Understanding how to protect your dog’s paws in the winter months is crucial, as it significantly impacts not just the health of their paws but also their general well-being. The concerns for pet parents in winter extend beyond just the cold temperatures. There are additional dangers to be mindful of, including salt used to melt ice, antifreeze spills, and various types of debris that can be hidden or dispersed due to winter conditions.
These elements can pose serious risks to a dog’s paw health and overall safety, making it essential for owners to take proactive steps to protect their canine companions during the cold months. Fortunately, there are a few easy methods to keep your pup’s paws safe.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws With Dog Boots
Dog boots are often the easiest way to protect your dog’s feet. You wear boots outside, don’t you? Think of everything you step on. Your dog is stepping on all that without any foot protection. The salt we use (and other ice melting chemicals) to de-ice the sidewalks, roads, and driveways can cause chemical burns on your dogs’ feet.
Dog boots act as a barrier between your dog’s paws and the harsh ground elements, protecting them from irritants and frostbite. They also help in preventing injuries from sharp objects and provide better traction on slippery surfaces.
Yes, there is dog-safe salt out there that could be used as an alternative to chemical ice melting agents, but even though you may use it, that doesn’t mean anyone else does. This is particularly true if you take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. That kind of salt is expensive and it would be incredibly costly to use it for the roads, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of cold, icy weather.
By investing in a good pair of dog boots, you not only ensure the comfort and safety of your dog’s feet during walks but also minimize the risk of injuries and chemical burns that can occur due to the harsh materials used in winter weather management.
Picking Snow Boots to Protect Dog Paws
It can be overwhelming when you first look through the store at the dog booties. There are so many different kinds that it can be hard to choose how to protect your dog’s paws in the winter months properly. Not all of these will be winter weather ready.
Some booties are used for hiking whereas others may be used to protect dog paws while swimming. Once you limit the dog shoes to those designed solely for winter weather, you’ll have a much lower selection.
The kind of booties you want to look for should have the following characteristics:
- Insulation: Fleece lining for warmth (or some type of insulating material to keep them warm in the snowy weather)
- Protection: Rubber bottom to protect against sharp objects. Some completely rubber booties have a lot of insulation inside of them as well.
- Resistance: Water resistant exterior on both the top and bottom of the dog shoes
- Good fit: Fastening to ensure a secure fit (prevents snow from getting in and makes it easier for your dog to walk around)
If possible, bring your pup to the store with you so you’re able to get a feel for the size of their feet. Getting the right size is incredibly important. You don’t want their toes to be squished.
If Your Dog Doesn’t Like Wearing Boots
If your dog doesn’t appreciate wearing boots on their precious paw pads, don’t panic quite yet. Most dogs don’t want dog boots on their paws at first. It takes some acclimation. They don’t naturally get up out of their bed to grab their boots next to the door.
To help your dog become accustomed to the dog boots, take advantage of some quality time and use a few days (or more if necessary) touching their paws. Touch your dog’s paw pads, top of their feet, up their leg, and continue doing so a few minutes at a time until they don’t really mind you doing so. In the meantime, leave their dog boots out somewhere they can easily access.
Leaving the boots out will let them check them out. They will sniff them and be able to see for themselves they aren’t dangerous. To help connect them with something good, use positive reinforcement by giving your dog a treat anytime they go near the boots.
After several days, once your dog has familiarized themselves with the boots and finished their paw work, go ahead and try them on. If they aren’t ready, it’s okay. Go back to the beginning. If they are okay with the boots being on now, let them wander around the house with them on before venturing outside.
Paw Balm or Paw Wax for Your Dog’s Pads
Some dogs completely refuse to wear boots regardless of how much you work with them. Now how do you protect your dog’s paws in the winter? In these cases, using a paw wax or paw balm can prove useful. Petroleum jelly or bag balm could work while you’re awaiting the arrival of the products you’ve chosen.
Before you go for your walk, coat your dog’s paw pads with the paw balm or waxy substance. This will create a barrier to prevent ice salt, snow and freezing cold ice from sticking between their toes and on their paw pads. In addition to offering protection, it can help maintain the normal moisture content of skin. Just make sure to choose a product that has the least amount of ingredients-the more natural, the better.
Earth Buddy’s Paw & Skin Balm, for example, contains only four ingredients: Full spectrum CBD Oil for dogs, organic coconut oil, organic mango butter, and organic beeswax. It’s completely safe for your dog to ingest and work even for animals with sensitive skin.
Wipe Your Furry Best Friend’s Paws
Creating a practical and convenient setup at the door you use after taking your furry best friend for a walk can significantly ease the process of cleaning their paws in winter. To do this, you can arrange a small shelf or a designated area where you keep a towel and a spray bottle filled with water set to a mist setting. Having these items readily available at the door ensures you can efficiently wipe off your dog’s paws as soon as you return from your walk.
This simple yet effective method serves two important purposes. It allows you to promptly remove any chemicals, like chemical deicers and antifreeze, which may have adhered to your dog’s paws during the walk. These substances can be harmful if your dog ingests it, which is a risk when your dog licks their paws to clean themselves. By wiping their paws, you reduce the likelihood of ingestion and the potential health risks associated with it.
It’s also crucial to prevent these chemicals from being absorbed into your dog’s skin. Prolonged contact with such substances can lead to irritation or chemical burns on the sensitive skin on dog paws. Cleaning their paws regularly not only removes these harmful residues but also gives you an opportunity to check for any abnormalities on their paws.
If you do know for certain that your dog walked through salt crystals or another toxic substance, or even if you just suspect it, washing their feet in warm water for just a few minutes after you clean them off could help remove the residue. Then, simply towel dry and set them free to go relax next to the cozy fireplace.
Good Grooming For Healthy Winter Feet
Good grooming practices can help keep your dog’s paws safe during the winter, too. Keeping this fur trimmed, cutting long nails, and washing to protect paws can significantly reduce the risk of various issues, such as frostbite, the accumulation of toxic materials, and the entanglement of debris like ice balls and other materials.
This aspect of grooming is particularly important for certain dog breeds, like English Springer Spaniels, that tend to grow excessive fur on and around their paws, including between their toes and paw pads. That fur could collect snow, leaving their toes exposed to the freezing cold snow for longer periods of time. Preventing snow from nesting in your dog’s feet, and their fur overall, maintaining grooming even during the winter is important.
Walk Short Distances For Short Periods In Cold Weather
Keeping walks short, especially in cold weather, can help protect your dog’s paws in the winter months. Longer walks can be saved for a different day. It’s not likely there will be extreme cold all winter long and a long walk on a warmer day could be just around the corner.
There’s a common misconception that dogs have this incredible protection against the cold weather and everything associated with it. But in general, if you’re cold, they’re cold. And their paw pads against the ice cold ground could damage your pet’s paws along winter walks. And, if you wouldn’t walk on a particular surface due to potential debris or toxins, don’t allow your dog to walk on it either.
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