From Hobo the Bearded Collie
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Cracked skin on Paws and nose during Winter.
Dry or cracked paws and even chapped skin around the nose and mouth can be problems for dogs.  This can happen in the winter or summer.  The obvious problem in the winter is snow or ice.  And in summer, walks on hot pavement (asphault or even cement) can burn or blister the feet.

In cold weather,  paws are often swollen and irritated. and the skin can become red and inflamed between the toes.   You may even see your dog limping as this can be very painful. Cracked, sore pads are also a problem.

One obvious preventative measure you can take to protect your dog's paws is to purchase dog booties.  Most online pet supplies carry these products.  But if you have the oportunity to have them custom fitted you will have a better chance that they will stay on.  For example, in the winter, if your dog is our in the yard in deep snow, the snow might actually cause the boot to be pulled off and be lost in the snow.probles with boots that are too large include loss of traction on slippery surfaces or allowing snow to enter at the top.  Too small and they can cut off circulation.  Remember to check the fit of the boot often and also check for holes and wear.

There are products that are like oinments that can be applied to the feet both for protection and to help them heal:

Simple, but a little messy for the feet is – plain old vasoline.  This would help keep snow oand ice from building up in the paw area - and help prevent moisture loss from the skin - but would not protect from burns or frostbite. 

Much better and doesn’t seem to pick up stones and things is Musher's Secret.  It's an oil/wax mixture that sticks really well to the paws even in the wet grit.  Available from most catalog places, some feed stores, etc.  Other brands are  “Protecta-Pad” for dry pad’s and elbows, and Paw Protecting Balm (this last one from Martha Stewart)– but we don’t have any experience with these.  The Musher’s is the most commonly used – even for dogs when they are herding.  We have heard of people putting cortisone type ointments on the pads, in the cracks, but then you need to put a sock or something over it because you can not lick this area – takes about 3 days to heal.  We would try the other above products first – especially the Musher’s as it is completely non toxic.

For the chapped nose, we have used human brands (like chapstick and lipbalm) and have some sucess.

Be sure to read "Ice in My Paws" as Salt used for deicing may also be a cause of dry cracked paws. In this case, washing the feet regularly and drying them is advised. More winter advice is found in the article "Winter DOG Safety Tips"

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