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How to Heal Your Dog’s Cracked Paws

You might remember to check for cracked paws during the winter months, but cracked paws and dry noses aren’t only curses of winter – they can actually happen any season.

When your dog’s feet hurt, they sadly can’t tell you. You’ll need to be intentional in reading your pup’s body language; examine your dog’s feet frequently, especially in extreme weather.


  • Limping or holding a paw off the ground
  • Shifting from leg to leg
  • Excessive licking of her paws
  • Swiping at her nose with her paw
  • Yelping
  • Barking, aggression or snapping
  • Unusual quietness for a dog that is usually vocal (or vice-versa)

Check carefully – maybe your dog stepped on something sharp or has a thorn or a stone embedded in their paws or stuck between their toes.


There are several reasons why your dog may have cracked paws, some more serious than others. Keep these conditions in mind when out and about with your dog during the year.

dog paws rugCracked Paws may be caused by:

Chemical Irritation: Especially in the winter, your dog is susceptible to chemical irritants that are used to melt snow and ice. Direct contact with certain chemicals can cause chemical burns. Other chemicals can cause diarrhea and vomiting if ingested; this happens when your dog licks their paws after encountering various fertilizers, household cleaners, or other such chemicals.

Exposure: Harsh temperatures and surfaces will also take their wear and tear on puppy paws. Ice and snow, rough and rocky surfaces can all cause damage to your pup’s feet. While your dog’s paw pads are more resistant than your own feet, they are still sensitive and need protection. Hot pavement or sand, icy sidewalks, and metal surfaces (hot or cold) can all cause irritation. Sometimes your pup can handle the snow or the hot sand for a little while, just ensure minimal exposure and use paw protection as much as possible.

Allergies: If your dog licks or bites at their paws excessively, it’s quite possible that they have an allergy. Allergies can be seasonal and stem from various forms of pollen or dust, but it is also possible that your dog has a food allergy. Ask your vet if you see this problem recurring.

Old Age: Older dogs tend to produce too much keratin which causes the skin and paw pads to crack; if you have a senior dog with hurting paws, ask your vet about hyperkeratosis.


Protecting your puppy’s paws is the first step to keeping them safe. You can easily find doggy boots or socks online with good grip on the bottoms. Your pup’s feet might be a little sensitive, but these winter boots were made for walking! These will be especially handy when it comes to keeping your dog’s tender paws away from the rock salt in winter.

If your dog refuses to wear the shoes – or the sight is too funny for you to stop laughing – try an easy solution like Musher’s Secret Paw Balm and Protectant. Just rub this magical protection between the paw pads to prevent “snowballing” – that is, when snow melts in your pup’s paws from their body heat only to reheat and form ice balls. These ice balls can grow larger and larger, getting stuck between the toes and stretching them apart; this can cause cracking, bleeding, and fur pulling. Musher’s can prevent all that pain and trouble! Use your Musher’s like a chapstick as well – just dab a bit on your pup’s nose and rub lightly to provide protection.

Check out our online store to stock up on Musher’s and be sure to browse the treat section for your good pup; after all, they deserve a treat! Read more about winterproofing your pet from our blog.

Any questions for us? Drop by or contact us today! We are here to promote your pet’s overall wellness no matter what season it is.