Winter can be a tough time for your dog’s paw pads. Prevent winter weather-related paw pad injuries by following some basic dog paw care tips and the use of products designed for paw protection.
How To Prevent Paw Pad Injuries
One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact with deicers can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. If your dog is limping toward the end of a walk, deicing products may be hurting his feet. Whenever possible, get your dog off the salty sidewalk and into the grass or snow for walking.
Another threat from deicers is ingestion. Dogs may lick their paws or your boots and ingest deicing salts. To prevent your dog from ingesting deicing salts, keep a shallow bowl of warm water and a cloth near the entryway to your home so that you can wipe your boots and your dog’s paws when coming in from the cold.
Another common cause of sore paws during the cold winter months are the ice balls which form between the pads and toes of hairy-footed dog. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can hairy feet contribute to the development of ice balls on the feet, paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts. If your dog has hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.
Dogs left in the cold for long periods of times are also at risk for frostbite on paws (and other extremities – ears, tail, etc.) and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold. In winter, more frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk. If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, get him to a vet right away!
Additionally, just like the dry winter air can dry out human skin, it can contribute to the drying and cracking of dog paws. Bag Balm, a product available at nearly every pharmacy, applied in a thin layer daily or every other day should help keep your dog’s paws from cracking and bleeding. Keeping a humidifier in the house should also prevent dry, itchy skin for both you and your pet.