How do I take care of my dogs paws in winter?
Winter Weather can take its toll on our dogs as well as us. Exposure to cold air, snow, ice and ice-melting products can lead to dry itchy skin and cracked paws.
Each year as winter arrives we start to increase what we put on our feet to protect ourselves from damage due to our climate. We start adding thicker socks and changing from runners to boots, being some examples. Sometimes we forget that our dogs may also require foot protection.
General Dog Maintenance for Winter Care
A few general winter grooming tips are:
- To keep the nails trimmed to prevent the paws from splaying. Splayed paws make it easier for irritants to get to the paw pads
- If your dog has long hair between the paw pads and around the paws, then trim the hairs there. This minimizes the formation of ice balls and reduce the amount of ice preventatives picked up.
- Brush your dog regularly as it will help get rid of dead hair, stimulate the skin and help spread the natural oils your dog produces throughout its coat.
One of the biggest issues faced by dogs in winter is the effects of de-icing materials. With the variety of salts and chemical de-icers around on the roads, sidewalks and driveways there is really no way of avoiding exposure while out and about in the neighborhood.
Prolonged contact with salt and chemical de-icers can lead to dry and cracking paws and sometimes chemical burns. The second threat from de-icers is ingestion. When dogs lick their paws, fur and sometimes your footwear they may ingest some of the de-icing compounds.
So what can we do?
- After coming back into the house wipe your dog’s paws with a clean, damp towel or dip them in a bowl of water to rinse them and then dry them off.
- Local Pet Stores sell Dog Boots to wear outside to reduce exposure, they protect your dog’s feet from salt, ice balls, cuts and cracking skin.
- Use petroleum jelly or other pet products like special paw waxes, balms and rubs meant to protect and moisturize the paws and to act as a barrier against the salt. These will wear off and will need to be reapplied.
- Use sand or kitty litter (non -clumping) instead of salt.
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