Have you seen your dog chewing on its paw? Do your dog’s paws look dry and cracked?  Dogs naturally have durable paw pads, however, these can crack like human heels. This can be very uncomfortable for your dog. 

Below we outline the step-by-step instructions for dealing with rough, dry, or cracked paw pads


Why Are My Dog’s Paws So Rough and Cracked?

There are many factors that could cause rough, cracked paws. These range from allergies to underlying health problems. Below we will discuss the most common…


1. Hot Pavement

In hot weather, try not to take your dog for a walk on the pavements because these can get extremely hot. A dog’s paws are sensitive and cannot withstand such heat. If you are unsure do a temperature check by placing the palm of your hand on the ground for a few seconds.

2. Wintery Conditions

Similarly, extremely cold weather also causes the paw pads to dry out. If your dog stays in the snow for too long, his paw pads can become irritated and cracked.

3. Allergic Reactions

Dogs are allergic to many things, just like humans. Basically, they are more exposed to irritants due to their bare feet. You might not believe it, but food allergies can also cause an allergic reaction in the paws.

These allergic reactions can cause your dog to nibble and chew his paws. 

4. Chemical Irritations

There are certain chemicals that are can be irritating to your dog’s paws. For example, the salt that is used to melt ice in winter. Similarly, fertilizer in your yard or asphalt on a newly built road can irritate your dog’s paws.

Not only that… your dog may also be sensitive to household cleaners, especially those used to clean carpets and floors.

5. Yeast Infection

Yeast infections are very common in dogs. These typically affect a dog’s paws, ears, skin folds as well as other moist areas of the body. Find out more here>>


Underlying Health Problems 

There are a number of health problems that can cause rough, dry, and cracked dog paws. The main ones are Hyperkeratosis, Dermatological, and Liver Conditions



Cracked dog paws can also occur due to a problem called Hyperkeratosis. With Hyperkeratosis, the skin on the pads thickens and cracks. This problem occurs due to metabolic or immune diseases, parasitic or fungal causes, and sometimes weather conditions.

Dermatological and Liver Conditions

If the paw pads are cracked and do not heal, this may be due to certain dermatological and liver conditions. Most of the time, these conditions look almost similar so a biopsy will be needed to confirm a diagnosis.


If dryness, roughness, and irritation continue on other parts of the body along with the paw pads, this issue should be addressed by your vet. If your vet finds any underlying problems, they will recommend a complete blood test.

These blood tests will indicate the status of the liver, kidneys, and thyroid. Treatment will be prescribed according to the test result.


Signs and Symptoms

cracked paws

If you notice your dog limping are having discomfort walk you should perform the following checks

    • Lift the leg and check for small lines or cracks on the paw pads.
    • Look in open cracks for signs of bleeding and infection.
    • Check the paw pads for any protruding lesions, Hot Spots, Sores, or Cysts.


How Do You Soften a Dog’s Paws?

Treatment generally depends on the severity of the condition. If there is only a minor cracking or dryness then you invest in a dog paw balm. Alternately you could follow some of the following home remedies …


What is The Best Paw Balm for Dogs?

Click here to see a review of the Top 5 Best Paw Moisturizers.


Home Remedies 

The following home remedies will help soothe rough and cracked Dog Paws

Shea Butter

It is one of the popular ingredients which has good moisturizing properties. This is basically full of nut fats that can soothe rough and chapped paws. It is also not toxic, so if your dog licks it, it won’t do them any harm.


Calendula is an herb most famous for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It usually comes in gel form and is commonly found in soothing ointments.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another natural and safe product for dry and rough dog paws. Coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial, and moisturizing properties that make it one of the best home treatments. The only problem is preventing your dog from licking it off.

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids have multiple benefits that can soothe inflammation, relieve allergies, and help restore the natural texture of the dog’s skin and provide excellent paw relief. However, you should always consult your vet before mixing it into your dog’s diet.



By following some precautionary measures, you can prevent your dog’s paw pads from becoming dried out in the first place. If the temperature is extreme outside, try putting dog shoes on your dog. They can protect them from really hot and cold weather.

In winter, try to stay away from areas that are covered in salt and clean your dog’s paws when they enter the house.

If you think dry, rough pads are due to any allergens in their diet, consult your vet for dietary changes.


Frequently asked Questions

Should Dog Paw Pads be Rough?

Healthy paw pads should ideally be smooth when touched and free of any abrasions, but that might not be possible here. Harsh chemicals, hot surfaces, and rough terrain can lead to dry or cracked pads.

Areas of alopecia and firm, thickened, callus-like skin with numerous comedones are common. (Merk Veterinary Manual).


What Can I Put On My Dog’s Rough Paws?

You can usually use a paw ‘balm or butter’ made from organic (because the dog will lick and ingest it) cream to moisturize those paws. This, for example, is a good product.

If your dog has potentially infected puss-filled nodules on his feet, you don’t want him licking these up (he’ll probably be wearing an E-collar or cone). 

Many veterinarians advise rubbing vitamin-E cream into the pads.


Can I Use Vaseline On My Dog’s Paws?

Vaseline is fine for humans and should be fine for your dog, as long as he doesn’t lick up too much of it. If you’re constantly putting Vaseline on those paws whenever he comes inside, you could have a possible problem. 

Vaseline is safe for the skin, but shouldn’t end up in the stomach. You should assume anything you put on those pads will end up in your dog’s stomach, or a portion of it. It’s ok if your dog licks at the Vaseline once in a while, but consider using an E-collar (cone) if you use it regularly.


Do You Need to Moisturize a Dog’s Paws?

You don’t always ‘need to’ moisturize a dog’s paws, but it is a good idea during the winter (or in general). The ideal healthy paws of a healthy dog will remain debris-free and healthy throughout most of the animal’s life, but that is in the perfect world that doesn’t exist.

Domesticated dogs live in our human world though, full of man-made chemicals, leaked fluids from vehicles, road salt, etc. Their paws didn’t evolve to be constantly walking on these things. It’s especially important to make sure these paw pads remain healthy now!


Can You Use Human Lotion On a Dog’s Paws?

Again, nothing should be used that could cause harm when ingested. Humans don’t expect other humans to lick the lotion from their faces or hands because it just causes our skin to dry up, so these products are made with that in mind.

Human skincare products aren’t made with animals in mind. In some cases, your organic skincare lotions might be ok to use, but only after you’ve verified each individual ingredient.


Can I Wash My Dog’s Paws Every Day?

Frequent washing will remove the natural oils secreted on your dog’s skin and cause it to dry out. The ASPCA recommends weekly cleanings, but there aren’t very many solid rules for daily washing.

It would be better if you placed your dog in an environment or situation where you didn’t need to worry about washing them daily.

Consider investing in dog booties! These aren’t just a ‘fad’, and you’ll have a hard time finding a long-distance dog musher that doesn’t use them. Dog booties will protect those feet from outside irritants.

If your dog has Interdigital furuncles or another type of paw related condition- like excess skin producing overly thick and tender paws, or any open injury, he might either limp or refuse to walk on the limb. If your dog is presenting with lameness, you need to get off the internet and contact a veterinarian’s office (or stay on the internet, but contact your vet).


What You Should Do

You can check these paws on a regular basis, daily, or every time your pup comes inside! Check for any rocks, road salt, or anything else stuck between the pads. De-icing salt can quickly dry out those pads and cause further injury if it does get stuck in there.



Dog paw pads are extremely sensitive and can become rough and cracked due to a variety of reasons. By following simple precautions, you can protect your dog’s paws from cracks and injuries.


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