For those who follow this blog to learn about English Pointers, I made a discovery this week. Pointers can suffer from skin problems and allergies. Symptoms can be red, itchy skin and even bald patches, along with dry skin especially in hot weather.

I noticed that Zeph was literally chewing his back left paw but thought it was a one-off until I saw him at two of his paws the following night. Closer inspection revealed very pink skin between the toes of his left hind foot and a cracked pad. Not a large crack but I could definitely see it. I also thought I spotted some blood. I checked out his other paws – they seemed okay – but in the groin area there was more pink skin.

Fortunately, Zeph and Zsa Zsa were off to puppy day care the next day. They go to the breeder’s place once a week to spend time with Zeph’s mum, Vera, his sister Cha Cha and the other Pointers (either part of the breeder’s family of Pointers or other Pointers enjoying day care). It’s good for your Pointer to socialise as much as possible. Our breeder also accepts other breeds for day care, so Zeph and Zsa Zsa mingle with terriers and huskies as well.

Trying not to sound like some hysterical pet owner, I asked our breeder to check Zeph’s paws and she promptly declared that he had dry pads and dermatitis. What the? Yep, apparently Pointers (and other dogs) can suffer from dry skin just like humans. The pads can crack and between the toes can get quite itchy. I thought I was going to have to ship Zeph off to the vet for a cortisone shot (not happy to do that) but nooooo…..there’s a VERY simple solution. Zinc and castor oil ointment. Dry pads and itchy toes could also be a sign of lack of zinc. In Zeph’s case, the breeder thinks it’s because he spends a lot of time in the arena with me, when I work the horses or do a spot of weeding. The river run sand can be hot and probably dries out his pads.

Mums will know zinc and castor oil ointment is great for babies who suffer nappy rash. Zinc oxide has antiseptic properties and castor oil is soothing. But who knew you could slap it all over your dog’s dry paws? Awesome. But where to get zinc and castor oil ointment? It sounded like an old-fashioned remedy to me, probably something long forgotten. I had visions of having to make up the ointment myself.

A quick trip into my favourite chemist in Christchurch ensued whilst Zeph and Zsa Zsa happily played with other dogs. I thought that probably I would have to launch into an explanation at the chemist of what the ointment is and why I needed it. But the moment I asked for zinc and castor oil ointment, the lady said “oh, do you have a problem with your dog’s paws?“.

She promptly gave me a huge tub of the ointment, which cost NZ$13.99. Back to the breeder’s to pick up Zeph and ZZ and I obtained strict instructions to slap the ointment on just before bedtime, so it could soak in overnight. Already his paws and pads are softer than a bub’s bottom!

If you live in NZ, simply pick up a tub of Home Essentials’ Zinc and Castor Oil ointment. Home Essentials is made in New Zealand and I picked up a 500 gram tub.

Home Essentials' Zinc and Castor Oil ointment.