Winter safety tips: Protecting your pup's paws
Lots of dogs love the winter time. Playing in the snow can be a lot of fun for them, and what dog doesn't enjoy snuggling up with his or her humans on a cold winter night? But the cold weather, snow, and ice can present some dangers to our furry friends as well. Did you know that paw injuries and/or discomfort are some of the most common winter time dog aliments? Learning about the winter time dangers to your pet's paws and how to help prevent them can help you and your pup enjoy the cold season a bit more comfortably.
One of the most common cause of paw problems in the winter time isn't caused by the snow, ice, or cold itself, but by products that humans use to help combat the effects of the cold. Salts used to melt ice on the roads and sidewalks can be harmful to our pooches. Road salts, like other types of salts, are chemicals. Not only can the salt get stuck to our dog's feet and become a physical irritant, but it can also cause chemical burns. There are pet-safe ice melting products out there, but many individuals and citys/towns still use traditional road salt in the winter time, making these potentially dangerous products hard to avoid. Other than irritating doggy toes, road salt can be dangerous if dogs ingest the salts either directly or by licking it off their feet. Small amounts of road salt consumption may lead to minor symptoms such as increased thirst and diarrhea, but large amounts of these chemicals can cause low blood pressure, decreased muscle function, weakness and fainting, and in very serious causes seizures, comas, and death.
Other winter time dangers to your pet's paws includes snow balling of the hair between the toes, dry paw pads, and injuries from sharp pieces of ice. If snow balls form in the hair between your dog's toes, it can cause their paws to become sore and make walking normally uncomfortable. Like with us humans, the cold dry air can lead to dog's having dry skin and dry paw pads. Cracking, sometimes to the extent of bleeding and pain, can occur when paws are allowed to become extremely dry. Sharp pieces of ice can be hard to avoid in the winter time, and like pieces of glass can cause cuts and injuries to dog's feet. Other than these dangers, keep in mind that dog's feet can also become very cold, especially after spending a lot of time out in the snow and ice.
So what can you do to help keep your best friends feet more comfortable this winter? Here are some tips!
- On your own property, if you need to use deicing products look for products that are pet friendly. There are animal safe brands of deicing products sold, or you can instead use sand or kitty litter out on your walk ways.
- Keep your dog's feet well groomed. If your dog has long hair on the bottom of his/her feet, keep the hair trimmed and clean to help prevent it from collecting snow balls.
- Keep a cup of warm water and a towel near your door. When you come inside after walking your dog, you can use the towel to clean any salt or snow off of your dog before he/she has the opportunity to lick his/her paws.
- Think about getting your dog some booties. Sure a few people may laugh at you, but it's the best way to protect your dogs feet from the snow, ice, salt, and cold.
- If you or your dog don't like the idea of dog booties, there are many different paw waxes on the market. Paw waxes work to form a protective coating on your dog's paws, protecting them from the elements. However, paw waxes must be reapplied often, and they don't stop salt from sticking to your dogs paws so you will still need to be careful and watch for salt ingestion.
- Keep an eye on your dog, and bring him/her inside to warm up when necessary. Remember that dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frost bite, so it's important not to leave your dog outside too long in the cold.