Dog Paw Pad Peeling: A Quick Guide for New Pet Owners

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Dog Paw Pad Peeling

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Dog’s paws are one of the most functional parts of a canine’s body. Essentially, your Fido steps on his paws during walks and runs. As he runs around, the paws support his weight, offer traction during sudden turns, and act as efficient shock absorbers when he is super active.

Sadly, the skin on the paws is very weak and thus prone to a lot of injuries including peeling. If you have noticed your pooch’s dog paw coming off, don’t panic, it is a common occurrence but one that needs intervention.

In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about dog paw pad feeling and what you can do about it.

What Are The Causes, What Does It Mean?

First things first, let’s look at the reason for dog paw pads cracked peeling.

1. Exposure to the elements

In most instances, dogs don’t get to put on shoes when taking walks as we do. This means their bare paws must brave in the heat and cold.

Sure, the pads come with a ton of safety features to keep them in optimal shape for the most part. However, when exposed to extreme conditions like snow or sweltering heat, the pads are likely to crack (much like how we get cracked lips during winter).

Ice can give off chemicals that affect a dog’s paws negatively while the heat causes burns.

2. Injuries

Even under normal weather conditions, a dog can suffer cracked paw pads because of physical trauma. He may accidentally step on a sharp object like a piece of glass or gravel that may cause an injury.

3. Allergies

Another reason your Fido has peeled paws is an allergic reaction. Some dogs react to certain environmental conditions or food by having itchy feet.

To relieve the itch, they will lick and scratch the area incessantly, causing it to peel.

4. Diseases

Apart from allergies, your dog’s paw pad may get ripped off because of certain diseases. The most common ones include liver disease, hard pad disease, zinc deficiency, and pemphigus.

What to Look Out For

Depending on the cause of the dog ripped paw pad, your pup will display different symptoms. While some are obvious, some are laid back. You have to be keen to notice that your canine friend needs help.

Unsurprisingly, the most common symptom of peeling paws is actual skin coming out of the paws.

When cleaning your pup, you might see loose skin that looks somewhat like a blister or has a raw look to it. This is often the starting point. This then graduates to cracking or wounds mostly because your pup will lick and scratch the spot. As he does that, the area may even become bloody.

Limping on one of his feet may also indicate physical trauma on the paw pads as does itching.

Is My Dog’s Peeled Paw Pad Infected?

The only way you can tell whether your dog’s paws are infected or not is by developing a habit of checking him regularly.

Bacteria and fungi living on the paw may outgrow and cause some sort of infection. Ringworm and yeast are especially notorious for getting out of control around the paw area.

Paw infection symptoms come in many different shapes and forms. When you see general swelling on his toe or paw, this might signify an infection.

Other symptoms include discharge or puss coming out of the paw. This is among the most obvious signs of paw infections. Other times, the paw may emit a foul smell, become unusually red, and perhaps have a brown discoloration to it.

Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to really tell an infection from non-infection. That is the work of a vet.

The minute you notice some of these symptoms, your best bet is to call your vet to take a look at your canine buddy. They have the tools to carry out a physical exam and get to the root of the problem.

How Is Dog Paw Peeling Treated?

There are a number of medical solutions for dog paw pad peeling. When you bring your dog to the vet, they will take a tiny bit of the skin on the affected area and run some blood tests on it.

Sometimes, the vet will have an x-ray of him taken if the infection is severe. After doing tests, they will recommend the best treatment strategy.

Oftentimes, the vet will thoroughly and professionally clean the infected area and bandage it. They may then ask you to change the dressing daily and recommend topical treatments to be applied on a continued basis.

The bandage prevents your pup from licking his wound incessantly. Albeit rare, the vet may put a collar on the dog to keep him from disturbing his paw pads.

Are There Home Remedies For Dog Paw Peeling?

While calling the vet is always a smart move when your dog has peeled paw pads, you can take matters into your own hands. If the extent of the problem is not severe, don’t be afraid to treat the issue by yourself.

