Have you ever noticed that your dog’s nose seems excessively hard or crusty? Or maybe you have noticed that your dog’s paw pads seem unusually sensitive or have a hard crust. If you have noticed these symptoms, Hyperkeratosis in dogs may be present.
Hyperkeratosis can have several causes. Some dog breeds like retrievers and terriers, are prone to this condition genetically. Other causes can be serious medical illnesses like Distemper or Leishmaniasis, which is a parasitic infection.
Both Distemper and Leishmaniasis can be cured if they are caught early. Your dog should start getting Distemper vaccinations as a puppy which can prevent this problem.
Unfortunately there is no cure for Hyperkeratosis in dogs. The best you can do for your pet is to try to manage the condition and make your dog comfortable. Hyperkeratosis in dogs can be uncomfortable, but it’s not life threatening.
So what exactly is it?
We'll discuss what this condition is and how to manage it. This article also includes some quick tips for preventing Hyperkeratosis in dogs. If you've got a breed that is more susceptible to this condition than others, prevention is going to be key.
Hyperkeratosis in Dogs
6 ways to prevent it and treat it
What is Hyperkeratosis in Dogs?
Your dog’s body naturally makes keratin. Keratin is a protein that makes up the outer coating of the skin. It’s very hard and fibrous. Hyperkeratosis is a condition where your dog’s body makes too much keratin.
If left untreated your dog might find it very painful to walk, eventually.
That keratin grows and grows and forms a hard crusty shell on your dog’s nose and paw pads. When your dog has that hard, dry, crusty shell over its nose your dog can’t use their nose the way they are supposed to. Those hard crusty shells on their paw pads can make their feet extremely sensitive.
Managing Hyperkeratosis in Dogs
Since there is no cure for Hyperkeratosis it’s very important that you take steps to manage it and keep your dog comfortable. With a few simple treatments and lifestyle changes, having Hyperkeratosis doesn’t have to become a big problem for your dog or impact your dog’s life too much.
It is important that your dog sees the vet regularly. That hard crusty shell can lead to skin infections and other problems that need to be treated with antibiotics and topical skin creams. So, you will need to develop a good relationship with a vet you trust to get effective ongoing care for your dog.
When it comes to home treatments here are some things you can do to manage Hyperkeratosis in dogs and keep your pooch comfortable:
1. Get That Shell Removed
Because the keratin will just keep growing and growing you can periodically have it removed by a vet. This should only be done by a vet to prevent hurting your dog or causing a skin infection.
Your vet can carefully trim away the excess keratin and make your dog a lot more comfortable. If you have this done every few months the symptoms of Hyperkeratosis may not impact your dog’s life much at all.
2. Use Skin Creams
Over the counter creams and salves developed specifically for dogs with Hyperkeratosis will help loosen up the shell and keep your dog’s nose moist so that your dog can still smell like they should be able to do. Some salves can help slow down the growth of the keratin, although they can’t totally cure the Hyperkeratosis.
3. Use Booties and Socks
Because your dog’s feet may be sensitive, you should invest in some good footwear for your dog. When you are taking your dog out make sure that the dog’s feet are protected so that they won’t come into contact with ice, cold snow, or hot pavement. This is especially important if you live in a hot climate where the temperatures in the summer can climb over 100 degrees.
Even dogs without Hyperkeratosis can get burned paw pads and other injuries in that kind of heat because the pavement becomes so hot. The hot pavement is even more painful for a dog with Hyperkeratosis. Get some doggie socks with grips on the feet for your dog to wear around the house if you have cold floors like wood or tile floors. This will help protect your floors too.
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4. Get Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed By A Professional
When your dog has Hyperkeratosis, it can be tough for you to trim his nails without causing pain or injury. But, trimming your dog’s nails regularly will keep him more comfortable. Take the dog to a groomer or have your vet trim his nails on a regular basis to make it easier for your pup to walk without pain.
5. Let Your Dog Ride
If your dog likes to go for walks or runs with you but the Hyperkeratosis makes his feet hurt after a short time, buy a pet stroller for your dog. It might seem silly to some dog owners but a pet stroller will give your dog the fun of a walk or a run without hurting their feet. And it’s a pretty good workout for you.
Let Fido walk or run with you until you notice that he is slowing down, limping or acting like he's in pain. Then let the dog ride comfortably in the stroller with all the windows open so he can feel the breeze and see the landscape. Your dog will love it and you won’t have to cut your walks or runs short because your dog is hurting.
6. Give Your Dog A Sauna Experience
To keep the skin under the keratin soft and moist and to soften the ridges of keratin on your dog’s nose and paw pads give your dog some steam. Run the shower with the hot water on full blast until the bathroom is hot and steamy. Don’t turn on the exhaust fan.
Then sit in the steamy bathroom with your dog and let that hot steam soften up the skin and the keratin. Your pet will breathe better and be a lot more comfortable.
Having Hyperkeratosis doesn’t have to make life miserable for your dog. If you make sure that you take the dog to the vet often and use some of these techniques to make your dog more comfortable your dog can still have a great life even with Hyperkeratosis.