Limping and excessive paw licking are both warning signs that your dog may be suffering from cracked pads. Help protect your pooch -- and your wallet -- from this painful condition. Whether illness or weather conditions are to blame, knowing what causes cracked pads can help you provide the best care or prevention.
Before treating your dog’s paws for cracked pads, check with your veterinarian. She may want to see you and your pup for a blood test or biopsy to rule out diseases that can cause pads to crack. Hyperkeratosis, an incurable but usually treatable hardening and thickening of the pads, can happen with old age or as the result of a genetic condition. Your vet can help you counter the thickening pads caused by hyperkeratosis with paw soaks and ointments, and can prescribe antibiotics for infected fissures, which, when severe, can cause lameness in dogs.
Snow and ice in the winter and hot sidewalks in the summer can cause trauma to the bottom of your dog's feet, sometimes resulting in cracked paws. To prevent this from happening, try creating a barrier between the elements and his paw pads with a layer of petroleum jelly or some protective dog boots. Avoid very hot sidewalks and spending too much time in the snow and ice, and wash your pup's feet after being outdoors to get rid of any salt or other harsh chemicals, which can cause damage or pain to dry or already cracked paws.
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