Winter officially starts in just two days. Are you and your pet ready? The winter season can be just as brutal on your pets as it is on us – sometimes even worse! Paws are exposed to not only the elements but also to toxic chemicals that are used during the winter. The pads of paws can be susceptible to cracking, frostbite, dryness, and chemical burns from de-icing products. Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of injury or discomfort for your pooch.
First, start by making sure their paws are groomed. Trim excess hair around the pads of their paws. You can use clippers to make it easier – just make sure the fur is not longer than the pads. This will help snow and debris from getting stuck inside their paws. There is often a ton of salt and other de-icing products spread on sidewalks and roadways this time of year, so it’s almost certain that your pup will come in contact with some of it. Don’t forget to trim their nails. It’s just as important during the winter to keep their nails trimmed as it is during the summer. Nails that are too long cause lots of problems for your canine friend including discomfort and encourage more debris to get trapped between the pads of their paws.
Before you head outside for your walk, apply a thin layer of a protective balm on the pads of their paws. There are countless terrific products on the market, but make sure that the product you choose is specifically made for dogs. A couple great ones to choose from are Baely’s Paw Shield, and Musher’s Secret. You can find these products both online and in most pet stores.
Another great way to protect your dog’s feet is to invest in some dog booties. They vary in price and there are many different brands out there to choose from. They’re also easily found both online and in pet stores. Although some dogs take to booties right away, some dogs take a bit longer to get used to them so it’s important to give your little guy plenty of time to become accustomed to wearing them. It’s a good idea to start off by having them wear them for just a few minutes at a time, slowly increasing the time little by little until they’re comfortable. This will help ensure that when the time comes that they need to wear them for a walk, they’ll keep them on instead of trying to kick them off because they feel weird. Also, make sure that the boots fit your dog properly by checking the instructions from the manufacturer. You want them to be snug enough that they stay on, but certainly not too tight to cause discomfort or injury.
Don’t forget to take care of those paws after the walk is over! Their feet probably accumulated a lot of debris while you were on your walk if they weren’t wearing dog booties, so don’t forget to wipe their paws off to make sure there are not any salt or chemicals still stuck to their feet. Also, check between the pads of their feet to make sure the skin doesn’t look red or irritated. If they look especially dry, you can also apply a bit more of the paw balm just to moisturize. It also doesn’t hurt to give them a good brushing from head to toe, just to ensure that there isn’t any debris lodged in their fur as well. It never hurts to give your pooch’s coat a little extra love.