Caring For Your Dog's Paw Pads: Moisturizing, Peeling & More | Pupford
August 21st, 2023
Filed under Health + Wellness
If you’ve ever spent all day on your feet or worked primarily with your hands, you know how important it is to care for them properly.
But are you doing the same for your dogs? They rely on their paws for their every movement, which makes their paw pads one of their most important functional features.
Unfortunately, paw pads can get overlooked in dog care routines. Neglecting your dog’s paw pads can lead to blisters, tears, infections, and a variety of other skin issues -- all of which can be painful and unpleasant for your pup.
If you aren’t sure how to care for your dog’s paw pads properly, we’re here to help. Today we’ll be diving into:
- Why paw pads are so important
- Maintaining your dog’s paw pads
- Caring for paw pads in summer and winter
- Additional tips for paw pads
WHY PAW PADS ARE SO IMPORTANT
Paw pads are a layer of thick skin that cover the fatty tissue of your dog’s paws. Your dog’s paw pads are probably either pink or black, with either a smooth or rough texture. The level of callousness depends on the types of surfaces your dog walks on most -- dogs who are mainly indoors or on grass will have smoother pads while dogs who hike, walk on sidewalks, or experience a variety of surfaces will have rougher paw pads.
Paw pads serve as a protective barrier between your dog and the surfaces they walk on. They also help with balance, traction, and shock absorption as your dog moves. To sum it up, your dog can’t walk without them!
MAINTAINING & CARING FOR DOG PAWS & PADS
Since paw pads are so important to your dog, their maintenance should be a top priority. Here are some ways to care for your dog’s paw pads regularly:
- Check them when your dog comes in from being outside for tears, swelling, redness, blistering, or pebbles stuck in them.
- Keep your dog’s nails trimmed to avoid them digging into paw pads.
- and dry as possible. If they go out in the rain or water, wipe them with a clean towel as soon as they return.
These small routine checks can make a big difference over the course of your dog’s life.
CARING FOR PAW PADS IN SUMMER AND WINTER
Chapped lips, sunburn, dry skin -- we deal with the annoying and uncomfortable effects of harsh weather on our exposed skin. Your dog’s paw pads are no different.
Winter and summer tend to pose the biggest threat to your dog’s paw pads because of the dry air and heat, respectively. In addition to the care steps we mentioned before, there are a few additional things you should do to help out your dog during the extreme weather seasons:
- Avoid walking on hot pavement in the summer. Pavement holds onto heat, especially asphalt. Over the course of a walk, that can lead to burns, blisters, and irritation on your dog’s paw pads. A good rule of thumb is that if you hold your palm to the surface and it’s too hot to keep there for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. In these cases, it’s best to walk your dog on grassy and/or shaded surfaces.
- In the winter, see if your dog will tolerate booties. This will keep them from coming in contact with ice and frozen surfaces that can irritate their paws. Booties will also give them better traction… and let’s be honest they look super cute.
- Also in the winter, be sure to wipe in between their toes after every walk. Most sidewalks get salted and/or sanded in the winter (where it snows) which can get stuck in your dog’s paws and irritate the pads. Plus, they may try to to dislodge the particles, which may pose a health risk if ingested.
- Protect your dog’s paws with . If your dog refuses booties (no matter how stylish they may look, some dogs just hate them), you can apply a as a protective layer against harsh walking conditions. Just be sure to thoroughly clean their paws when they come back inside.
And remember, if the weather conditions are too harsh for you, they’re likely too harsh for your dog. Play it safe and consider exercising your dog indoors if the weather could pose a health or safety risk.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR PAW PADS
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can dive into the more in-depth tips for caring for your dog’s paw pads.
1. MOISTURIZING DOG PAWS
If you notice your dog’s paw pads are cracked, peeling, or very dry, you can moisturize them.
Do NOT use the same lotion you would use on your own hands -- they need a moisturizer specifically designed for canine paws! Just be sure to choose one that’s 100% natural and contains no dyes, fragrances, or harsh chemicals.
Also, don’t moisturize your dog’s paw pads any further if they are soft as it can make them susceptible to tearing.
One of the best ways to protect your dog’s paw pads is by letting them naturally build up calluses. You can do this by exposing your dog to a variety of surfaces when they walk. Try to incorporate sidewalks, streets (if it’s safe!), grass, trails, and other surfaces that present different textures.
Just be sure to exercise caution when walking on gravel, pebbles, or any surface that could be sharp.
We already touched on the effect your dog’s nails have on the state of their paw pads, but there are additional grooming considerations. Certain breeds are prone to the hair on their paws growing long.
Keeping the hair trimmed lets their paw pads get better traction. It also keeps the paw pads and space between the toes visible, so you can clean them better.
Keeping paw pads free of fur also prevents mats, which can get really uncomfortable for your dog. They may chew and rub at mats, causing hot spots or infections.
If the thought of trimming your dog’s paw hair seems overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. But it’s easier than you think! You can find tips for stress free paw grooming (and other areas of grooming) in the !
RECAP OF DOG PAW CARE
Caring for your dog's paws and pads is vital for their happiness and health! Remember to keep nails trimmed, paw pads moisturized and check for peeling and cracking.
We love to see your dogs happy and healthy, especially their paws. After all, how can they do fun tricks like “shake” or play seemingly endless games of fetch if their paws aren’t in tip-top shape?!