Dog Paw Pad Problems: 7 Steps to Alleviate the Pain

It's no wonder why dog paw pad problems are so common. As tough and thick as their feet may be, they are still vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, burns, and soreness throughout the year. In summer, dogs walk on hot pavement and can step on thorns and burrs. In winter, they step on jagged pieces of ice and irritating road salt.



Here is what you can do to ease your dog's discomfort.

  1. Inspect the paw pads. Since most dogs don't like to have their feet touched, do this slowly and gently. Raise the problem paw and look for redness, swelling, bleeding, or other signs of irritation. Press gently on the pads, around the claws and between the toes. If you dog cries or winces, take a closer look.
  2. Keep an eye out for burrs. These prickly seed cases can get painfully stuck in the paw pads and between the toes. Use a tweezer to gently remove them. If they are tangled in hair, use a scissors to cut it out.
  3. Trim the fur around the paws. Your dog's hairy feet are perfect traps for burrs, irritating moisture, or jagged pieces of ice. Hair on the feet traps moisture and prevents air from circulating. Dogs with lots of hair between their toes, like Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees, and Samoyeds, tend to get more foot infections.
  4. Get the mud out. Dried mud that accumulates between the toes can cause pain and irritation. After your dog has returned from his muddy escapades, simply wash his feet in warm, soapy water or splash with a garden hose.
  5. Keep the paws dry. Dog's feet can stay damp for hours. Too much moisture can irritate the skin and even attract mosquitoes and fleas. It is worth towel drying his feet whenever they get wet. Pay particular attention to the area between the toes, which moisture is most likely to accumulate.
  6. Wash away the salt. In winter, salt on sidewalks and roads can really irritate your dog's paws and lead to cracking. Salt that dissolves between the toes provides a breeding ground for bacteria. After winter walks, wash away the salt with soapy water. For convenience, keep a bowl or bucket of water near the front door. Then, dry the paws well and apply a small amount of moisturizer with lanolin.
  7. Watch out for dryness. Like human skin, dog paws can suffer from dry, cracked, calloused skin. In winter, especially, apply a little lotion or petroleum jelly. Don't do it too often because it will make the pads too soft to provide adequate protection. To prevent your dog from licking it off, apply it at mealtime. This way, your dog will eat first while the lotion has time to sink in.
  8. Apply a paw care product. This reduces abrasion and protects paws year-around from sand, hot pavement, ice, and road salt. It contains vitamin E to moisturize and help heal wounds and keep paws healthy. When applied to pads and between toes, it dries in seconds to form an invisible boot to prevent potential paw problems.

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Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.