Dogs’ paws don’t love the winter. Exposure to dry air, ice and cold temperatures can cause paws to dry and crack and even can lead to frostbite. Salt and other chemicals may cause burns and pain. There are a few easy things you can do to help your pup’s feet stay comfortable during the winter.
Use pet-friendly deicer. The best for paws is sand or clay cat litter, but it does not melt ice. If a salt-type product is used, consider Safe Paw Ice Melter – we have it here at District Vet. Try to avoid walking in surfaces that have been heavily treated with salt and deicers. Eating large quantities of salt an deicers can lead to serious medical problems, too.
Keep the hair between the toes trimmed. Fluffy feet may be cute, but the hair traps ice and salt. We recommend trimming the hair so that it is level and even with the foot / toe pads, or even a bit shorter. The hair should not touch the ground. A decent beard trimmer with the shortest plastic guard in place should do nicely.
Everyone loves a pedicure. Routine nail trims during the winter are important. When it’s cold outside, dogs are walked less and the nails don’t wear down as fast as in the summer. Long nails causes the toes to possibly spread out, increasing the likelihood of salt and ice accumulating between them.
Wash your pup’s feet off after walking. This goes without say in many cases – they will track salt though out our house and will then lay down and lick all of the salt / chemicals off their feet. Warm water in a small bowl should suffice.
Consider Vaseline or Bag Balm. Some dogs simply get dried and cracked feet. We treat them in much the same way as ourselves – with a safe ointment. Apply a small amount to the pads and rub it in well immediately before a walk. Post walk clean with a warm cloth, water if needed, and apply a very small amount again, if needed.
Booties are stylish. For dogs with sensitive feet, or for long walks, booties may be of benefit. Numerous types are available, but you should consider ones with grips on the bottom. Be certain that the strap on the top of them is not too tight. Also dry out the booties very well post use and let air flow through them.
Every year Dr. Teich and the staff at District Veterinary Hospital field calls about hurt feet in the winter. A few easy steps can help prevent painful episodes. And remember, if pup is out for a walk and salt gets in the paw, don’t panic! Gently clean out the area and wash off the foot when you get home.
Warmest thoughts during these cold times.
Dan Teich, DVM