoid going outside for extended periods. Once you get home, gently wipe your dog's paws with a washcloth and water, then thoroughly dry their paws.
- Shea Butter – Applying shea butter can soothe and hydrate their dry paws, it can also be useful for hot spots on dogs. Shea Butter is the fat from the nuts that grow on the African shea tree. Its natural ingredient is popularly known for the moisturizing properties. Most importantly, it is non-toxic to dogs, so if they try to lick it off before it absorbs, it is not harmful. However, your dog may have mild gastrointestinal upset if they lick too much off.
- Coconut Oil – Similar to shea butter, coconut oil is also all-natural and non-toxic to dogs. In addition to its moisturizing properties, coconut oil is also antibacterial and antiviral. It is important to let the coconut oil sit on the paws for as long as possible to get the full benefit, but It may not be easy to keep your dog from licking the coconut oil off.
You can read this article for home remedies for redness between your dog's toes.
NATURAL TREATMENT FOR DRY DOG PAWS
When it comes to natural remedies for dry dog paws, many people are discovering the benefits of Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD.
When CBD is applied topically, it interacts with nearby cannabinoid receptors in your dog's skin.
Our CBD Topical Soothing Balm contains 100% natural ingredients, including shea butter and coconut oil, highly effective moisturizing ingredients mentioned earlier. Also, we add in frankincense, myrrh, Niaouli, vitamin E, and lavender essential oils. We carefully selected these ingredients, especially for their known benefits to treat dry skin.
WHEN SHOULD YOU GO TO THE VET?
Since your dog's paws will come in direct contact with walking surfaces daily, it's normal for them to experience dryness or some cracking, especially as they get older, and their paws get more mileage on them.
If you notice that one or more of their paws has started bleeding or is causing pain, you should have your vet take a look to make sure it is nothing more serious or the result of an injury.
In some cases, dry and cracked paws can also be a skin condition known as Hyperkeratosis. A situation when the skin is thickened on each of the pads, making them prone to cracking. Unlike dry paws we've been talking about, this condition can be from immune or metabolic diseases, parasitic, or fungus. When it's severe, you will need to see your vet and have the excess dry skin trimmed off.
Because dogs can't verbally tell us exactly what's wrong, we can only work with the symptoms we see. If you've tried home remedies and you're still concerned, or you think it might be something serious, it's always best to go the safe route and talk to your vet about your dog's dry paws.