The cold can be just as harsh on your canine friend as the heat. Dogs can suffer from some of the same ailments that effect humans during winter, especially when it comes to chapped, cracked skin or in their case the paws. The change in climate is likely to have an impact on most dogs’ paws but some breeds are more susceptible than others; small and delicate dogs as well as those that are fine boned or lean are particularly vulnerable.
Here we take a look at some ways to minimise the risk of damage and to ease any concerns you may have.
Perhaps the best defence against the cold for your dog’s paw is the application of a balm. There are many different types available on the market, and they don’t have to be specifically made for pets either – some creams made for humans work just as well. We do advise that before you apply any balm/cream to your dog’s paw you spend some time on basic grooming. Good grooming will ensure healthy paws and a happy dog. Make sure to trim any bits of long hair that is growing either between the paw pads or around the paws. The aim is here to reduce the likelihood of the hair on your dog’s paw touching the ground which can be dangerous as the cold can help to create ice balls between the paws, an extremely painful condition. Take the opportunity to trim your pet’s nails at the same time; long claws can lead the paw to splay out making it easier for ice balls to take root. Once these simple steps have been carried out, the paw is ready to have balm applied. If you take your dog out shortly thereafter, remember to wipe the paw clean of any snow and ice and reapply the protective layer on your return.
Be aware of the dangers
It is normal for roads and footpaths to be treated with salt or chemical de-icers when the weather turns frosty. Rather than staying cooped up inside, just remember to stay clear of these areas and as an extra precaution wash your dog’s paws thoroughly after each visit out. As a London dog walker, I must stress the toxicity of anti freeze to your dog. Pet friendly de-icers are available and it sets a good example for your neighbours if you are seen to use these. Together you can ensure that the neighbourhood is as safe as possible for pets.
When out on walks it may be easy to forget about the cold when you are wrapped up warm, but remember that dogs can feel the cold too and can contract hypothermia and frostbite so plan your trips out with this in mind.
As well as the balm, some canines may benefit from dog boots. The boots look like socks and fasten with Velcro. At first your dog may resist having to put something over the paws, but be patient and introduce the item in phases, gradually increasing the time they have them on.
Although the cold can have harmful consequences for your dog, by abiding by these simple steps you can go out safe in the knowledge that your pet’s paw health has been taken care of.