Sore Cracked Paws

Sore cracked paws is a common clinical complaint.

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.


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  2. (08-28-2012) About the wintertime salts on our pet’s paws/this may help. I agree their pads must be covered if you’ have your pet(s) on a sidewalk or road that could have salt on it as all salt for a walkway or street is not the same. You may want to try the following at your own home. Here’s my story. I had a couple of bad experiences over the last few years with my dogs on sidewalk salt. I’d bought “Ice-Melt” and another brand or two. (I don’t recall the latter names but they were no better.) These were purchased at Wal-Mart. I had to get my dogs off the sidewalk and put their paws in warm water then dry them off. You could tell walking in that salt was painful to them by their behavior and they did all they could to avoid walking there again. After another WalMart buy the following year and of a diff brand, I got hold of the store Mgr. as that buy was no better. It happened the Dist. Mgr was also there that day. I mixed no words telling them what you’re reading here as to their salts burned pet’s paws (dogs and cats). I told them straight-out that it melts ice but it burns our pets paws so you need to put such a warning sign up or get rid of it! (BTW, this is the salt that usually is stacked and displayed right when you come in or down that wide main aisle by checkouts,) I was told w/ apology they were unaware of this burning to pets paws. I told them I’ve been taking in abused, abandoned and neglected dogs for over (30) years and none of my live-ins (Pug, Golden Retriever, Border Collie, German Shepherd, black Lab nor my Chelshire Terrier-cross (the RCA Victor dog) will get close to the salts you’ve have for sidewalks – but Wal-Mart did something about it. The “OK” ice for my pet’s paws (no probs!) that got shipped into the stores was: ‘Morton Action * Melt Blend. Morton is in white letters, Action Melt is in red letters, and the word Blend is in blue letters. It’s a 25LB heavy duty plastic bag. The words ‘Fast Acting Ice Melter’ is in white on red, too. The Morton Gal insignia (holding an opened umbrella) is also on the sack. The sack’s UPC# at bttm right is (at least was) 0 24600 08018 7. No idea if they’ll stock it again. To me it’s worth looking for as it did the trick. If you do buy, best you buy only (1) bag, first, and try just a little bit for yourself and pets on whatever situation you have. Hope this helps. Pets are worth it! Good luck!

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  4. Here’s an ice remover for sidewalks that won’t burn pet’s paws and won’t refreeze. Mix 1 tsp dishwashing liquid, 1 Tbsp rubbing alcohol and 1/2 gallon warm or hot water, multiply as needed to cover your area and just pour it on.

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing……

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