Cold snow stings. Anyone that’s ever been hit by a snowball will testify to that. And while we humans bundle up and put on a tough pair of boots to go out and enjoy building a snowman in the front yard, our dogs do not always have something to protect their paws and keep their body warm.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to dogs and snowy environment. One of them is that snow is not as soft as you think it is. Snow is basically crystallized water. So, taking your dog out for a potty (or to enjoy the snowy atmosphere) on a snowy day is tantamount to rubbing a piece of icy cold crystal against your dog’s paws.
Despite their tough appearance, dog paws are actually quite sensitive. Snow can irritate a dog’s paws, or cause laceration on paws over time. Small amounts of exposure aren’t enough to really hurt them or rub a paw raw. However, long periods of time spent walking or running on snow can cause your dog’s paws to chafe, freeze, and/or unnecessary pain.
How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws from the Snow This Winter
1. You should start with the basics. Keep your dog’s nails trimmed. Nails are more fragile in a cold-wet environment and can crack or break during playtime. Also, keep the fur trimmed between your dog’s paws. This particular spot tends to accumulate snow and debris, which can become uncomfortable or irritating for your dog’s paws.
2. For more extreme conditions, it is wise to keep their feet covered. Booties are nice; if your dog doesn’t mind wearing them. Just be sure that they’re waterproof, or they won’t provide any benefit. In heavy snow situations, dog boots are probably your best solution. These cover your dog’s paws, as well as, keep them warm and protected. Dog boots can be quite expensive.
3. Perhaps one of the most interesting methods for paw protection is applying a layer of petroleum jelly or balm on your dog’s paw pads just before you go out. The layer will help protect against chafing. Don’t put too much, though, for it can make the paws less hard-wearing and more susceptible to cuts from debris. One thin layer is sufficient.
There are paw-waxes specifically designed for this application (though their contents are similar to petroleum jelly), and can be found at most popular pet stores. This method helps protect their feet and soothe their paws.
4. After a walk or an outdoor snow activity, take the time to wash your dog’s paws with warm (not hot) water to remove all debris and help improve circulation to their toes. This will also help clean away any protecting balms that you don’t want your dog licking on (or tracking through the house).
Remember that there is more than just snow out there. Unfortunately, common snow-treatments can become irritants for your dog’s paws. Rock salt is used to keep sidewalks from icing up or to prevent thick layers of snow from accumulating. Rock salt is very abrasive, and can quickly chafe your dog’s paws, even if you don’t notice it.
Most dogs will not have sores or lacerations, but may still suffer from irritated paws that will be bright pink or red. Your canine pal will limp or avoid walking due to the discomfort that he is feeling. He may begin licking his paws excessively to soothe the pain. But, keep in mind that excessive licking will actually make the irritation worse, so you’ll want to divert him from doing so or apply some moisturizers to the affected paws. If there are cuts or sores, be sure to treat them immediately. Wash them thoroughly and apply antiseptic or antibiotic ointments. It is then best that they stay out of the snow for at least a couple of days.
With the winter season nearing, we’re bound to see a few snow flurries that will turn the front yard into a playground for us and our dogs. As long as you take a few precautions and help protect your pup’s paws, enjoying the seasonal snowfall will be a fun experience your dog will never forget.
Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember. After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again. Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!