Paw and Pad Care
The other day a client and I were talking at the local grocery store. She asked if she could pose a question to be answered in my articles published in the paper. I love it when people give me topics, or ask questions that can become the topic of writing. I know I am addressing what concerns you – local pet owners who care about your pet.
So the question – “What can I put on my dog’s pads to help decrease cracking and dryness that would be safe if he licks at it?”
This is an excellent question not only about paw care but it also points out the acknowledgement that pets will lick off medications and that may lead to problems. Licking the paws or other parts of the body is a normal grooming behavior of dogs, cats and others animals. When a salve is put on the body, this may prompt the pet to lick more because they sense that something is there. Salves and creams can be useful for treatment yet we have to be mindful of all that is in these products to avoid problems when they are licked.
If your dog or cat has very dry, cracked or even bleeding around the pads have a checkup. This is not normal, and even in aging pets may indicate that their protein levels are low or they lack essential fatty acids in the skin. The reasons for that often lie deeper in how they are digesting their food, how the liver or kidneys are working or even perhaps early diabetes.
If the pads are just mildly dry, you can try these suggestions. Fast absorbing heavily penetrating type emollient moisturizing creams can be helpful when massaged into the pads. Vaseline petroleum jelly is very safe and when well massaged into the pads will also stand up to licking and wear. One has to use this perhaps 2-3 times a week for a few weeks to see if there is improvement. Olive oil would be helpful also if the dog or cat does not walk on concrete much. Some Vitamin supplements such as fish oil or flax seed can also help but consult your veterinarian before starting to use these for proper dosage. Do not use any cortisone cream, tea tree oil, or other herbal products especially in cats!!!!! Herbal does not mean totally safe. When eaten the body absorbs much more of the herbal product which can over load the liver or other organs to detoxify them. Veterinarians are here to help, and you may cause problems which will harm your pet and cost a lot more money that a checkup and good advice.
Many pets resist handling the feet so you need to make massaging the paws nice for them with every step of handling the feet. Get their favorite treat that they will only get for feet handling. Break that treat into the size of half of a cheerio and feed them tidbits as you touch the paw, pick the paw up and rub the top. Stop there. Give this reward based training a couple of days to help the dog or cat learn paw handling means yummies. As the pet is not struggling then apply a small amount to the pad and massage. Only treat a pad or 2 at a time. It is better to break up the treatment into a couple of times an avoid struggles than to fight at all with your pet. You possibly be doing this regularly so it has to be calm and nice for your pet.
I hope this helps answer one common pet care question. I welcome any that you may have. Please email questions to email@example.com, mail them into my office at 140 W. Sale Street Tuscola, IL 61953 or call us at 217-253-3221. I love to hear from you!
- written by Dr. Sally Foote