Protect Your Dogs Paws in the Winter and other useful tips!
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Well, in most of the Northern Hemisphere in January, the snow and ice along with the grit on the paths and sidewalks can truly be a menace to our dog’s sensitive paw pads.
With that in mind here are some great tips to help you and your dog through these next few chilly months.
Fur can provide a measure of warmth for your pet, but fur that is long can also pick up clumps of snow and ice, making it uncomfortable for them.
Buy them doggie sweaters or knit one yourself.
They will keep your dog warm and make them look even more adorable.
Between The Toes
Grit and salts that are used to melt the ice can be especially hazardous to our dogs and can make their paws extremely sore.
If you are walking in an area that you know has been salted and your dog has walked through it, on your return make sure that you wipe off their paws when you get back home.
Make sure you check between the toes also for any grit or salt that has wedged itself in between too as this can be extremely painful and will cause rubbing and that can lead to broken skin and possible infection.
Many areas salt icy streets to provide traction. This salt or deicer can be painful to dogs if they get into cracks in their paws.
By rubbing a thin film of petroleum jelly on the bottom of their paws, it will lessen the amount of salt that sticks to them.
When you get back home, be sure to clean their feet so that they will always be able to walk comfortably.
Trim The Paw Fur
The areas around your dogs pads can get easily filled with snow, grit or salt when you are out on a walk, so it’s good practice to try to trim the hair around the pads and try to keep it short, at least as short as the pad itself and this will stop all of those nasties having anything to cling on to.
If your dog is a particular short-coated breed this may not be too much of an issue, but still inspect their pads after a walk as this kind of foreign body easily gets lodged in between the toes.
This is something that can easily get overlooked at any time throughout a dog’s life. Claw and nail trimming can be a real issue for many owners and if it is something you are simply not confident of doing yourself or if you have a particularly nervous animal, it is always best to get it done by a professional like a groomer or vet.
Long nails make your dog’s toes spread more when they are standing or walking.
This, in turn, allows more debris to collect between the toes, and snow and ice can easily build up between them.
This can make for a pretty unpleasant and painful walk for your dog (they are always walking barefoot remember!)
Untrimmed nails will actually make your dog walk unbalanced and this will in effect push their weight onto their back paws and it will make them unstable and also the gait of your dog will be affected and they will lose traction.
This can cause slips on icy surfaces and if you have them on the lead, it could take you down too.
These are a great alternative idea to keep your dog’s feet warm and secure and to give them some traction.
Another misconception is that snow is a substitute for freshwater.
Make sure that your pet always has fresh water available to drink, regardless of the weather conditions.
Be Careful Out There
It goes without saying that at this time of year it is also more hazardous to us as dog walkers.
Try to avoid walking on icy paths if you can and this may mean varying walk routes or indeed shorter more regular walks.
Be mindful of what could lurk under snow as well when walking your dogs as the lovely white blanket of white could well be hiding something that could cut your dog’s paw.
Try to avoid areas where there could be a frozen pond, canal or lake as dogs off the lead love to explore and they could easily get into difficulty.
The ice may be way too thin to support the weight of a dog and it has happened in the UK regularly that dogs do fall into frozen water and the temperatures are often fatal for our dogs and for the people who try to rescue them.
Try to avoid these areas if possible, but if you can’t as it is part of the walk, try and keep your dog away from waters edges and on the lead at all times.
Be aware of exactly how cold it is, including the wind chill factor.
A doghouse is good to have but may not protect them from frostbite on their extremities.
Be sure to bring your pet in out of the cold.
Put down a warm blanket for them to sleep on since tiles can be cold.
You can also purchase beds made for dogs at your local pet store.
Damp fur can be uncomfortable for your pet.
When coming back from a walk in rainy or snowy conditions, be sure to dry them off, preferably with a blow dryer.
These tips and ideas are not exhaustive and many of them are common sense really and a good dog walker will know most of them.
That said, we sometimes get complacent and this is when accidents can happen.
The darker nights and mornings have always been a particular bugbear where I live as it is quite rural and we have a lot of farming going on near me.
I wear a high visibility coat when I take my dog out for walks as the country lanes and general countryside can be quite unforgiving.
I carry a torch and a cell phone too as there are fewer people around too because of the weather and season.
These coats are great as they have all the weatherproofing you need, plus many pockets for flashlights and cell phones along with treats and poop bags..it really does pay to be seen when out walking in poor weather.
These are all things to consider to make you and your dog enjoy your walks and don’t worry…the summer will soon be here!