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The snowfall this time of year has an undeniable beauty. Sheets of white coating the parks and paths make morning walks with your dog an even better time to slow down, take a breath, and appreciate the outdoors.
With the crisp mornings and continuous snowfalls, though, come another thing: Painful pup paws.
Your dog’s paws might be acclimated to off-road and trail hiking. Throw some ice and snow into the mix, though, and it’s a whole different story.
Once salt and deicers hit the roads and sidewalks, it’s time to take a few extra minutes before and after each walk to care for your dog’s paws. Follow these steps every time you head outdoors with your pup, and you’ll be helping them avoid paw trauma and pain that’s commonly associated with icy, winter walks.
1. Trim Their Hair
The first thing you should do when temperatures start to drop is trim the hair on their feet. Have you ever checked your dog’s paws for “feathering” (long hair growth around and between the pads of their paws)?
Leaving this hair in-tact gives snow and ice the opportunity to cling to it during and after walks; it also allows ice to travel up between the pads of your dog’s feet as the moisture builds on their fur.
Ice, snow, and salt between your dog’s pads are a bad combination that can lead to lots of pain, discomfort, and possibly prolonged injury. Keeping the bottom of their paws free of any feathering is the first step toward preventing this from happening.
2. Apply Paw Balm
Paw balm is a petroleum-jelly-type substance that protects and heals dog’s paws. There are countless brands and types on the market, but of course, we suggest choosing an all-natural brand, like Musher’s Wax or something similar (regular petroleum jelly is typically okay to try, too).
Balm can be applied to your dog’s paws before walks or hikes in the ice and snow. Be sure to only apply it after any hair has been trimmed from between the pads of their paws. The wax or petroleum jelly will act as a protective layer between the ice, salt, and snow and your dog’s feet.
The balm can also be used if you notice your pup’s paws drying out and becoming cracked - it’s excellent for curing that itchy, cracked skin that typically comes with winter.
3. Rinse Their Paws
Rock salt and other deicers contain chemicals that can be extremely harmful to your dog’s paws. Every time you come inside after a walk, make sure you rinse their feet off. Try using a warm washcloth to wipe any ice or salt off of them. It it gets between the pads of their paws, it can be incredibly painful for them to deal with, so do your best to prevent it from happening at all.
Once their feet are rinsed, you can go ahead and apply some balm to keep them from drying out. We also suggest rinsing your own shoes or boots every time you come in, too. We all know dogs love to lick things - any salt or chemicals that come in on you have a good chance of ending up in their mouths. Rinse your shoes, or keep them in a place your dog can’t reach.
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4. Choose a Safe Deicer
You can’t control what everyone in the neighborhood uses to de-ice their sidewalks, but you can decide what goes around your own home.
Rock salts and other deicers tend to have strong chemicals in them - it’s why they corrode metal and have “not safe for children” warnings on the labels.
If a deicer can ruin the underside of your car or cause harm to your kid, it’s not safe for your dog either. If it ends up lodged between their paw pads, any added moisture will bring its temperature up (hence the reason it’s used to melt ice).
A de-icer in between paw pads will likely cause your dog to lick, which won’t just make it painful on their paws - it could also cause burns to the paws and gastrointestinal problems if it’s ingested.
When you head to the store to find a pet-safe de-icer, don’t just go by what the label says (regulations are nearly non-existent in this area). Instead, check to see if it’s safe for kids to be around. If it is, it’s likely safe for your dog, too. If it’s not, keep looking.
5. Consider Boots
Your dog probably won’t love it, but a great solution to avoiding any paw trauma from ice and snow is to have your dog wear boots.
There are tons of available options - most look like socks with a slim sole that velcro around the leg. By dressing your pup’s feet up every time you go outside, they’ll be preventing all salt, ice, and snow from building up and causing pain.
Most dogs need a little persuasion to get used to wearing boots. Try putting them on for short periods indoors before heading outside for the first time. Keep a bag of healthy treats on hand while they’re being oriented. Liver bites are perfect go-tos for this type of “training” session that’ll require lots of positive reinforcement.
After your dog gets used to the boots indoors, head outside for some fun in the snow.
All of Safe Bones Company dog bones and dog treats are 100% Natural and Made in the U.S.A. at our facilities in the beautiful state of Nebraska.
You’ll never need to be concerned with low quality imported products, or overly processed dog bones, jerky, or other treats. Shop now and treat your dog to something special.
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