Keep your dog's footpads from becoming dry, cracked and possibly even infected by massaging them with moisturizing agents and protecting them from irritants.
Treating Problem Footpads
Although they're meant to be tough, dog footpads are still subject to trauma, injury and everyday wear and tear. Pads can become dry and cracked, and if an infection sets in, could require veterinary treatment. Protecting your pup's feet and catching footpad problems early through regular inspection can help prevent serious issues.
If your dog is limping, has something embedded in a footpad, or you see signs of injury, such as redness, bleeding or discharge, consult your vet.
Get into the habit of regularly looking over your dog's feet by touching, holding and massaging them. This might be easiest when you're grooming or just relaxing together. Getting your dog used to having his feet touched will make him more likely to go along with a moisturizing routine, as well as toenail clipping.
When you check your dog’s paw pads for dryness, also inspect between his toes and around his nails to look for puncture wounds, cuts, swelling or tenderness that might indicate a problem.
Soaks and Ointments
Homemade foot soaks can be made using warm water and just enough iodine to turn the water an amber hue. Another soothing agent is a bag of chamomile tea added to a foot soak. If paws are simply irritated, keeping them dry can help ease discomfort. As a preventative measure, commercial waxes applied to a dog's footpads before exposure to the elements can reduce the potential for drying.
Iodine can temporarily stain light fur and surfaces your dog comes in contact with. If you have an indoor dog, you may opt to apply iodine solution to footpads with a rag and cover with booties until dry.
While you can buy dog footpad moisturizing agents from pet supply stores, you also can use common household items to restore moisture. Rub small amounts of petroleum jelly or cold-pressed, food-grade coconut oil onto footpads, using just enough to absorb into the skin. Massage just as you would the heel of your own foot, working the substance into cracks and dry spots. Distract your dog with a chew toy, or he may be tempted to lick away the moisturizer, negating its effectiveness.
Don't use moisturizing creams made for humans on your pet. They could be toxic.
How often you need to moisturize depends on how dry your dog’s pads are. If he’s primarily an outside dog, and exposed to the elements, he’ll need more frequent moisturizing than an indoor dog.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.