As the days and nights get a little chillier we are reminded the winter season is just around the corner. When the temperatures drop the surfaces we walk on outside get very cold and, at times, covered with ice and snow making it important for pet owners to protect their dog’s paws. Would you walk barefoot across snow and ice? Probably not, and although our pet's paws are a little bit tougher than our own feet, they are still vulnerable and need to be taken care of. Here are some tips to keeping your dog’s paws happy and healthy this winter:
Prep Your Dog’s Paws
Good grooming is essential for healthy winter feet. Did you know long nails force the paw to splay out and make it more likely that snow and ice will accumulate between the paw pads? That is why it is especially important to clip those nails in the winter months. You also want to keep hair around paws trimmed, this will prevent ice balls from forming between and around paw pads which can be painful and result in trauma. Once you have clipped nails and trimmed hair you want to apply a moisturizer on your pet's paws. Exposure to cold weather can cause paws to dry out and this will lead to chapping and cracking, to prevent this you want to moisturize. It's important to never use a lotion meant for humans on your pet's paws, these lotions could soften the pads too much and lead to other issues. Instead, use a pet moisturizer such as our Certified Organic Paw Rescue which is perfect for healing and restoring cracked pads. Our paw rescue is made from food grade Shea Butter and safe for your pet if accidentally licked.
Salt and Ice Melt Can Be Toxic
Salt and ice melt can be toxic to our four legged friends. When you take your dog out for a walk try to keep him/her away from roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemical de-icers. The salt pieces or pellets will stick to their paws. When the ice begins to melt this heat can cause burning and irritation to the pads of their feet. Dogs can also ingest too much salt because they may eat snow instead of drinking water, or they may drink from puddled water where ice has melted and the salt products are present. Dogs can also ingest salt if it sticks to the hairs of their feet creating ice balls that your dog will later lick and chew off his feet, another reason to keep the hair around paws trimmed. After each walk always wipe down or rinse your pet's paws with warm water to wash away any chemicals they may have picked up. Another alternative is to slather the dog’s paws with Vaseline before a walk, which will keep salt from getting on the pads, but you will still need to wash the paws after their walk to prevent ingesting any salt. Keep in mind there are pet friendly de-icers that you can purchase to treat your own sidewalk and driveway. It wouldn't be a bad idea to share this information with your neighbors in hopes to encourage them to use pet friendly de-icers as well.
Another good option to protect your dog’s paws is dog boots, that is if you can actually get your dog to wear them. These boots are made by various manufacturers and can be easily found online and in pet stores. They consist of a sock like boot with a Velcro strap to help keep them in place. Some have soles which provide the additional benefit of adding traction. These boots protect the paw by helping them stay dry and preventing exposure to salt and de-icers. Remember dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like us. Be aware of how long you are out for and use common sense, if you see your dog shivering it's too cold! Winter can be rough on our pup's paws but good grooming and protection, with moisturizers or pet booties, will go a long way to keeping your dog's feet healthy.