It doesn’t matter if it is cold out or a beautiful day, when you get ready to go outside you usually stop to put your shoes on. Why do we wear shoes? To protect our feet from the elements outside. When you let your dog out, there is a good chance that you just hook your dog up to its leash and out you all go. Outside elements can be pretty harsh on your dog’s paws. That is why it is important to keep your dog’s paws safe from any of the harsh elements your pup could come across while outside.
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Winter is probably one of the harshest seasons on your dog’s paws. Everything from the cold freezing them to salt irritating them. Here are some of the ways your dog can hurt its paws during winter:
Many ice melt brands work wonders on our sidewalks, patios, and decks, But, when your dog’s paws are exposed to them they can become very irritated. Not to mention if the ice melt is ingested it can be deadly.
This is why I recommend that you look for a pet-safe ice melt. These aren’t completely safe, but they are far less toxic than non-pet friendly brands (and usually better for wildlife and plants as well).
When it comes to ice it isn’t just the slipping that can be an issue for your dog (although this is a big concern). If the ice is jagged it can cut your pup’s feet, in-between its toes, or under its nails. If your dog is left standing on the ice for too long it can also damage the pads on their feet and potentially cause frostbite.
Slush isn’t so much of an issue while you are out walking (aside from just being cold and usually mucky) if it is a puddle or two. The only time slush would be an issue is if your dog’s paws were exposed persistently during the walk. If your route is mostly slush it is best to find a new place to walk or avoid it altogether as you don’t want to freeze your dog’s paws. Potential damage can also happen if there are little rocks and other sharp objects mixed into the slush.
When your dog’s paws are exposed to the winter elements it can make for an unhappy canine. Depending on what they were exposed to it could mess with not only their paws but also their whole body.
The pads on the bottom of your dog’s feet are a major source of heat loss when they are exposed to icy and snowy conditions for too long. When your dog has been outside in cold conditions for too long, the blood flow to the pads on their feet minimizes and focuses on their core.
The automatic switch in blood flow is a safety mechanism meant to keep the core temperature of your dog at a safe level for a short period of time.
When your dog is outside for extended periods of time, their fur (including the hairs around their paws) gets wet and can freeze. This freezing can cause snowballs and blocks of ice to form. Yes, it looks really cute when your dog comes bounding in looking like a snowman but this can be dangerous.
The ice that forms on their paws can be sharp and cut into your dog’s toes making it painful to walk. And while their paw pads are pretty thick, the ice can cause cuts which can eventually lead to chilblains. Chilblains are red sores which may only show up days later and can cause severe infections if left untreated. These can also appear on the ears and tails of your dogs as well.
How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Short Walks or Stay In
During the winter it is still important to get your dog out for walks but they should be shorter walks. There are many factors that determine how long a dog can be outside—their size, type of coat, and how accustomed they are to that environment. Here is a general chart that can help you determine how long your dog can be outside for walks this winter:
|Size of your dog||Temperature*||Time|
*All temperatures include the windchill.
PetPlan1 created a guide based on the Tufts Animal Condition and Care (TACC) system which easily shows how cold is too cold for your pet.
There comes a point during the winter when it just isn’t safe to take your dog for a walk. Small dogs shouldn’t be out if the temperature is less than 20℉. Medium and large dogs can be out when it is a bit colder but should stay inside if it is 0℉ or colder.
Dry Your Dog’s Paws
After walking or playing with your dog outside, take a few minutes to gently clean their paws off with a towel. While doing this make sure to pay close attention to between each of your dogs’ toes, around their pads, and under their nails.
Dog booties have led to some pretty funny videos online (including this one of Dylan trying on booties for the first time several years ago). But, they are good for more than some pretty good laughs. Putting booties on your dog’s paws will help protect them from any and all elements outside during walks. Their feet may still get a bit cold depending on the type of booties you choose, but they will stay clean and dry.
You go through great lengths to keep your feet warm and dry while you are out during the winter months. So, why not do the same for your precious pup? It is important to not miss walks (since exercise is important for dogs too). But it is even more important to keep them safe while doing it. I hope you found some useful information to help you keep your dog’s paws safe. If I forgot your favorite tip please leave it below so I can check it out too.REFERENCES