Protecting Your Dog’s Paws: Winter Paw Care
Even though we don’t get much snow in Texas, winter can still be brutal on a dog’s paws. Exposed to the elements, paws are at risk for drying, cracking, trauma, and picking up toxic chemicals from the ground. Luckily, there are some tips and products that can ease these problems for paws.
First, it’s important to check your dog’s paws on a regular basis for drying, cracking, and cuts or scrapes. Good grooming is essential for healthy winter feet, as many dogs have long hair between their toes that that collect debris. Here are some tips for winter paw care:
- Trim long hair between your dog’s toes to prevent accumulation of ice and debris
- Keep nails trimmed and short to prevent trauma to the pads
- Apply a thin layer of paw pad balm or petroleum jelly to the pads before heading outside
- As soon as your dog comes inside, soak the feet in a little warm water and dry them well.
To Shoe or Not to Shoe
Do dogs really need booties? It’s a matter of opinion. If your dog is outdoors working, hunting, or otherwise exerting himself in the winter, booties can be a good way to protect his paws well while he works.
When it comes to dog booties, fit is very important. Be prepared to try a lot of booties before you find the right fit. Most dogs don’t like wearing them at first, so give it time for him to become acclimated.
Boots should be tight so they don’t fall off, but not so tight that they restrict movement or circulation. Some boots have soles which provide additional traction. In general, they protect the paw by helping them stay dry and preventing exposure to ice and toxic chemicals like salt, deicers, and antifreeze.
Winter Paw Care
Although we don’t see freezing temperatures much in our neck of the woods, if you are traveling this holiday season with your dog, be aware that salt and most deicers can be toxic to dogs. Try to keep away from roads that have been heavily treated with these chemicals and do not let your dog eat slush or drink from puddles that are near treated roads and sidewalks.
Dogs are just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as people are, so protect your dog if you’re taking him out in the wintertime. Use common sense about how long or short your walks should be, and watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, anxiety, and moving slowly.
Winter can be tough on our dog’s feet, but good grooming, paw balm or booties, and being attentive can go a long way to keeping your dog’s feet healthy. If you have any questions, please give the team at Schertz Animal Hospital a call!