All dog owners know just how excited their four legged friends get when they are out on a walk. All those new scents and smells test tail wagging to new limits, and then there's the chance to be off the lead in a park or woodland, which is heaven for any dog running around to their heart's content. However, this is often when an injury to a paw may happen and it's something all owners need to watch out for.
A dog's paws are incredibly tough but they are not indestructible. Apart from objects on the ground that might injure a paw, there are other things that might be the cause of the problem. This includes dryness of the pads which then develops into a more serious problem, namely painful cracks.
There are many things that can lead to your dog developing cracked pads, which includes the following:
As long as you have noticed there is a problem early enough and the pad has not become infected, with the correct treatment cracked pads will heal pretty quickly – usually with a week or two. However, if the crack is deep and has got infected then it will take more care and longer for the pad to heal.
If you take a look at your dog's paws after a walk, especially if you think there is a problem, you will be able to deal with it sooner rather than later, which is always the best case scenario when dealing with any injury. Here are some pointers to bear in mind if you think your dog has injured a paw or is suffering from a cracked pad.
If the paw has a deep cut whether on the pad or elsewhere on the foot, you will need to take your dog to the vets. However, if the cut is just an abrasion, then you should be able to deal with it yourself. The first thing you have to do is clean the cut thoroughly using a gentle antiseptic solution, and once the cut is clean apply some iodine or other antiseptic ointment to the wound.
If the cut is deep, then the vet will have to clean it out for you and treat it with all the right ointments and maybe even a painkiller and slow acting antibiotic jab to prevent any infection from setting in. The vet may also decide to bandage the paw and a put a collar on your dog to stop them from removing the bandage and licking their wound.
If the paw has been bandaged, then it will need to be changed frequently so the wound remains clean. This rule applies to both minor and more severe injuries to the paw. Dogs actually sweat through their paws and pads which means moisture builds up under the bandage, and this is something you need to avoid at all costs. Remember, bacteria thrives in moist places! Damp bandages will also slow down the healing process!
If your dog has cracked pads, you will need to keep these as clean as possible which can seem like an impossible task. However, if you gently clean the pad with a very mild soap and water solution, or even a very mild antiseptic and do so frequently, then you should be able to keep on top of the problem. You must remember to dry the paw thoroughly after washing it for the same reasons as mentioned above.
If your vet has given you a prescription cream or ointment to use on the cracked pad, you must apply this to the paw as directed by the vet. Once the pad has healed, you should stop applying the ointment because it may soften the pads too much which then leads to further problems – the pads become more vulnerable to any injury and they have a tendency to split!
If you notice your dog has cracked pads and you are not sure why, then you need to discuss the problem with your vet. There are a few conditions that can cause cracked pads as mentioned above, and one of them is called Pemphigus. This is a rare condition seen in dogs, but it is one that affects their immune system and one symptom is cracked and sore pads. Vets usually prescribe some kind of immunosuppressant drug as an effective treatment for the condition.
Occasionally, a dog on the wrong type of diet can end up with cracked and painful pads. Yeast infections are usually a result of some kind of food allergy and this needs to be discussed with your vet. There are many very effective anti-fungal treatments on the market which clear up the problem pretty quickly. However, you would need to look at your dog's diet and make sure you change it so the problem does not reoccur. A zinc deficiency in a diet can also lead to cracked pads which means vets normally recommend a zinc/selenium supplement be given to dogs to speed up the healing process.