As I am writing this we just got our first good snow/freeze of the season. Somehow it always sneaks up on me and I realize there are a ton of winterizing things I meant to do but hadn’t gotten around to yet. The warm days really lull you into a false sense of security!
But now that winter is upon us it is time to get ready. And one thing that is easy to forget is your dog’s paws!
Your furry friend’s four little feet can take a serious beating in colder climates and so it is important to make sure you protect them so that your pup can spend more time playing in the snow and less time nursing injuries.
1. Use Pet-Friendly Salt
If you live in a cold state you know how important it can be to lay down salt.
It breaks down ice and prevents people from falling and slipping. But it can also cause serious irritation to not only your dog’s paws but also his eyes, nose, throat, and GI system.
There are pet friendly salts on the market, like Safe-T-Pet, but know that there is still no such thing as a totally pet safe salt. Ingesting these substances can be very harmful.
Another option is to lay down sand (Traction Magic is specifically great for pets). While the grit can be rough on the bottom of your dog’s paws, it prevents any chemical irritations, which can be the lesser of two evils.
2. Do Proper Paw Care
No matter what you use, taking good care of your dog’s paws before and after he goes outside is crucial. Applying a layer of petroleum jelly or paw wax can help protect paws from ice and salt.
Be sure to gently rinse your dog’s paws with cool water and towel them dry when they come in from walks.
And always be cognizant of the temperature. Keep walks short when it is quite chilly. Of course, larger dogs or long-haired dogs will be tougher than tight-coated or small dogs.
3. Try Booties
While not for every dog, booties can be a great option to protect your dogs paws from the harsh elements during the winter months and even when it is quite hot out, too!
I like the Pawz booties because they are less invasive than other types of booties. My dog hates things on his feet and since his paws are so small he has a hard time moving around in more cumbersome booties.
While these aren’t incredibly durable they do the job and it is rare that I have to use them anyways.
My editor, Kayla, really likes Ruffwear booties for her dog Barley. They’re super tough, but that also means they’re stiff and harder for the dog to get used to.
4. Play LOTS of Indoor Games
One of the biggest issues for us in winter is finding energy outlets inside. Since some days are too cold for long walks or trips to the dog park, we have to get creative inside.
I like to clear a large space and fill it with toys. Getting other people involved is even more fun! Setting aside 20-30 minutes of time to get your dog physically and mentally stimulated can go a long ways.
This can reduce destructive behavior and help get them to bed on time so you aren’t getting toys plopped on your head when you lay down to sleep (which has happened).
Winter can be a fun and tough time for both you and your dog. With a bit of proper care and planning you can make the most of the cold months.
Plan ahead for nice weather opportunities to get outside with your pup, and have backup plans for fun indoor activities when it is chilly.
Always remember to be on the lookout for any potential paw, ear, nose, or throat problems, as snow melt season is prime time for your dog to get sick.