It’s no question, you’ve witnessed your dog obsessively lick their paws, what’s with that? Taking notice of your dog’s damaged paw pads is one of the most common experiences as a dog lover. However, the big mistake is refusing to take the step further: discovering the implications based on observations.

As much as you wish it, your dog cannot verbally let you know if they’re in pain or discomfort. In turn, they will send you the warning signs and it’s vital to recognize and understand them. Injured paw pads are blaring alarms of latent health complications.

Turn the overlooked matter into your priority. From symptoms to recommended maintenance and treatment, here is everything you need to know.

What Are Paw Pads?

Your dog’s paw pads are intended to be tough.

Paw pads contain the layering of fatty tissue covered by pink or black-pigmented skin. With insulating fats, these offer relative protection from warmer or colder surfaces. Overall, they assist with balance, traction, stability, and, “Protect your dog’s joints by absorbing shock,” according to Animal Medical Center’s Dr. Kelly Ryan.

As a puppy, their paw pads are undoubtedly softer and plumper, and completely adorable! Although, as they trek and cover more ground, they turn rough, cracked, and dry.

The Warning Signs of Injured Paw Pads

You cannot go wrong with identifying the red flags.

The initial sign may either be behavioral or visual observation. Behavior-wise, your dog will start to lick and nibble their paws. If this lasts for a few minutes at a time, they are attempting to relieve themselves of pain or discomfort, hence indicating a deeper complication.

Prior to or following the behavior, you will notice cracks and fissures on the paw pads’ surface. Depending on the extent and coverage of such damage, some doggies may begin to limp as well.

Causes & Prevention of Damaged Paw Pads

It’s not as simple as overuse and rough surfaces.

Extreme temperatures innately heat or freeze the outdoor surfaces. In the summer, the heated surfaces will damage the skin layer on your dog’s paw pads. To avoid damage, walk your dog before the sun peaks, or after, to allow for concrete cooling.

On the other hand, the cold air and lack of aerial moisture can cause drying, which leads to cracks and fissures. You can steer clear of the plausible injury by investing in balm usage or dog booties.

As a dog lover, you’re guaranteed to obsess over cleanliness and who can blame you?

Indoors, the household cleaning materials contain chemicals and ingredients that are relatively toxic. This alone impairs your dog’s paw pads upon contact, but imagine the internal harm when your dog licks their paws.

During the winter, the pavements may be immersed in de-icing salts. And in the summer, gardens may be flourishing in fertilizers. Similar to household materials, potential injury is immense. In all three cases, prevention starts with wiping your dog’s paws after a walk or regularly within the day, to eliminate the presence of toxic chemicals.

Much like humans, most dogs endure environmental and food allergies which cause persistent itching. And when this begins, along with nibbling, cracks and open wound form, with a risk of infection.

Too calloused and too smooth, is just as treacherous.

Overexposure to rough surfaces causes callous; therefore, increasing the risk of visible damage to paw pads. Likewise, the lack of exposure causes smooth pads which will most likely tear on sudden coverage of rough surfaces.

It sounds difficult to achieve the optimal, but you’ve got it covered.

To build the pad toughness, start with short periods of exposure to such surfaces and gradually increase.

Damage and Injury: Underlying Health Conditions

Cracked paws are a stepping stone to immune diseases.

Hyperkeratosis is a condition of keratin overproduction in the skin. This causes added thickness and callous-like formation on the paw pads and the rest of the body. According to Dr. Margolin, roughness and cracks may signify, “Immune or metabolic diseases, or fungus or parasitic causes, and sometimes it’s strictly weather or genetic-related.”

A single symptom for a sea of potential illnesses, how do you single-out the illness?

Cracks and irritation may also appear on your dog’s face and ears, or other areas. This indicates the grave need for a biopsy, blood panel, and full chemistry, to attain a diagnosis.

Maintenance and Care

Your first line of defense is your part in the inspection.

If possible, make it a daily habit to spread their toes apart and examine the sides and bottom surface for visible injury and foreign objects. Survey for any swelling or discoloration. Without a doubt, take note of behavior pointing towards pain and discomfort.

You should definitely take booties into consideration, with recommended brands of Ultra Paws, Muttluks, and Kurgo.

But, what’s the take on home moisturizing and trimming?

After washing with warm water and antibacterial soap, apply a layer of balm or wax. This serves as a moisturizer to prevent drying, a barrier to repel foreign subjects, and shields from burning. Do not use any moisturizers or balms you can find at home, Pet Central deduced the top four products for you.

Keep the fur surrounding the paw pads short and neat. It prevents matting, or fur clumps, which is painful and increase nibbling. On top of ensuring traction, the trimming makes regular inspection easier for you.

The Takeaway

One of the most overlooked matters is dog paw pads. Neglecting the symptoms and causes will lead to a situation of “it’s too late.”

Research and discovery go a long way.

For your sake and your best friend’s, educate yourself with the effortless self-diagnosis, elementary treatment, and proficient prevention.

Consult with a veterinarian if symptoms persist or worsen. Put your dog first!