Protect Your Pup’s Paws in the Winter
When winter comes each year, you swap out the sandals, sunscreen and rollerblades in the hall closet for heavy coats, scarves and boots—but what about your pup? He needs the right winter gear, too, and protecting his feet should be your top priority. Here’s what you need to do.
Groom Your Dog’s Feet
If your dog has long hair, step one is to trim the fur between the paw pads. This serves two purposes. First, it helps prevent ice balls from forming, which can make it painful for your dog to walk. Second, it reduces the amount of road salt that sticks to your dog’s feet, which can irritate his paws.
Step two is to trim your dog’s nails. Long nails cause your dog’s toes to separate when he walks, increasing the amount of snow and ice that becomes stuck between the paw pads.
Wipe Your Dog’s Paws When You Get Home
As mentioned above, road salt can irritate your pup’s paws. He may be inclined to lick them if they hurt and in the process ingest any chemical deicers stuck to them. To help prevent this, first use pet-friendly ice melting products on your own driveway and sidewalks when possible.
As an added precaution, place a bowl of warm water and a soft towel by the door when you leave to take your dog on a walk. When you get home, dip your pup’s paws in the water to wash off salt and deicers. Pat them dry with the towel and send your dog on his way. This precaution also prevents chemicals from being tracked into your home.
Shorten Your Walks
Winter walks can be wonderful when you’re bundled up tight, but for your dog’s sake, keep them short. On particularly bitter days, skip the walks and opt for quick bathroom breaks in the back yard instead.
Try Doggie Booties
They look silly at first, and it may take some time for your dog to get used to them, but doggie booties are the best way to protect your pup’s paws in the winter. Not only do they prevent painful ice balls and chemicals accumulating on his paws, but they also provide added protection against broken glass or other sharp objects hidden beneath the snow. They even help keep his paws warmer when the temperature drops outside.
If your dog is really struggling to wear his booties, try letting him get used to wearing them around the house. Over time, he should associate wearing the booties with something good—like going for a walk—and struggle less when you try to put them on.
Apply “Invisible Dog Boots”
If your dog simply refuses to wear regular doggie booties, you have another option: apply a special balm to the pads of his feet before each walk. PawPro, Mucher’s Secret and Paw De-icer are three popular brands that protect against ice, salt, sand and hot pavement. While non-toxic, you should wash off your dog’s feet after each walk and reapply the next time you go out. Be aware that on long walks, the balm may wear off.
Check Your Dog’s Paws Regularly
Check for signs of paw injury, including cracked pads or redness between the toes, especially in the winter. If your pup shows signs of irritation or pain, take him to the vet.
The experienced veterinarians at Germantown Vet Clinic are here to help your dog stay healthy and happy. We can provide personalized tips to protect your pup’s paws all winter long.
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*Extractions and antibiotics are additional if necessary.
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