- It’s normal for dog paw pads to be dry or cracked.
- Daily wear and tear is a common cause of paw dryness — Seasonal allergens, environmental conditions, and allergic reactions can cause dry and cracked paws.
- Check paw pads daily — Your dog may step on irritants that harm their paws.
- Skin condition paw pad hyperkeratosis can lead to infections — Your vet can help.
- Dog paw balms are a great treatment option — Here’s our list of the best paw balms for dogs, backed by our vets.
- Or use these four natural moisturizers that are already in your cabinet — Coconut oil, shea butter, vitamin E or beeswax are all safe and helpful solutions for your pup’s paws.
These 4 at-home, natural remedies can help dry paw pads
Prevention is key to protecting your dog’s feet. You can use some items you may already have at home in your medicine cabinet, buy balms that have safe, natural ingredients.
Avoid products with artificial fragrances or chemical ingredients, as they may sting or irritate your dog’s paw pads.
- Shea Butter. Rubbing this into paw pads can soothe, smooth, and hydrate skin. It’s naturally moisturizing, as Shea Butter is a fat made from African shea tree seeds.
- Vitamin E. This may already be a part of your dog’s diet, but it’s also available as a cream. This natural nutrient helps heal blisters, cracks, and dry spots. If your pet is fond of baths, try adding Vitamin E oil to the tub. Just make sure your dog doesn’t lick it off or drink the water!
- Beeswax. Nature’s solution for healing chapped skin, blisters, and dry spots is an eco-friendly option. Beeswax is a common skincare ingredient because it locks in moisture. This natural remedy is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory — and perfectly safe for dogs to eat.
- All-natural paw balms. Products like these do a great job at sticking to your dog’s feet while they’re walking around. A daily application is a great way to prevent cracked paws. Here are a couple of our favorite balms:
A high-quality vegan balm
Paw Soother® by Natural Dog Company
Bodhi Dog Organic Paw Balm
A popular beeswax product
Musher’s Secret Natural Paw Wax
How and when to apply products to your dog’s feet
Applying balms or oils to your dog’s feet before bedtime is ideal because your pooch is relaxed and calm. It can also help to put socks or booties on your dog’s feet to prevent them from licking the product off.
You can also apply balm after a long walk to soothe your canine companion’s weary feet.
How to protect your dog’s feet
Avoid extreme weather when possible. On hot summer days, walk early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid high heat when the ground is cooler. During winter, take shorter walks and wipe your dog’s paws with water before drying with a towel. If your dog will tolerate it, put booties on their paws to protect them from extreme temperatures.
At-home grooming like washing their feet, grooming their nails, and cutting their fur can help protect paws from irritants and prevent bacteria from forming. Dog booties are also a great option.
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How can dog owners identify cracked paw pads?
The best way to identify if your dog’s paws are cracked or dry is to touch them. Your pet’s paws should be tough, but not too rough. Paws should not be too soft, as they have to work as shoes while walking.
Check for any cracks, cuts, and bleeding daily. Dog owners should inspect their dog’s paws after every outdoor adventure in case glass, sticks, or rocks punctured them. Sometimes dogs will even step on a bee stinger, so check both in a paw and in-between toes.
Watch your dog’s behaviors. If they’re excessively licking or chewing paws, it can be a sign something’s wrong. If your dog is favoring one paw, not putting weight on a paw, or avoiding walking it can be a sign of an injury or dry paw.
How to touch your pooch’s paws without panic (theirs or yours!)
Some pups don’t want to stay still and loathe having their sensitive paws touched. If your pooch is fighting your touch, try easing them into a regular paw care process.
Keep your canine companion comfortable — Dogs will feel more relaxed in a familiar environment.
Give your dog an at-home spa day with a paw massage — Start gently massaging balm into the paw pads. Massaging paw pads helps to get dogs used to having their paws touched while circulating blood flow.
Pet the top of their paws gently — Get your pup used to your touch when they are laying down or sitting. The fur on top is less sensitive.
Frequently complement your dog — Rewarding them with treats and compliments for good behavior reinforces that paw massages are a good time.
Be patient and let your dog adjust — Some dogs may take weeks to get comfortable having their paws touched, while other dogs may never enjoy the experience.
Rubbing paw balm into their pads a few times a week helps dogs paws stay conditioned and healthy. It can even create a tighter bond between humans and dogs!
When should dog owners consider a vet visit?
Dog owners should take their canine companion to the vet if they notice signs of pain or discomfort.
👉 If your dog’s paws are bleeding, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.
Veterinarians can determine the severity of your dog’s condition and make a diagnosis. Vets will determine if dogs need medical treatment and how to treat your dog’s feet and paw pads.
What are dry paws and cracked paws?
Dry paws and cracked paws are paws that are overly rough or have cracks/fissures. While some dryness is normal, cracks can grow. This can lead to other health problems.
Why do dogs get cracked paws or dry paws?
Paws go through a lot of wear and tear: daily walks, playtime, and adventures that add up over a lifetime. Since a dog’s paws are their shoes, there’s no protection between their paw pads and their environment.
Dogs may have allergic reactions because of direct contact with irritants, like salt on winter sidewalks or fertilizers on summer lawns. Winter conditions like cold weather, ice, and snow can pull moisture from a dog’s pads. Dogs may also burn their paw pads on hot pavement. Surfaces like sidewalks or outside terrain may also damage your dog’s paws.
Stress or boredom can cause excessive licking. This excess moisture builds up between toes and can lead to bacteria and potential infections.
What is paw pad hyperkeratosis?
Paw pad hyperkeratosis is a skin condition that causes thickened or extra skin growth on a dog’s paw pads. The skin sometimes cracks, which can lead to secondary infections or ‘hairy feet,’ since the cracked paw pads typically look like hair.
Dogs may develop canine hyperkeratosis because of genetics, age, or health conditions like canine distemper, or pemphigus foliaceus. Some breeds are more prone to hyperkeratosis, like Labradors or Golden Retrievers.
Dog owners can take one simple step to decrease the severity of canine hyperkeratosis: apply a moisturizing balm or ointment daily. A paw balm, salve, and other at-home remedies can go a long way towards helping the skin heal.