Some first aid tips to keep in mind include the following:

I. Clean the Wound

The first order of business should be to inspect the area and clean it thoroughly.

Look closely and establish whether it has debris such as sharp objects in the wound. If present, find a way to get rid of it.

Carefully clean the paw pads using clean water. For better results, swish the entire paw in the water to remove any debris lodged in the paw.

II. Bandage the Paw Pad

Sure, the vet knows how to wrap a dog’s paw but you can do it too.

If your dog is bleeding, you may want to do first aid on him to stop the bleeding before he reaches the vet’s office.

After cleaning, use a bandage to apply some pressure on the area. Use your palm for added pressure until the bleeding has stopped completely.

Securely wrap the bandage around the pads and the whole foot.

Grab a self-adhering tape and also wrap it around the leg. Don’t worry; the tape will not pull his hair.

Also, be sure to change the dressing every day and clean the paw until it is healed.

III. Apply a Topical Treatment

There are topical ointments proven to prevent and treat infections. If you have one at home, feel free to use it on your pup. Keep only a single layer at a time.

IV. Don’t Peel

Remember how tempting it is to pull dead skin from chapped lips? Peeling cracked paw pads have the same effect pulling dead skin has on our lips!

However, peeling dog paws will only make the situation worse not to mention encourage your pup to peel as well.

What Should You Do? (Prevention Strategies)

While not all instances of cracked paw pads in dogs are preventable, you can bring the likelihood down through a few prevention strategies. These include the following:

A. Use Balms

If your pup spends a lot of time outdoors, consider getting a paw pad balm or wax. 

A balm offers moisturizing benefits thereby preventing a number of issues including flaking, cracking, and peeling in the paws.

Apply it every time you go out in adverse weather conditions.

B. Booties

Not all dogs feel comfortable wearing booties but those that do really benefit from them. Booties are the ultimate protective gear for dog paws.

Some are designed for the hot weather and others for the cold weather.

Choose one depending on your situation. If your pup has cracked paws already, be sure to use both booties and the palm alongside each other.

C. Dry Your Dog’s Paws after Walks

After taking a walk outside (especially during rainy or wet conditions), you might want to make sure they are dry before he steps into the house.

By doing this, you will get rid of moisture and most importantly, chemicals/slat that might cause peeling.

Will a Dog’s Pad Heal On Its Own?

Yes and no. If the paw pads are not severely injured, the problem may go away on its own. All you have to do is clean and bandage the area to protect it.

However, if it is severely injured or infected, it will certainly require medical intervention.

As usual, it is better to err on the side of caution. Even if you can’t afford to take your pup to the vet, at least make a call and have them give you the best counsel.

Can I Put Neosporin on My Dog’s Paw?

Yes. Neosporin ingredients are dog-safe. Applying a small amount of your dog’s paws will not be harmful. You don’t want to use a large amount as your pup will likely lick some of it off.

Having said that, some dogs are allergic to Neosporin. If yours develops an allergic response, stop using it.

Can I Put Vaseline On My Dog’s Peeling Paws?

Yes. Just like a balm, Vaseline will moisturize your pup and prevent/treat peeling and cracking. Again, your dog will likely lick it off of his paws so keep the amount minimal.

Final Thoughts

There it is; a quick overview of the basics you need to know about dog paw pad peeling and what you can do about it.

Essentially, you have a number of preventive and first aid strategies you can administer. If the situation is dire, always call the vet for their expert opinion.

Sources

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pemphigus-in-dogs

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-care-your-dogs-cracked-and-dry-paws

https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-properly-care-for-your-dogs-paw-pads

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3103292/

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/first-aid-for-torn-or-injured-foot-pads-in-dogs

https://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/your-dogs-health/caring-for-your-dog/keeping-dogs-paws-healthy.html

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/paw-care-tips-dogs

https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/news/protect-your-dogs-paws-winter-weather

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.