Prevent Paw Injuries and Paw Pad Cracking During the Winter

Protect a Dog's Paw Pads During Winter Walks! (Mateusz Stachowski Photo)
Protect a Dog During Winter Walks in the Snow! (Mateusz Stachowski Photo)

Dogs of all breeds and sizes face a couple big obstacles during the cold winter months, when paw pad injuries, cracked or peeling paw pads or frequent licking of the paws becomes commonplace.

The cold winter weather creates the perfect condition for paw injuries and paw discomfort. But fortunately, dog owners can take a few simple measures to prevent paw pad injuries and other common paw problems in dogs when the winter cold arrives.

Rinse or Wipe the Dog’s Paws After Each Walk or Trip Outdoors

In cold climates, road salt and sidewalk ice melt accumulate on the ground as the winter progresses. Sand ice melt pellets are both drying and irritating to the paws, and the problem is only compounded when the dog licks his paws after each walk – a common occurrence after winter walks. The licking is even more drying to the dog’s paw pads and this promotes paw pad cracking and peeling.

Some synthetic ice melts can also contain toxic compounds which pose a danger to the dog if he/she licks her paws. This makes it even more important for owners to rinse their dog’s paws after each walk or visit outdoors.

If the dog takes a quick trip outdoors, pet owners can often get away with using a warm damp washcloth to wipe the dog’s paws. Dog owners should rinse their pet’s feet following a longer walk, particularly if ice melt or salt has been recently applied to the roadways and sidewalks. A small Tupperware tub filled with warm water works great as a doggie foot bath following winter walks.

Buy Dog Boots and Get Your Dog Accustomed to Wearing Them!

Ice can be just as sharp as glass and it can be very painful for a dog to walk on. The extreme cold is also drying to the dog’s feet, which makes the paw pads more prone to injury, cracking and peeling.

So when it’s icy and snowy out, or when the temperatures are extremely cold, it’s best to provide a dog’s feet with protection. Dog booties are the best and most effective way to protect a dog’s feet from the cold, ice and salt. Booties can be purchased at most pet supply stores like Petco and PetSmart and they’re available in all sizes, from the XXS for the tiniest Chihuahua up to XXL for your Great Dane.

I should note that a few breeds that are designed to live in cold climates – like the Husky and Alaskan Malamute – and these dogs will not require booties unless the conditions outside are severe.

For dogs who do not wear booties, paws can get some extra paw pad protection from a special paw balm like Musher’s Secret. Musher’s Secret moisturizes and provides a barrier of protection to the dog’s paw pads during walks in the cold, snow and ice.

It’s important to remember that dogs must be accustomed to wearing booties. Put a pair of dog booties on your pet for the first time and the effect will be an amusing high-stepping gait. So before it’s time to wear the booties in bad weather, give your dog some practice with wearing the boots.

Dress Your Dog in a Sweater or Parka

This tip has nothing to do with paw pad injuries due to the cold winter weather, but nevertheless, dressing a dog when it’s cold will keep the pet comfortable during winter walks.

Dog sweaters and parkas are not necessary for all breeds. A husky, for instance, is designed to spend hours – even days – out in the cold winter weather. But many other breeds simply don’t have a thick fur coat, which means walking in the cold weather (especially when it’s windy) can be uncomfortable and even dangerous to the dog’s health. Some dogs that should be dressed in a dog sweater or parka for winter walks include: Labrador Retrievers, Greyhounds, Pit Bulls, the Maltese and Pugs, among many others.

Pet owners should also take special measures to keep pets safe in extreme cold. For more hints on keeping pets safe in the cold, check out this post on PetLvr.com – [The Blog]

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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