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Many dogs love romping through snow. However, even the most cold-tolerant dogs can’t spend too long in winter weather without damaging their feet. Pet parents need to know about the tools, medications, and best practices that go into protecting dogs’ paws from the cold.
One simple tool for protecting dogs’ paws is dog booties. These are “shoes” designed to fit snugly over a dog’s feet. Most dogs take some time to adjust to wearing booties, but once they’re used to it, the booties provide effective insulation against winter weather.
The best dog booties are made of waterproof or water-resistant material. The sole should be flexible with a good grip, especially if the pet walks on icy paths. The booties should also have adjustable straps to be tightened appropriately.
Extreme cold dries out the skin, causing it to crack and bleed. Pet parents should apply paw balms and moisturizers to prevent this from happening to their dogs’ paws.
The balms are applied directly to the dog’s skin, similar to how ChapStick is used. It’s recommended to apply balms and moisturizers immediately before going out into cold weather. If the dog is outside for several hours, their pet parent should periodically reapply the balm.
In addition to booties and paw balms, pet parents can use safe winter practices to protect their dogs’ feet. For instance, they can keep a few clean rags by the door for wiping off their dogs’ paws. This serves a few purposes:
Wiping off a dog’s paws removes caked-on snow, which reduces the risk of frostbite.
In many areas, chemicals are sprinkled on roads to melt ice. These chemicals are harmful if swallowed. Wiping off a dog’s paws ensures that they won’t inadvertently ingest toxins when they lick their feet.
Drying a dog’s paws prevents them from tracking water and mud into the house.
Pet parents should also be mindful of how long their dogs are comfortable walking in cold weather. Time the first few walks and plan future outings accordingly. It’s helpful to pick out a few familiar trails and rotate through them. That way, pet parents and their dogs know what to expect when they go for winter walks.
Warning signs of cold temperature damage to a dog’s feet include:
Licking their feet
Repeatedly trying to turn back home
If the dog exhibits these signs, pet parents should immediately return home, dry their dog’s paws, and apply another layer of balm. Watch the dog and keep them warm until their condition improves.
Protecting dog paws from winter weather is easy with the right tools and knowledge. Pet parents can keep winter walks fun and safe for their dogs by taking appropriate precautions. To learn more about protecting dogs’ health, reach out to Fuzzy 24/7 to start a chat with veterinary support.