5 Winter Paw Care Tips for Dogs

Winter Paw Care

Winter weather is hard on your pooch's paws. The freezing temperatures, drying salt, toxic deicing chemicals, and damp snow can all lead to painful and cracking paws. You can help your dog stay happier and healthier this season by following these cold weather tips for dog paw snow protection.

1. During the cold winter months, try to limit the amount of time your dog spends outside.

Despite the fact that many dogs enjoy frolicking in the snow and playing in the cold weather, too much time outdoors and exposure to the elements can be dangerous, or even deadly. Many people assume a dog's fur will naturally keep them warm during the winter, but they are still susceptible to frostbite and hyperthermia especially on their paws and other exposed skin. A good rule of thumb is that as long as your dog is running and playing in the snow, it is fine to remain outdoors, but as soon as he stops, you should think about heading inside.

2. Maintain a dog-friendly winter yard.

There are a lot of things you can do to help your dog have a better winter. Pet owners who allow their dogs to go outside to do their business should make the area as safe as possible. Keep the fenced-in areas free from snow and ice. Avoid using toxic deicers on your property, or a large amount of rock salt in places where your dog may go. If you must use deicers, look for the type which is safe to use around animals. If you notice your car leaking antifreeze, you need to clean it up immediately. Although antifreeze is a deadly poison, it has a sweet taste which can attract dogs, other animals, and even young children.

3. Prepare your dog's paws before heading outside.

While it is a good idea to maintain your dog's paws throughout the year, it is essential throughout the winter months. Before going for an extended outdoor walk, use an electric clipper to trim any excess hair from between pads on your dog's paw. Too much extra hair can retain moisture and lead to freezing which increases the chance of frostbite. Also, try to keep your dog's nails trimmed. Unkempt nails make it more difficult for your pet to walk and increase their chance of getting hurt by slipping on ice. You may also want to use a specially-formulated paw wax to add another layer of protection from the weather.

4. Consider using dog paw covers.

Although you may want to smile every time you see a dog wearing little booties, dog paw covers for snow are no laughing matter. Doggy snow boots can protect your dog's paws against getting frostbite, drying out, and coming in contact with chemicals. Dog boots also provide your pet with better traction in slippery conditions. When choosing your dog's snow boots, make sure that they are secure enough to stay on, but are loose enough not to constrict blood flow to extremities. If it is possible, before purchasing anything, have your dog try on several different brands of dog boots to see which ones are the best fit.

5. Give your pooch a little post-walk pampering.

After returning from a winter walk, spend a few minutes caring for your dog's paws. Inspect each paw and look for and remove any debris embedded in the pads or between them. Use a clean towel with warm water to wipe down each of your pet's feet. This will help to melt any ice and to wash off as much salt and deicer as possible. Finally, apply a pet-friendly moisturizer to your dog's paws to prevent cracking. Make sure to wipe off any excess to avoid your dog from tracking it around your home.

While the winter season can be more dangerous for your dog than other times of the year, with the proper precautions, there is no reason why you shouldn't let your dog enjoy a winter wonderland.

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