We can all agree that a pup in winter booties is just too cute! While they are an adorable fashion accessory, did you know boots can also help keep your dog’s paws safe and healthy during the cold winter months?
Just like our skin, the winter can also wreak havoc on your dog’s paws. Between the effects of cold, snow, ice and salt, there are many reasons that a fresh new pair of winter boots may not be a bad idea for your dog!
Cold. Dogs out in the cold for long periods of times could be at risk for frostbite on their paws and hypothermia. Be sure to monitor how long your dog spends outside during the day, especially when the temperatures drop below freezing!
Snow and Ice. A common cause of sore and cracked paws during the cold winter months are the ice balls which form between the pads and toes of dogs with furry feet. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can fur on the feet contribute to the development of ice balls, paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts from the sidewalks and roads. If your dog’s feet are on the furry side, consider getting them trimmed them throughout the winter months.
Salt. One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on your dog’s paws! If your dog is limping by end of a walk, these salts may be hurting their feet. If you dog does not have boots, try to keep them off the salty sidewalk or road in the grass or snow whenever possible.
Another threat comes from de-icers if your dog licks their paws or your boots, and ingests them. These salts are toxic! To prevent this from happening, keep a shallow bowl of warm water and a cloth near the entryway to your home so that you can wipe your boots and your dog’s paws when coming back inside.
If boots just aren’t for your dog, gently washing your dog’s paws after each trip outside can help keep them healthy. You can also help prevent cracked and bleeding paw pads by applying petroleum jelly or paw wax before your dog goes outside.
Paw wax is another great alternative and is applied to the pads of the feet before a walk, forming a protective barrier between the paw and the salty sidewalk or pavement.
Whether or not your dog should wear booties is all up to you! Some dogs may not feel comfortable in them in the backyard, while others spend most of their time outside walking on pavement and may need a little extra protection. Either way, please be aware of potential risks when it comes to snow, ice, and salt, and contact your veterinarian if your dog is limping or seems to have hurt paws after being outside. We hope you have a great, warm, and safe winter!