How to take care of your dogs paws in winter
Winter can be tough on delicate paws. Hard cuts on snow, ice and frozen ground can wear down the otherwise soft tread pads. If you live in a city where salt is used to prevent slipping in the winter, the salt can, if you're unlucky, create cracks in your paws that irritate and bother them.
Fortunately, you can prevent and fix the problems quite easily if you detect them in time. A daily check of paws and pads is recommended.
Preventive paw care for the dog
Well-kept paws are better able to withstand the elements. If you have a dog with a lot of fur between the foot pads, you should groom it regularly. This way, the paws dry faster when the dog comes in and your dog avoids lumps of ice between their foot pads.
Make sure to keep the claws in good condition by clipping them regularly. Claws that are too long can get stuck and cause your dog to load the paws incorrectly.
Lubricate the dog's paws with paw salve
If your dog has dry paws, you can lubricate the foot pads with an oily ointment to prevent cracking problems. There are special paw salves in many pet stores. Remember to lubricate their paws when you plan to be indoors for a while, so that the ointment has time to penetrate the skin before you go out into the snow and slush.
Keep an eye on your dog or give them a treat just after you've applied the balm. Otherwise there is a risk they'll lick it all off.
Road salt can dry out your dogs paws
If you walk on salted roads, try to rinse their paws when you get back. Road salt can dry out the tread pads if it is allowed to remain. If salt gets into cracks in their paws, it can really sting - if your dog suddenly starts limping on your walk, road salt could be the culprit.
If you have a dog that gets big problems with cracks in its paws or suffers from colds when the temperature drops, dog shoes can be an alternative. There are simple plastic models that keep wet away and slightly more robust models that keep paws warm as well.
Just in time for winter exercise
It is great to exercise together with your dog in ice or snow, but make sure you adjust the walk according to the dog's condition and ability. For example, a dog with short legs will struggle in deep snow.
Related guides and advice
Keeping your pets cool and safe: Essential tips for hot weather care