Even with the cold winter months, most dogs can still go outside on walks thanks to their “fur coat”, however, one aspect pet parents must be mindful of on behalf of your dog is paw protection. While many dogs will willingly walk through the snow and ice, they also need your help to keep your their paws safe during the cold winter months.
Paw protection can be often overlooked, however, with mother nature being more unpredictable than ever, there are new, harsh products being used on the sidewalks and streets without concern for the pet’s walking on them. Technically, there are a few companies that have began producing “paw friendly” salt for ice, however, how do you know which salt your neighbor or your town/city government is using?
One of the most dangerous ways that salt can harm your dog is through ingestion. While your dog may not actually be licking the salt off the sidewalk, many dogs lick their paws and ultimately, are ingesting the harsh chemicals they just walked on. Even if your dog does not lick his/her paws, salt pellets can become embedded in your dog’s paws, especially the paw’s webbing. This is turn can actually heat your dog’s paws up to around 170 degrees! While it does seem ironic that your dog’s paws can actually burn in the winter months, this happens all to often.
Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Paws!!
Yes, you read that right, boots! Boots are becoming more popular than ever among pet parents. Although many brands offer boots in a variety of colors and/or accessories for your dog’s boots, they are much more than a fashion statement. Boots are the best way to keep your dog’s paws safe from touching the ground, as they act as a protective layer between your dog’s paws and any chemicals on the ground.
Below, is our Guest Blog Contributor, Ryan with his dog Fen. This adventuring duo is preparing to head outside in the snowy streets of Buffalo. Watch as Ryan slips on Fen’s winter boots with ease. The more you practice paw protection with your dog, the easier the process of getting ready to go outside will be. Soon, you’ll be a pro just like Ryan and Fen! (To read more about Ryan and Fen’s adventures, check out their Fan Feature post.)
It may take your dog a few times to adjust and learn how to properly walk in their boots, as shown below. Should your dog do the “first time in boots walk”, do not be alarmed. Remember, boots are not natural for dogs and can take some getting used to.
(video credit: @ted_gram)
- Be sure to give your dog lots of praise and reassure him that he is a “good boy.”
- Before putting your dog’s boots on, allow him to sniff and become familiar with the boots.
- Consider putting your dog’s boots on in your home where he is most comfortable and allow him to walk inside before going out on your walk. Avoid putting them on outside, especially if it is slippery, as it may be difficult for your dog to walk correctly in the boots the first couple of times.
Once you have put your dog’s boots on a few times, most dog’s will get used to them and may even welcome them, as they will quickly pick up that boots equal a walk outside! Once inside from your walk, you may want to give your dog’s paws a wipe down with a warm cloth or quick washing for even more protection. While most boots are very durable, depending on your dog’s walking style and uses, they can wear down over time.
Paw Protectant Wax!
So you tried the boots route and it was an absolute no go for your dog? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Boots just aren’t for some dogs and the last thing you want to do is overstress your dog. Another option for paw protection is a paw protectant wax. There are many natural wax products available for your dog. Simply rub the wax generously onto your dog’s paw before heading outside. As an extra precaution, use your fingers to rub some extra wax in between your dog’s toes and below or around any excess fur on the bottom of your dog’s paws. Paw protectant wax dries pretty quickly, but you should still put it on a few minutes before you plan on heading outside.
Once you’ve completed your walk and come back inside, it is highly suggested to give your dog’s paws a mini soaking and bath session to remove any salt or chemicals that may have attached to the outside layer of the wax. As we always say, better safe than sorry!
While many dogs may not enjoy bath time, after a few trips, you may convince your dog that paw soaking isn’t nearly as bad. Make sure that the water is warm, but not too hot and while you are washing your dog’s paws, try giving him a paw massage. Many dogs welcome this after a long walk.
A paw moisturizer is not the same thing as a paw protectant wax and should not be treated as such. While a paw moisturizer is good for after baths or paw soakings to help alleviate dry and/or cracked pads, it will not protect your dog’s paws in the same way that a wax will. A paw moisturizer is meant to be soaked up by and into the dog’s pads, while a paw protectant wax will remain on the outside of a dog’s pad to act as a protective layer.
You know your dog best and know what he will or will not tolerate. With the concern of paw safety growing, there are more and more options becoming readily available for pet parents to choose from. We want your dogs to be safe and happy this winter season. We’d love to hear how your protect your dog’s paws. Leave a comment below or visit our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages to show us your paw protectant photos!
Feature Photo: Atlantic Veterinary Hospital