Have you ever gone outside in winter, with snow and salt on the roads, and forgot to wear shoes and socks? I’m willing to bet not. Or, if you’re like me and you thought, “Well its only a second to let the dog in”, you’ve realized that the snow on your bare skin is really, really cold.
Your dog is actually no different. Sure, they are a bit more tough and built for it than we are, but their paws can get just as cold. Problem here is they can’t complain about it the way we can, like when we come in the house dancing up and down.
The winter months can take a beating on your pup’s pads. Chapping and cracking are common occurrences, as are the risks for frostbite and chemical burns. Here are some tips on how to protect your best friend’s paws during the winter time.
Good grooming of your dog’s paws is great for keeping their feet healthy during the winter. Be sure to keep the hair around the paws trimmed, helping to avoid contact with the ground. This helps to prevent ice build up on the paw or around the pads. This can lead to frostbite and potential trauma.
For dogs with longer fur, you can use a beard trimmer with the shortest guard attached to keep the hair short and even with the pads.
It is always important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed to a length where they are just above the ground when they walk. In the winter time, this is even more important. Longer nails can cause the paws to splay outwardly as they contact the ground, creating an opportunity for snow, ice, and salt to accumulate within the paw.
According to the ASPCA, “Rock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infection, and blistering, and toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog when he licks his paws. Beat these wintertime blues by washing your dog’s paws in warm water after outdoor walks to rinse away salt and chemicals.”
Additionally, applying a thin layer of Vaseline, Bag Balm, or specifically manufactured paw balm, can help to reduce the chances of your dog suffering the effects of salt and other chemicals we put down on our roads and sidewalks.
Don’t Forget the Shoes
Another good option for protection is to cover your dog’s paws. Doggie Booties (or dog boots if your pup is self conscious about wearing “booties”) are made by many different manufacturers and easily found online. Often times these come with Velcro straps to help keep them on your dog while you go for a refreshing walk.
Be sure not to tighten the straps too much when you put these on, however, as you could cause trauma or other circulation problems to your pup’s paws. Your friend may not like wearing them at first, as many don’t, but with time, practice wearing them around the house, and praise (or a hand full of treats), they will eventually grow to tolerate them.
The winter months can be tough on a dog’s paws. With these simple tips and reminders, you and your pet can enjoy the winter months together; from both inside and outside of the home.