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Tips For Caring For Pets Paws in Winter Weather

We suit up for winter weather, preparing for the frigid temperatures when we head outside. If we believe it is too cold for us, it is safe to assume that it is too cold for our dogs as well. While breeds like malamutes and huskies are more tolerant of snow and chilly winds than short-haired, smaller breeds, they are also not entirely without risk, especially when it comes to the condition of their paws.

The dogs’ paws extended exposure to cold and wet surfaces can suffer damage that results in effects ranging from discomfort to pain and injury. Even if the colder weather is not as prevalent, the treatment of roads and sidewalks, where dogs still have to be taken for talks, means that they are covered in salt and de-icing agents. As dogs often lick their paws, it is important to mitigate their ability to ingest any chemical particulates that may have stuck to their paws. If the dog gets any of these in their eyes or ingests them, it could result in far more severe health issues.

Luckily, there are several methods for protecting puppy paws from both the cold of winter weather and exposure to ice treatment chemicals. Here are a few helpful tips for caring for pets’ paws in the wintertime.

Limit Outside Time

If it is cold out, you don’t want to be outside any longer than you need to, and your dog likely feels the same way. Stay outdoors only for long enough for the dog to take care of its needs and head back into the house, avoiding unnecessarily long walks while there are ice and snow everywhere. This will limit the exposure of the dog’s paws to cold surfaces, reducing the chances of frostbite.

Apply Pet Paw Balm Before And After Walks

Pet balms are sold at many retail outlets that sell pet supplies. Applying this to the dog’s paws prior to walks will minimize the effects of the paw skin exposure to ice and snow, as well as help keep some of the chemical agents from sticking to them. This should be applied before walks, but also afterward to coat the paws for better protection during cold weather months to mitigate the skin cracking or flaking.

Wipe Down A Dog’s Paws After Walks

After outside walks in the cold weather months, keeping a towel by the door is a good idea. Once the dog is back inside, use the towel to thoroughly wipe down its paws. This will help to not only eliminate the snow and ice particles potentially still attached to the paw, but it will also help to mitigate any damage that could be done by salt and de-icer residue the dog may have stepped on. Some owners consider also filling a small tub or bucket with warm water, and having the dog step into it with each paw for a few seconds before wiping them down. This will help to remove any hard-to-detach particulates from the paws as well.

Maintain Paws Before Walks

Periodic paw maintenance throughout the year is a good idea, but in the winter months, it's even more important to trim any excess hair from the pads on the dog’s paws as too much of it is more likely to retain moisture, which, especially on long walks in the snow, can stick and freeze over, damaging the puppy’s pads. It is also important to trim the dog’s nails as long nails increase the chances of the dog slipping and getting injured.

Use Paw Booties/Covers

Paw covers are a good solution for protecting the pup’s paws on frosty walks. Getting them on could be a bit challenging depending on the dog’s temperament or tolerance, but they are well worth it in terms of paw protection. The paw booties should not be overly tight, to prevent them from constricting blood flow, but not loose enough to slip off either. It is always a good idea to have your dog try them on before purchasing them and of course taking the time to make sure the dog is used to walking around with them on. The covers will not only guard against cold, dry skin, and frostbite, they will keep the great majority of salt and chemicals off, reducing the chances that the dog licks and ingests them. Many owners who take the booties approach also lather some paw balm or petroleum jelly on the pads for extra protection.

If you follow any of these tips, you will help lessen your puppy’s chances of discomfort or injury. If you have a backyard that is fenced in and dog-friendly, during the wintertime, it is a far better choice. You will need to do some maintenance during the spring months, for your dog will be a safer place, away from salted and de-iced sidewalks.