As most dog owners know, regular walks and outdoor playtime are hard on paws in winter. Here are some tips for keeping your pup’s paws safe.
- Don’t leave your dog outside unattended, even in a secured area that they’re used to roaming during warm weather. Keeping a close eye on your pooch is key to making sure the cold isn’t taking its toll.
- Shorten time spent outdoors, especially in extreme cold. Obviously, the less time exposed, the better. If you’re on a walk and your dog starts showing signs of being too cold (shaking his paws when he picks them up or even limping), it’s time to turn around and go home—whether he did his business or not.
- Gear up with a coat and booties, if your dog will tolerate it. Some dogs can’t stand wearing clothes, and some don’t even need them, but if your dog has a wiry or thin coat with just a single layer of fur, it needs some protective gear. Even if she’ll only wear booties on her hind paws, it’s still better than nothing in extreme cold.
- Stick to the grass instead of salted pavement. The salt that’s essential to keeping sidewalks safe for human pedestrians can seriously hurt a dog’s paws, so keep your dog walking in grassy areas, and if possible/necessary, carry her over salted patches of pavement.
- Clean your dog’s paws as soon as you get back inside. Use a clean towel to wipe down all four paws, thaw out any clumps of snow that might have gotten caught in long fur, and check between the pads of each paw to make sure no salt has gotten stuck.
- Don’t allow your dog to lick its paws. Excessive licking can cause sores (and stinky feet!), but it’s also a sign that your dog’s paws hurt. If you notice him licking, give his paws a closer look and make sure they’re clean and not injured in any way.