We love long winter walks with our pooches, but dry air, snow, ice, and salt can all wreak havoc on our dogs’ delicate paws. Staying inside all winter isn’t an option, so what’s a pet parent to do?
Follow these tips to protect Fido’s paws from the harsh winter elements:
Regularly trim your pet’s nails and the tufts of fur between her paws, both of which have a tendency to trap salt, snow, and ice. Nails should be short enough that they do not touch the ground. Trapped ice crystals and de-icing chemicals can cause irritation and redness on the skin.
Before you embark on your walk, thoroughly coat your pet’s paws in a protective balm (we like Musher’s Secret). You can also use a basic petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline. These balms provide a protective barrier between paws and the ground, as well as much- needed extra moisture. When you come back from your walk, gently wipe paws off with a warm washcloth, making sure to get in between toes and under nails. Finish with another layer of balm.
TO BOOT OR NOT TO BOOT
Dog booties are great for protecting paws from winter dangers, but only if your dog will actually walk in them. Look for boots that are lightweight, waterproof, and allow for full flexion. If there’s snow on the ground, stay away from those that are made of wool or cotton. Walking in wet socks is unpleasant for anybody—dogs included.
KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Stay vigilant about inspecting your pup’s paws. Check for redness (especially between the toes) and cracks in the paw pads. If you notice anything, apply balm more often throughout the day and keep your pet inside as much as you can (or in booties) until paws are healed.
DE-ICE THE PET- FRIENDLY WAY
Chances are the salt you use to de-ice your stoop and driveway is full of chemicals that are toxic and painful to your dog’s paws. Fortunately, there are other options. Safe Paw Ice Melter is salt-free and non-toxic, which means no ice and no irritated paws.
KEEP IT HUMID
Dry air outside is perilous for paws and skin, as is going between cold air and dry heat on a regular basis. Counteract the effects by using a humidifier to keep the air inside your home moist and comfortable.
Don’t hibernate this winter. Follow these tips and you and your furry friend can both get out and enjoy the fresh air.
Editor’s note: If you notice paw cracks or redness that won’t go away even with proper precautions, make an appointment with your vet immediately.