Guarding Your Dog’s Feet in the Winter

photoWinter can be harsh on your dog’s paws, but there are easy ways to protect your canine buddy’s peds from the elements during this time of the year.

Trim the fur underneath

Slushy snow, which may contain grit and salt, has a tendency to stick to fur. Flattened snow, grit, and salt on the bottom of your dog’s paws will make walking and balancing on his feet more difficult.

You’ve probably had compacted snow on the bottom of your boots before and found it hard to keep from slipping. It’s similar for your dog. But if the fur between his toe pads is the same level as the pads, then less snow will cling to it.

Keep nails short

Untrimmed nails can cause your dog’s toes to spread when he walks. That extra space means snow and ice can accumulate between his toes and make walking painful. Try walking with cotton wool between your toes and you’ll know how it feels.

Long nails affect your pet’s weight distribution as well. With his weight on the back of his feet, he’ll have less traction, making him more prone to slipping and getting injured when walking on an icy path.

Wash those paws

Whenever you come home from walking outside, wash your pet’s paws in warm water to warm his feet up; dissolve any ice between his toes; and wash off any salt or de-icers – your dog might lick his paws and ingest these substances, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Check the pads

De-icers, which are mostly made from rock salt, can cause your pooch’s pads to become dry and crack. Snow, grit, and de-icers can build up in these cracks, leading to infections, soreness, and blisters.

To prevent dryness and maintain suppleness, you can apply foot balm or Vaseline to the pads. Check your dog’s paws daily so you can spot any cracks, abrasions, or stuck grit and treat injuries as soon as possible.

Buy some booties

Consider getting your pooch some dog booties. They will not only protect his feet from salt, grit, and de-icers, but also help retain body heat. Your dog can quickly lose body heat through his paws when they come into contact with the cold ground, so booties can decrease the risk of hypothermia.

Since your dog doesn’t normally wear shoes, have him wear the booties in the house for short periods of time so he’ll get used to them. Praise him as he walks around in them.

Treat them like your own

Remember, your dog’s  paws get cold, sore, and blistered too! Treat them as you would your own so your pet will have happy feet during the wintertime.

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