How to Prevent and Treat Cracked Paws in Dogs: The Role of Paw Balm and Other Remedies

If you are a dog owner, you know how important it is to take care of your furry friend’s paws. Paws are the foundation of your dog’s mobility and comfort, and they need regular attention and grooming to stay healthy and happy. That’s why it is essential to prevent and treat cracked paws in dogs as soon as possible.

In this blog, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of cracked paws in dogs, and how you can use paw balm and other remedies to heal and protect your dog’s paws. 

Why are cracked paws a problem for dogs?

Cracked paws are a common issue for dogs that can cause significant pain, discomfort, and other health problems if left untreated. A dog’s paw pads are made up of fat and connective tissue with sensitive nerve endings underneath. When the paw pads become excessively dry, irritated, or damaged from factors like hot pavement, cold weather, or rocky/rough terrain, painful cracks or fissures can develop.

Cracked paws are not only uncomfortable for dogs, but the open wounds provide opportunities for infection to set in. Bacteria and germs can enter through the cracked skin and cause redness, swelling, oozing, and further pain. In severe cases, cracked paws that become infected can lead to limping, licking/chewing at the paws, and dog not wanting to walk at all.

Allowing a dog’s cracked paws to worsen untreated can result in more severe health issues down the road. Cracked paw pads that deepen over time can expose deeper tissue layers, impacting joints, bones, and ligaments. This can be severely painful and debilitating, especially in more active or elderly dogs. 

Using the best paw balm for dogs can help repair and nourish paws to maintain good health and mobility. Keeping a dog’s paws repaired and nourished is an essential part of maintaining their health and mobility.

Causes of Cracked Paws

There are several potential causes and risk factors that can contribute to dogs developing cracked paws:

  • Hot pavement or surfaces – Contact with extremely hot ground like asphalt can quickly cause burning, blistering, and cracking of paw pads.
  • Prolonged cold weather exposure – Frigid, icy conditions can cause dry, cracked skin on paws. The ice melts and moisture is wicked away.
  • Overly coarse or abrasive terrain – Rocks, gravel roads, salted sidewalks, etc can wear down pads over time.
  • Obesity or pressure on paw joints – Excess weight stresses paw joints and reduces circulation.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Diets deficient in fatty acids, vitamins or nutrients can lead to dry, irritated skin.
  • Environmental allergies – Allergic reactions to pollen or other triggers can cause inflamed paws.
  • Health issues like infections or endocrine disorders – Certain illnesses can disrupt healthy paw tissue function.

No matter the initial cause of cracked paws, once fissures have formed small injuries are likely to persist and worsen without proper care and treatment.

Symptoms of Cracked Paws

Some of the most common symptoms that indicate a dog has developed cracked, painful paws include:

  • Limping or holding paws up while walking
  • Sudden yelping or signs of pain when feet are touched
  • Visible cuts, pads lifting at edges, redness between the toes
  • Swelling or discharge of fluid from the paw pads
  • Blisters from burns, especially on areas contacting hot ground
  • Paw pads thicker and harder from callusing
  • Chewing, licking or biting at paws frequently
  • Avoiding walks, playtime or other normal movement

Owners may also notice indirect signs like changes in temperament or appetite as a result of constant paw discomfort. Catching cracked pads early allows quicker healing, so inspecting a dog’s paws routinely can help prevent small fissures from transforming into deep, infected wounds needing veterinary intervention down the road.

Prevention of Cracked Paws

While it’s not always possible to prevent cracked paws entirely, there are ways owners can proactively protect their dog’s paw health:

  • Avoid prolonged outdoor time on hot pavement or ice
  • Gradually expose paws to hot/cold temps to adapt skin
  • Rinse off paws after contact with deicers, lawn chemicals
  • Keep paws clean/dry to prevent bacterial infections
  • Massage moisturizing products into paws before and after walks
  • Invest in paw wax/balm to create protective layer
  • Have your dog wear booties to shield paws outdoors
  • Ensure diet includes minerals/fatty acids for skin health
  • Control conditions causing inflammation like allergies
  • Discourage excessive licking behavior
  • Schedule regular vet checkups to monitor paw condition
  • A bit of prevention goes a long way to spare dogs avoidable pain and create good lifelong habits to nurture healthy paw pads from the start.

Treatment of Cracked Paws

Several at-home remedies exist to help soothe and heal cracked dog paws:

  • Hot Spot Sprays/Gels – Medicated topical treatments are available to help cool, numb and heal cracked pads. These provide antiseptic benefits to prevent infection in wounds. Brands like Vetericyn are dog-safe.
  • Paw Balms/Waxes – Natural moisturizing products infused with oils, butters and waxes help replenish dried pads and create a protective barrier layer from outside irritants during the healing process. Popular options are Musher’s Secret and Bag Balm.
  • Antibiotic Ointments – For infected cracks that have become moist, swollen and oozing, antibiotic creams containing Bacitracin can eradicate bacterial overgrowth keeping the wound from worsening.
  • Epsom Salt Soaks – A warm foot soak with Epsom salts helps draw out inflammation, cleanses cracks, and softens thick callused paw pads to aid healing. Oatmeal or chamomile can also be soothing additions.
  • Bandaging Wraps – For severe pad injuries, breathable bandage wrapping over antibiotic ointment and padding cushions cracks from further damage while also keeping dirt out. Help prevent licking or chewing at bandaged paws with an e-collar if necessary.

The Role of Paw Balm

Paw balm is a nourishing moisturizer for dog feet that helps repair cracked pads and prevent dryness. Natural formulations are thicker than lotions to create a protective barrier that seals in moisture and allows healing. Main ingredients usually include:

  • Beeswax/lanolin lock in moisture and provide a wax film barrier.
  • Shea/cocoa butters are plant oils that deeply hydrate and smooth cracks.
  • Essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus have antiseptic properties to prevent infection inside wounds alongside skin calming benefits.
  • Vitamin E repairs damage and encourages new tissue growth.

When applied before and after outdoor time, balms coat the paw pads allowing moisture to penetrate while also preventing new cracks. The wax barrier insulates sensitive pads from hot and cold extremes. As cracked paw pads heal underneath the protected layer, skin tissues regenerate and eventually emerge smoother, stronger and more damage resistant overall.

Other Remedies for Cracked Paws

In addition to commercial paw products and ointments, some homemade concoctions using common household items can also aid cracked paw treatment:

  • Honey – Has natural antimicrobial properties to prevent infection in cracks alongside soothing benefits.
  • Coconut oil – Softens hard, callused pads and forms a protective moisture barrier like waxes do.
  • Petroleum jelly – Seals in moisture and creates a cushion layer for cracked pads.
  • Aloe vera gel – Heals damaged skin cells while also reducing inflammation and swelling.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Soothes and tightens irritated tissues, keeps yeast and bacteria growth in check.

Always monitor your dog’s reaction when trying new homemade mixes. And if cracks worsen or don’t improve within a few days, veterinary assistance may be required to assess for secondary issues like infections or autoimmune conditions.


Cracked paws are not only excruciatingly uncomfortable for dogs, but leave them vulnerable to infections and mobility issues that can impact their quality of life. Checking pads routinely and addressing dryness or damage early with moisturizers and protective wax balms can help prevent small cracks from transforming into severely painful health problems requiring extensive treatment down the road. 

Through diligent proactive care along with recognizing signs of discomfort in your dog, cracked pads can often be managed conservatively at home to heal while keeping your best friend healthy and happily moving.

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