How To Protect Your Dog’s Paws In Winter
This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.
If you live in a part of the country that experiences snow and ice, you will want to make sure that you are prepared to protect your dog’s paws this winter. If your dog likes to stay active during winter months, loves to play in the snow, or is game for a walk no matter what the temperature, it’s important to know how to protect their paws. There are two major dangers; cold temperatures and ice melting products present on the roads, driveways, and sidewalks.
Staying Warm: Protecting Dog’s Paws in Winter
The measures needed to keep your dog’s feet warm depends on the size, breed, and hair coat of your dog. For example, a Husky will need very little intervention compared to a 3 pound Chihuahua. The other factor to consider is how long your pup will be exposed to ice, snow or very cold temperatures. If they are headed out for a quick potty break, they will be fine to go barefoot. If you want to take your dog out for a walk, using boots can help make the walk more comfortable, and will keep their paws warm and dry. There are a lot of boots on the market, and you may need to try a few different brands and fits before finding the one your pup likes best. Again, if you have a Northern dog breed like an Akita or Alaskan Malamute, don’t insult them with boots for a 20 minute walk. They were designed for the snow!
Consider letting your dog wear their boots before the first snow or ice storm of the season. Some dogs struggle to move with the boots initially, as they don’t know exactly where their feet are in space. Check out this video for a funny preview.
Toxic Ice Melts: What Salt Does to Dog’s Paws
Ice melts, (think salt during the winter) are an efficient way to make steps, sidewalks, and streets safe for travel. However, certain ice melts can wreak havoc on our dog’s paws. The most toxic, and most effective, ice melt formulations contain calcium salts. These can cause severe ulceration on your dog’s paw pads and surrounding skin. The less toxic formulations that are labeled ‘pet friendly’ contain urea. These can also be irritating, but generally less so.
If you are taking your dog on a walk after an ice or snow storm, consider using boots to protect their paws from the salts. Alternatively, if your dog has come in contact with ice melt formulas, rinsing their feet will help reduce the irritation significantly.
If your dog ingests ice melt directly (before it’s been applied to ice), call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for further instruction.
If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you! Simply leave a comment below!