Paw Care for Dogs in Winter
Veterinarian Reviewed on December 11, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Winter weather can be very tough on your dog’s paws if you live in the north. With the onset of ice and snow comes salt to melt the ice. This salt can cause havoc with your dog’s paws. Prolonged contact with road salt and other chemical deicers can cause severe chemical burns to your dog’s feet. This can cause limping after a walk on the road or sidewalk in the winter. When possible, walk your dog off the sidewalk and on the snow or grass to avoid contact with the salt. If you have to walk on the sidewalk or roadway, consider investing in a pair or two of booties for your dog. There are many different types of boots available. Be sure they fit your dog properly or the boots may just fall off!
Deicing solutions can also cause problems if the dog licks it off of his feet or if he licks it off your boots. Rinse your dog’s feet with plain water after he comes in from outside. Rinse your boots as well. Try keeping some water in a pan by the door for this purpose–but make sure to empty it immediately after use so no one drinks it!
If you have a long haired dog, then ice balls can also create problems. These chunks of ice develop between the toes and the pads of long haired dogs that walk in snow or icy conditions. To prevent this keep the hair on the fee trimmed and check between the toes after cold weather walks.
Dogs can suffer frostbite if they are left out in the cold for long periods of time. Frostbite can affect the paws, ears and tail. Reduce your walks to reduce cold exposure for your dog. If you think your dog is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, seek veterinary attention immediately.
Cracked, dry and bleeding paws can also occur from the winter weather. A humidifier can help to keep the house moist and reduce the risk of cracked paws. Applying an ointment that contains beeswax and other healing ingredients is very important. PetWellbeing carries a Heal-Care Ointment for Dog Paw Injury. This ointment is good for bruised, cracked or injured paws.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan