The Best Way To Protect Your Dog’s Paws This Winter
Here’s how to keep your dog's feet safe 🐾
Imagine walking around outside on your bare hands and feet in the dead of winter. Not fun, right?
Well, think about how your dog must feel when the temperature drops!
With so many different elements coming into play — like the cold, the snow and all that salt — it’s important to take extra special care of your pup’s paws in the winter.
So we spoke with Dr. Julian Rivera, a veterinarian at West Village Veterinary Hospital in New York City, to find out the best ways to keep your dog’s paws safe.
How the winter weather affects your dog’s paws
Obviously, the snow and the cold can be tough on those little pads.
The freezing temperatures are intense on their own, especially while walking on concrete sidewalks. After all, those things can get cooooold.
But when you add wet snow into the mix, your pup could be dealing with more than just a case of the shivers.
“Temperature extremes can also lead to irritation and even frostbite on your pet’s paws,” Dr. Rivera told The Dodo.
And that’s not the only thing working against him.
All the salt people use to de-ice streets, sidewalks and walkways are actually super harsh on your dog’s paws.
“This salt can be extremely irritating to your pet’s paw pads,” he explained. “Imagine how chapped your own hands might get in winter weather, and add rubbing salt in those wounds.”
Signs to watch for
Your dog can’t always tell you what’s wrong, or when his paws are in pain. So, be sure to look out for symptoms like:
- Lifting his paws up or stopping while on a walk
- Licking his paws
- Pale skin
A lot of paw irritation can be minor, and won’t require a trip to the vet. But, if things get a bit more severe, you’re going to want to get your dog some medical attention.
Symptoms like thirst and vomiting happen after your dog has licked salt off his paws and accidentally swallowed some in the process.
If you think your dog ingested de-icing salt, take him to the vet right away, because it could cause convulsions or even kidney damage.
When your dog’s skin becomes pale, that’s a sign of frostbite. And when he warms back up, his poor paws could get red and swollen, and peel.
You can help him out by using a warm towel, but if his frostbitten skin becomes dark, he needs immediate medical attention.
The best dog paw prevention tips
No one wants their dog to experience that kind of pain or discomfort, especially if he’s going outside for that walk he loves, or just to do his business.
Luckily, Dr. Rivera does have some ideas for keeping your BFF’s paws warm and safe — like investing in a nice set of dog booties, to act as a buffer between his toes and the elements.
“These prevent all of those irritants like salt and ice from starting to damage their feet in the first place,” he said.
But if you’re on a budget, Dr. Rivera says even just a simple wipedown to remove salt and ice after a walk goes a long way.