A puppy playing in the snow

As winter keeps its icy grip, the spring thaw probably seems far away. You’ve probably taken precautions to keep your pets safe from freezing temperatures and extreme weather. But what about the steps (ahem) needed to ensure winter paw safety? 

Snow and ice, not to mention the dry air and de-icing chemicals, can all wreak havoc on your pet’s sensitive paws. 

Keep reading to learn how to keep your dog’s paws safe in winter weather, from your friends at Androscoggin Animal Hospital.

Steppin’ Out

It may seem prudent to stay cozy and warm inside all winter long. But all dogs need to go outside to use the bathroom, and many simply need to burn off energy and have a snowy walk or run.

When out walking your dog, tailor the length of your outside time based on the temperatures. If it’s too cold for you, chances are it’s too cold for your dog, too. 

The Bootie Question

If you’ve been wondering about dog booties, go ahead and give them a try. Although finding the right fit may be a challenge, booties can protect your dog’s feet from injury, prevent dry and cracked pads, and offer extra warmth. 

Training your dog to wear booties before venturing out in them is important. Once you’ve found the right size, try them on your dog around the house. Offer lots of treats and praise, and keep wearing sessions short at first. Once your dog is comfortable, try a short walk outside. You’ll work up to longer outings in no time. 

Winter Paw Care…

Good paw grooming is important any time of year, but winter time warrants some special attention. Snowpack, debris, and ice can easily get lodged in between your pet’s toes. To prevent this, trim the long hairs in between toes regularly and make sure nails are kept trimmed. Shorter nails make it easier for your pet to walk and can prevent torn nails.

It’s also smart to check and wipe off your pet’s feet with a towel when coming inside from the outdoors. Even better, rinse off paws in lukewarm water and dry thoroughly with a towel. This will rinse off any snow, ice, or chemicals your pet may have picked up on her paws during her stroll.

Another great grooming practice is to use a paw balm such as Musher’s Secret, which uses natural and non toxic waxes and oils to protect your pet’s sensitive paw pads from chemicals, salt, and harsh temperatures.  

…And Safety

Speaking of salt, many products designed as deicers can be harmful to your pet if ingested. And many (most) pets will lick and groom themselves after being outside. This means that washing and drying feet after being outside is a must. 

We also recommend using pet safe ice melts or salts on your property. When you’re walking your dog, try to stay away from areas that appear to have been heavily treated. 

If you notice any soreness, discomfort, or irritation of your dog’s paws, please call us right away to schedule an appointment.