Protecting Your Dog's Paws and Pads

For dogs, healthy feet are important to their well-being. Cold weather and rough surfaces cause issues with peeling pads and cracks and fissures between the toes. These fissures and cracks hurt and will cause dogs to be lame or limp hard on rocky surfaces.


The footpad is actually a huge, thick callus that heals quickly with care. If we could make a dog stay off of his feet for a week, we could heal a pad injury in no time. The reality is… dogs do not stay off their feet; therefore, prevention is essential. Any limp should be examined and watched closely in winter. Cracks or fishers between toes and on pads are very painful and best treated with Doc Roy's® Rescue Derm. Rescue Derm is made of Amazon oils, but it is non-oily after application so it won’t stain your carpets! Rescue Derm works fast on winter cracks on your own hands as well.


If there's one animal that likes hunting more than humans, it's a bird dog! A good bird dog can hunt vigorously while simultaneously enduring considerable pain - a pointer who loves hunting will literally “hunt his pads off” if you're not careful. The biggest reason for torn up pads in hunting dogs is rough, rocky country. If your training ground fits the rocky description, maintaining your dog's pads will be critical. Using Rescue Derm as a pre-hunting treatment will help toughen pads. However, don’t overdo the hard surface, roadway conditioning because we want to avoid joint trauma and arthritis.


Examine their feet regularly and if the pads are showing wear, apply a thin coat of super glue with your finger to the pad surface. For more advanced abrasions, apply moleskin to the glued surface for extra padding, then boot the dog. Boots are beneficial, but read the directions first. Most boots are designed to go over wraps and if they're applied over bare feet, they won’t stay on and will rub, causing abrasion. The dressing technique is super glue, moleskin, wrap and boot—this should keep you hunting without issue.

Oral glucosamine and chondroitin, such as Doc Roy’s® Aches Away, is used to increase the joint fluid, easing fatigue and trauma. Decreasing fatigue allows correct pad and joint system placement, improving absorption of the concussion and trauma of running. Pain-free running will keep the athlete placing their feet flat and correctly on the pad. Limping wears the par edges or rolls pad off of tissue, causing more pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin need 30 days to fully take effect, so start early enough that they can benefit from the protection.

Prevention from the inside out is also important — use fatty acids with a balance of Omega 3 and 6, such as Doc Roy's® Derma Coat Plus soft chews, to help maintain pliability of pad. Doc Roy's® Tri Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects that are helpful to the older athlete or limping dog. Running on Tri Omega-3 is especially helpful for sled dogs, older hunting dogs, rough-terrain hunting dogs and weekend hunters.


House dogs' pad soreness has another set of issues: salt and chemical snow melts. The ice melts dry out the pad, causing cracking and licking. Washing your dog's feet help but the drying has already started. Replace the moisture with Rescue Derm to heal the chemical damage. Rescue Derm gives relief with the first treatment, and it doesn't stain your furniture.

Stay ahead of the soreness before it affects performance and normal activity, whether it is aggressive hunting or jogging. By keeping your dog's feet and pads protected, you can ensure your dog's comfort throughout the winter months - and that's a win for both owner and athlete!

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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