Saturday, February 28, 2015

Protect your dog's paws during winter

During winter, a dog's paws may need some extra attention. The dog can get painful lumps of snow between their toes, most de-icers are toxic to dogs, and sidewalks can be covered in salt or other chemicals. 

Pay attention to your dog's paw pads. They can dry out and crack, get chemical burns, or frostbite.

Trim the hair around the paws and between the paw pads. This helps prevent snow and ice balls that can hurt the dog’s feet. Also make sure the nails are trimmed, because long nails will force the paw pads to separate when the dog walks, and this increases the risk of snow and ice building up between the pads.

If you live in an area with salt or extreme cold, you might want to consider booties for your dog. They can also help protect the dog's feet against hot asphalt in summertime, and against allergens if your dog is sensitive.

Most dogs require practice to accept wearing boots. Start with short periods of time inside the house and praise your dog for wearing them. Increase the length of time gradually, and when it's time to try outdoors, start with a short walk.

There is also paw wax formulated to serve as a barrier between paws and ground. The wax is a less effective solution than boots, but might be easier to get used to, and it's better than nothing.

Wash paws with warm water after each winter walk, so your dog doesn't get a chance to lick his or her feet. This is to protect from ingesting salt and other dangerous chemicals.

It is also important to know that dogs are susceptible to hypothermia. Use common sense and watch out for the dog shivering, appearing anxious, or moving slowly.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

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