Four strategies for cold weather paw protection
During the first snowfall of the year, you may be wondering if your pet needs paw protection during their walks. Much like human hands and faces, your pet’s paws are quite delicate. They’re susceptible to frostbite, cracked and chapped skin and chemical burns from deicing agents on sidewalks and streets.
Protect you pup from these cold weather hazards and prepare for the winter months ahead by using the following four strategies:
- Booties. Snow and ice can increase your dog’s risk of frostbite, and, combined with the cold, can dry out their paw pads leaving them chapped or cracked. Cracked pads can be painful and uncomfortable to walk on. Snow and ice build-up can irritate the sensitive skin between their toes causing pups to limp, refuse to walk or cry out in discomfort. Some chemical ice melts can irritate the delicate skin on your pet’s paws, causing them to limp or hold their feet up. Give small dogs a lift by carrying them across salted sidewalks to protect their toes or use booties. Booties not only protect your dog from chemical irritation resulting from salt-treated sidewalks or streets, but they also prevent snow and ice balls from forming between those delicate little toes! Look for pet-friendly ice melts to use on own your property and try keeping a shoveled salt-free area for your dog to eliminate on.
- Paw balm or wax. If your dog is hesitant to wear booties, try using a paw balm or wax. Apply a thick layer of balm before heading out on a walk to help prevent snow and ice balls from forming between their toes. The balm also creates a barrier between your pet’s paws and salt or other deicing agents that are applied to streets and sidewalks. A bonus is that these products work as a moisturizer as well! If your dog’s paws are rough and cracked, massage the wax or balm into their pads.
- Visual check. If you notice your dog limping or lifting a paw when you’re out for a walk, lift up the paws and check for snow or ice balls between the toes. Gently remove snow or ice balls. Once you’re back home wipe down your pet’s paws with a damp towel and check those tender tootsies to remove any remaining ice balls. If you know your pet has walked on salt covered sidewalks and streets, you may even want to dip their paws in lukewarm water to rinse the salt away and then towel dry. If you notice that your pet’s paws are irritated or the pads are cracked, contact your veterinarian for advice.
- Keep it short and keep pets dry! During extreme cold, keep walks short and keep your pet warm and dry with a weatherproof coat. Being out in the cold too long or getting wet from rain or snow combined with the cold is dangerous and can lead to frostbite. Check your pet’s paws (and their ears and tail too) for signs of frostbite (swelling, pain or tenderness, blisters, pale or blue skin). Keep in mind, if it’s too cold for you, chances are it’s too cold for your dog too.
Remember to bundle up to keep yourself and your pet warm while you enjoy bounding through the first snowfall of the season!
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