Are your dog’s paws dry and cracked? Can dogs paws freeze in snow? YES, they can! How do you protect your dog’s paws in the winter?
This week in Wisconsin it’s been below zero, too cold to spend more than just a few minutes outside. Even a quick walk around the block can be dangerous, and on these days we usually opt for indoor activities.
But when the temps are above freezing, we head out for our daily walk, and protecting my dog’s paws from the dangers of winter is my top priority.
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You may think the only way to protect your dog’s paws in the winter is to have him wear winter dog boots, but there are easier alternatives.
I will be honest, I have never used winter dog booties for my dogs. We actually tried some on our dog Bear, and he wouldn’t even put his foot down… he did not like them at all. While I’m sure with some conditioning training, he would eventually get used to them, I’m not sure I want the hassle of putting boots on my dogs every time we go out for a walk.
If you can find winter dog boots that stay on your dog and your dog is willing, then go for it. It’s just not my thing.
If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can try to make your own winter dog boots. I found this great tutorial How to Make Dog Booties.
If your dog’s paws are dry and cracked, then you need to start using a dog paw moisturizer right away.
I first learned of Musher’s Secret when our dog Bear tore his paw pads from climbing in and out of the rocky lake bottom. I coated his paw pads with the Musher’s Secret and wrapped his paws with gauze for several days until they healed.
I don’t have scientific numbers to share, but I do know that the first time Bear tore his pads, we didn’t use the Mushers Secret and they tore open again the next week. The second time is when I used the Musher’s Secret and Bear hasn’t had issues since.
Musher’s Secret was developed for sled dogs, so you can be assured that this stuff will work for your dog! It’s like an invisible winter boot for your dog. Musher’s Secret is all natural and protects from the heat, cold and chemicals.
If you ever wondered what can I put on my dog’s dry paws? Musher’s Secret also moisturizes the paw pads, so it could be beneficial even if your only issue is cracked paw pads.
The Musher’s Secret recommends applying 1-2 times a week year round, and more often during extreme weather conditions, such as cold, snow and ice. We personally only apply it to our dog’s paws occasionally throughout the year, and maybe once a week during the winter.
There are also some great home recipes for making your own Dog Paw Wax. It’s on my list of want-to-do and will make sure to share when I do. For now, here is my favorite.
You can’t control the chemicals people use to melt the ice on the sidewalks and roads. These chemicals can be toxic to your dog, so it’s important to clean your dog’s paws as soon as you come inside. After taking a walk outside in the winter slush, simply clean your dog’s paws with a warm soapy washcloth or keep a box of pet wipes at the door for convenience.
I bought Earthbath Grooming Wipes for the first time last month, and so far I like them a lot. It’s convenient to just pull a wipe out after our walks.
While you are cleaning your dog’s paws, examine his pads, nails and between the toes for any cuts or foreign objects. Regularly checking your dog’s paws will help keep him healthy.
Trimming your dog’s nails are vital all year long. I dread trimming our dog’s nails, and I’m sure most of you do too. But if you allow the nails to get too long, there are so many other issues that can occur. The nails can break when running on the ice or snow, causing injury to the paw.
I can trim Bears nails, but Ginger is so much of a struggle that I opt to take her to the vet’s office to have them trim her nails. If you aren’t comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, I highly suggest bringing her to a groomer or vet. Don’t let the nails get too long, it’s not worth the risks.
If your dog has long hair, it’s likely the hair between the paw pads is long too. Trimming this hair helps keep snow and chemicals from getting impacted inside the paw pad area. You can simply trim with small scissors or an electric shaver.
While you cannot control what your neighbor’s use, you can control your own driveway and sidewalk. Using a pet-safe ice melt will lower the risk of your dog bringing any inside your house.
How can I keep my dog’s paws from freezing? It’s important to pay attention to the temps, weather apps will give you an estimated time for frostbite. Adhere to the warnings. On days that are below zero, try playing some indoor games with your dog instead of heading out in the frozen tundra!
Overall, just use common sense. If it’s too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your dog. There are some dog breeds that live for the cold, but still be careful and protect your dog.
P.S. I’d love to hear what you do to protect your dog’s paws in winter, comment below and help our Rescue Dogs 101 Community.
P.S.S. If you haven’t downloaded our free Dog Health Record printable yet do it NOW!
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Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... were she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.