Being mid-January here in Michigan, snow and freezing cold temperatures are all around us. This doesn’t stop dogs from needing to exercise and burn energy! There are also dogs who are built for the cold who may not even want to come inside.
We all know that their fur protects them from the cold, and there are plenty of sweaters and coats to help them as well. But what about their paws? Their paws are what touches the snow and ice that covers the ground. Humans also put out salt and other products that could hurt the pads on your dog’s paws.
So what can we do to help our dogs enjoy winter? There are a few and very simple ways that we can do protect their paws against the harsh winter elements!
Some people may think they look silly, but I find them the best protection for your furry friend in the snow! They will prevent any ice and snow from gathering between their toes, and keep those melting products away. It may take your dog time to get used to them, so I would just slowly work your way to using them. Start the process in the summer/fall so that when winter comes around your dog will be comfortable wearing them! Start as slow as your dog needs, introducing them and giving rewards for each step of the process. I will have a page of references with a website that goes into detail how to help your dog get used to their new boots!
*Paw Balms/Petroleum Jelly-Based Products
These products help keep a protective layer over their feet to help keep a barrier between the paw pads and snow. They also help keep their paws nice and hydrated, as we all know dry skin is an issue in the winter! There are dog specific paw balms, which make sure the ingredients are safe for dogs and which is what I typically use. A few websites I found suggested petroleum jelly-based products like Vasoline but I personally have not tried that with my own dog.
*Keep a Towel Handy
When coming inside, make sure to wipe down their feet and their bodies to make sure they are nice and dry. Get in between their toes to make sure nothing is hiding in there. If salt or ice melting products are stuck in their toes it could cause irritations to happen. There are paw moisturizers that you can put on after they come inside as well to help with paw health and can be used year round!
*Keep Walks Short
I understand that some breeds out there like the husky, malamute, saint bernard etc do not want to be inside during this time. For other dogs, keep your walks short. There may also be indoor agility courses you can take your dog to to help burn out some energy! If your dog seems to be getting restless, I would recommend getting a couple interactive toys that are like puzzles to help them keep busy while the days are shorter and they may not be able to get outside like they can during the warmer months.
I hope this article helps those in colder climates help care for their dogs better while we still get through these next few months! Stay warm!
Klein, J., & CVO. (2021, February 18). Protect your dog’s paws from snow, ice, salt – American Kennel Club. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/vets-corner/protect-dogs-paws-snow-ice-salt/
Protect Your Dog’s Paws in Winter Weather. (n.d.). Animalhumanesociety.org. https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/news/protect-your-dogs-paws-winter-weather#:~:text=If%20boots%20don’t%20feel,keeps%20their%20paw%20pads%20hydrated