Sore Cracked Paws
One of the more common clinical complaints in small animal practice is sore, cracked paws. This frustrating condition can have many possible causes. Probably the most common cause is allergies in our pets. Allergies are commonly due to inhalant/contact allergens such as molds, grasses, trees, dust, dander and pollen, as well as food allergies to certain proteins and/or grains in the diet. Many pets with allergies will bite and lick their paw and toe areas, leading to secondary inflammation and infection.
During winter months, sore cracked paws may be the result of contact with sand and salt commonly used on icy sidewalks and roads. Sometimes external parasites such as ringworm or demodectic mange may cause sore, cracked paws. Hormonal problems of the thyroid and/or metabolic problems of the liver also may cause sore, cracked paws. Because of these possible underlying medical causes, any pet with sore, cracked paws should have a full medical evaluation by their veterinarian so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be implemented.
Finally, there are many pets with sore, cracked paws who may respond to dietary and/or nutritional therapies. I always recommend an all-natural diet, preferably a raw meat natural diet such as Primal or Nature’s Variety. Halo, PetGuard and Wysong are all wonderful natural commercial diets to offer, should feeding a raw meat diet not be possible. I have found supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids such as Be Well, as well as Nordic Naturals Omega-3, often to be very helpful when used long-term in these pets. Topical application of vitamin E gel or aloe vera gel a few times daily also can help soothe irritated paws and promote healing.