Paws Care

Identifying skin infections

Typical symptom of skin infections is red, warm and itchy skin. Wide variety of microbes can cause skin infection. These microbes can be bacteria, virus, yeast, fungus or mold. Even parasites can be causative agents in skin infections. Infection caused by microbes is managed with antimicrobic treatment. Different antimicrobic substances are effective for different microbes. To identify the correct antimicrobic substance, we recommend taking a   sample from the infection site to be cultivated for diagnostic use. The information on antibiotic specificity helps to choose effective product for the infection. The treatment can be local/topical and/or systemic. An example of systemic treatment  as an  oral antimicrobic treatment  is antibiotics or sulfa.

Povidone iodine, hexetidine, miconazole nitrate and chlorhexetidine are typical synthetic antimicrobic compounds, which destroy wide range of various microbes. There are shampoos and lotions based on these compounds. These compounds can cause skin irritation. Many natural compounds e.g. pure essential oils: lavender, mint, lemongrass, thyme, oregano and many others have antimicrobic properties.

Early diagnosis leads to better treatment outcome. Early diagnosed infections can often be treated at home with topical treatment. The aim of the topical treatment is to clear the area of infection (disinfect). Treatment consists of washing the area off from microbes and applying antimicrobic lotion.

The frequency of the treatment is dependent of the severity and the grade of the infection. How successful this treatment is depends on the effectiveness of the compound on the causative, infective microbe. Some microbe strains are resistant to common antimicrobic compounds. Antimicrobic treatment should not be interrupted too early, as it could worsen the infection and make the microbes resistant to antimicrobic treatment. Mixing or using various products only few days to treat the infection can have similar effect. Thick and greasy products should be avoided as they accumulate dirt on the infection.

Challenges of infections

Every infection is it’s own independent disease , even though they can look alike. Typical skin infection in horses is mud fever and in dogs paw infections and hotspots. In spite of the same disease name, the various animals can require different treatment for their hotspot/mud fever infection, depending on the causative microbe.

The infection can invade deeper skin layers, which can be seen as secretion of pus. These infections are usually very painful to the animals. Supportive local treatment can be applied in deeper infections of furunculosis ( “paw infection”) and hotspots. Horses’ mud fever if not treated, can invade the deeper skin layers. Shaving off the hair has been considered helpful in these deeper infections. If the skin infection is wide spread or intensive, the veterinarian will always need to evaluate the need for systemic antimicrobic medication. Localised infections can be treated locally unless they turn into a systematic infection. Localised treatment cannot effectively treat an area it does not reach.

Skin infections can become chronic problem. Local symptoms are treated locally and systemic systemically. Underlying allergy is often found in chronic skin infection, which exposes animal to infections. Thus possible allergy should be investigated and treated properly. The problem in animal’s chronic infections is the continuity. The successful treatment of the animal’s infection requires commitment of the care giver to the daily treatment till the infection is cured. Cats and dogs are usually easier to care for as they usually live in the same household than the caregiver. Horse owners will often need to arrange more care givers in order to provide daily treatment.

Veterinarian is the best person to analyse the comprehensive clinical situation and define the right treatment.

SOLHEDS natural products in paw care

Occasionally dogs and cats will need additional care with their paws. Especially puppies and kittens will need extra care until their paws harden. In wintertime, mud, gravel, sand and salt on the roads provide challenges for animal paws as they can become dry and cracked. Same applies to animals who don’t have productive fur coat on their stomach. Dirty skin is more prone to skin damage. In “city dogs”, it is good practice to wash off salt and pitch from the paw pads and stomach. Same applies to “country dogs” , please  wash off mud and dirt. Plain water is not enough to wash paw pads effectively and to get rid of salt and pitch properly. 

Dogs are only able to sweat from their paws, so it is important not to use thick and greasy ointments that might  block the skin on their paws. Panting and sweating from paws is an important part of dogs’ temperature control. Check your dog’s paws weekly and during active working season daily. In your dog’s usual paw care, such as moisturising dry paw pads, use simple moisturiser such as Derma 10 Heel Balm.  Products targeting specific conditions with effective and highly concentrated essential oils, tar or resin, are for problem care. Do not use unnecessarily.


Wash of the paw pads

To avoid irritation , use diluted Derma4 Gentle Shampoo wash at least once a week to  wash paws and stomach. Salt and pitch dries paw pads, which can eventually cause cracks.Take care of the paw pads preventively to avoid cracked paw pads. 

Prevention of the paw pad problems

Prevention is always easier than treating cracks and dry skin. For preventative care, moisturising and fatty acid containing Derma9 Luxury Shine & Care is recommended in paw pad problems. Its fatty acids will absorb quickly and it won’t stain floor inside the house. Clean paws when returning from walks to indoors, and spray with Derma9 1-2 times a day on dry paws. Derma9 Luxury Shine & Care can be used  on hairless stomach, leaving protective shield against dirt while moisturising skin. Same care is suitable in summer time for paw pads dried out in hot asphalt.

Care of the paws in winter and  in excessive activity

Long haired animals gather dirt and snow in their paws.  Trimming the long hair can help to keep the paws clean and healthy. Derma9 Luxury Shine & Care can be used  on hair, leaving protective shield against snow.  Use Derma9 spray to reduce formation of snowballs on hair. Spray or apply with hands on stomach, paw and all longer and softer hair. Application of Derma9 facilitates taking off snowballs from hair. Use 1-2 times a day, more often  if the snow is heavy and wet. Working dogs eg. Hunting, agility and sled dogs could benefit from mechanic protection in their paw pads e.g. boots. Derma10 Heel Balm is a water free cream, which protects the paw pads in excessive activity (hunting, agility) and against cold and snow. Some of the dogs might like Derma10 Heel Balm and may lick it. This is not harmful. Derma10 Heel Balm absorbs well and it helps to renew the damage skin in paw pads. Apply Derma10 Heel Balm before the activity and in the evening. Manage and check the paws of a working dogs regularly. In hot and cold weather conditions same applies to all dogs.

Take care of the pads in time, before the paw pads start cracking.

Cracked paw pads

Open cuts in the skin/paw pads is a risk for infection. On open cracks we recommend Derma6 Wound Oil to manage the infection risk and to apply Derma10 Heel Balm on surrounding area. Cuts and cracks in paw pads can be treated also with Derma5 Germ Fighting Cream, it naturally fights harmful bacteria in these wounds.

As dogs sweat only from their paws, it is important not to block their skin with thick grease ointments. Check  your dog’s paws weekly and during active working season daily.

More information on cuts, cracks and care of allergic or inflammed skin  (yeast infection) can be found in the section for skin problems.