The temperature has begun to drop and it’s really beginning to feel like winter, which means it’s time for some tips on how to protect your pet’s paws from freezing surfaces and the various other potential dangers the cold weather poses. Dog paw pads are as sensitive as the bare skin on our own hands and feet. They are susceptible to everything from snow, ice, and cold weather in general, to the salt and sand that is typically spread on the roads and sidewalks in winter. Not every breed is intended to live in the cold weather and the effects of frozen surfaces and other harsh winter elements can be rough or even dangerous for some dogs. If you plan to take your dog for walks or on outings during the winter months, it’s imperative that you take every precaution to protect your dog’s paw pads and avoid unnecessary injury or illness.
4 Tips for Protecting Your Dog’s Paw Pads
- Invest in a pair of dog shoes. Love them or hate them, dog shoes offer a solid layer of protection against the elements. This is the safest and most effective way to keep your dog’s paw pads warm and prevent a potentially harmful buildup of ice, snow or salt in his sensitive paws. Dog shoes typically consist of a sock-like boot with a strap to keep them in place, and they are designed to protect the paws and pads by keeping them dry and preventing exposure to salt, ice, snow and de-icer products, which can be toxic.
- Keep a towel on hand. Anytime you come home after a wintertime walk, it’s a good idea to wipe down your pup’s paws with a towel. This can reduce the effects of ice, salt and other toxic chemicals he may have walked in and prevent him from getting sick if he licks his paws later on. If you’re worried about damage to your dog’s paw pads from salted roads, dip your dog’s paws in a bucket of lukewarm water before towel drying them.
- Keep your walks short. Sure, you want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, but when it comes to cold weather, a long walk may actually do more harm than good. In freezing temperatures, your dog may even be at risk for frostbite or hypothermia. A good measure is this: If it’s too cold for you, it’s also too cold for your dog.
- Buy some paw balm. Salt can cause dry skin and snow and ice can leave tiny cuts in your dog’s pads, which can turn every step into a painful one. Try rubbing some paw balm on your dog’s paws before and after a walk. This creates a physical barrier between the harsh winter elements and your pup’s delicate paws. It can help keep the paw pads soft and supple, preventing cracking and bleeding, and can also minimize the adverse effects of the cold weather and frozen surfaces.
Keeping Your Dog Happy and Healthy in Winter
Your dog’s paws can really take a beating during the winter months. Exposed to the elements and toxic chemicals, dog paw pads are at risk for frostbite, chemical burns, drying, cracking and bleeding. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can protect your dog’s paw pads. With proper grooming and adequate paw pad protection from dog shoes, balm or another similar product, you can keep your dog’s paws injury-free and your dog himself happy and healthy. For more information about protecting your dog’s paw pads from the cold weather and potential hazards like snow, ice, and salt, contact Animal Medical Center today to make an appointment with an experienced veterinarian.