By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
As a professional dog walker and pet sitter, it always breaks my heart this time of year to see pups picking up their paws on our walks, cutting short our outdoor exercise time. Paw protection is important not only for your dog’s safety, but it will allow for longer, more fruitful outdoor adventures this winter. Beat the weather, and keep your dog’s feet safe with these helpful tips!
Apply natural waxes to your dog’s pads prior to outdoor activities. Your dog’s feet often become the warriors of winter, as they trudge through all that snow, salt, and ice. As a professional dog walker, “salt burn” is common reason for walks to get cut short in the winter months. Protect them from the elements by coating each paw with a breathable barrier of natural waxes prior to walks and outdoor time. Musher’s Secret is a the brand I prefer, because it’s all natural, non-toxic, and it won’t stain your carpets or furniture. Just like lotion protects and soothes your skin, the natural waxes help condition your pup’s pads, reducing cracked skin and increasing resistant to harsher weather.
Consider doggie booties. If your pooch will accept wearing them, doggie booties can sometimes be the best and safest option for paw protection this winter. They can range from disposable to fitted, from economical to an investment. Pawz Dog Boots are disposable rubber booties that slip over your dogs feet to protect them from salt and snow. However, the thin rubber won’t provide much temperature support to your dog’s feet. If your pup suffers more from colder temperatures, consider a doggie UGG fitted boot, or PawTector dog booties, which are aimed at not only comfort, but warmth and protection from water and snow. For extreme hikers and active dogs, check out Ruff Wear’s Polar Trex — they not only keep your pooch’s paws warm and protected, but they also have excellent gripped traction for snow and ice!
Get in the habit of wiping your dog’s feet after coming in from outside. For quick potty breaks, a regular towel may do the trick. But for dogs with high exposure to salt, or after longer trips outside, rid of the chemical exposure by cleaning each pad with a pet wipe. Warm up your pup’s tootsies by wiping them down with a wet washcloth. This will also help break up any snow balling in the fur, and keep you attentive to any wounds or abrasions on the paws, before they worsen.
Use pet-safe ice melters. Regular salt can be irritating and burn your dog’s pads. This can create them to lick their paws, and when ingested, the salt can be equally as harmful to the intestinal tract as it is to the skin. If you must salt, use non-toxic pet-safe products such as Safe Paw Ice Melter. Encourage your neighbors to use the same.
Keep your dog’s paws and nails well groomed. Traction is challenging for us all this time of year, so make sure to be proactive for your pooch. Keep nails trimmed frequently to increase traction, and reduce splaying out on slippery ice. Trim away excess hair around the pads, to prevent snow from balling up and tangling the fur.
Don’t let winter keep you and your dog cooped up — protect those paws and make the most of it!