How to Protect Dog Paws and PadsLast updated: February 07, 2022 by Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
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.
Understanding Dog Foot PadsThe 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 fissures between toes and on pads are very painful and best treated with Musher's Secret. Musher's Secret is made of natural waxes and forms a breathable bond with your dog's paws.
Bird DogsIf 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 Musher's Secret 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.
Athletes, Joggers and Sporting DogsExamine 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 pad 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.
House DogsHouse 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 Musher's Secret to heal the chemical damage without staining 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!
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Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.
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.