Winter weather can be harsh on exposed skin. Cold temperatures can cause cracking, chapping and all manner of other uncomfortable problems, as any dog owner who ever forget their gloves for winter walks will know all too well!
The same is true when it comes to dog paws. Winter can be just as harsh on your best friend’s feet as it can on your own skin, which is why paying some mind to dog paw care is so important.
Read our insights on dog paws, winter weather and care during the colder months of the year, with advice on how to ensure that your canine companion enjoys their winter walks in comfort and without harm.
How, When and Where You Walk Your Dog
Your dog’s paws are designed to be tough, flexible and resilient enough to walk on most surfaces without damage or harm. Although, very cold, hard or wet ground can hurt and damage your dog’s paws during the winter.
Additionally, some breeds of dog have less padding and thinner skin on their paws than others. Lean, lightweight breeds like the Greyhound have this problem, which makes them less resilient to coping with the harshness of the British weather.
Dog paws in snow will soon become very cold if your dog is wading through drifts or walking on ice as well. Ice and compacted snow can soon become trapped in the fur and creases of your dog’s paws, cooling their bodies down and increasing the risk of the skin cracking and chapping.
Try to stick to walking your dog in areas where the snow and ice are not too bad. Remember that cold, hard ground also means that you should take care to ensure that your dog doesn’t accidentally jar or strain a foot or leg when exercising. Warm them up properly before they start running around in earnest, and avoid high-impact exercise on hard surfaces.
Winter hazards Can Harm your Dog’s Paws
Following the glistening path cut by the road gritting truck or local council de-icing teams on the pavements might seem like the best way to avoid wading through snow and ice.
However, it is important to bear in mind the fact that gritting and de-icing agents contain chemicals and solvents, which can be harsh and damaging to your dog’s paws.
Avoid walking your dog across ground that has been gritted or treated with de-icing chemicals. If this is unavoidable, minimise your time on such surfaces and wash and dry your dog’s paws off thoroughly as soon as you get back home.
Daily Dog Paw Care in Winter
It is a good idea to inspect your dog’s paws every time they come back from a walk regardless of the time of year, but this is even more important when it comes to winter dog paw care. If your dog’s feet are mucky or if they have walked across grit and slush, wash your dog’s feet off with warm water as soon as you get back home. Always dry your dog’s feet thoroughly after every walk too.
Check your dog’s paws over for signs of any damage, injuries, or foreign bodies lodged in the pads or between the toes on a daily basis. Look out for signs of thickened, rough skin, cracks, grazes, or sore spots, which will all worsen over time if left unchecked.
Paw Care Accessories
Some dogs need a little extra support during the winter to keep their toes warm when out on walks, and to prevent potential damage. This includes many lean, leggy breeds such as the Greyhound as mentioned earlier, and often, petite, delicate little dogs like the Chihuahua too.
Investing in a set of smart, waterproof booties for your dog’s winter walks can help to protect their paws from damage and keep them warm and comfortable. There are also a range of other products on the market that can help you to keep your dog’s paws in tiptop shape in cold weather too, such as paw wax and balms that help to provide grip and soothe dry, chafed skin.
Hard, compacted ice will sometimes become trapped between your dog’s toes, or cling on to feathering on their feet and legs. This can lower your dog’s body temperature and contribute to problems such as cracking and chafing.
Paws that become very rough or dry often precede painful sores and cracks during the winter months. If you spot a problem, don’t wait for it to go away on its own. It is likely to worsen before it gets better, exacerbated by the daily demands of walking in the cold.
Ask your vet for more advice on caring for dog paws in snow, ice and other inhospitable conditions, and book an appointment promptly if you think something is amiss, or have spotted a problem in the making.
Just a little extra vigilance and a couple of minutes a day spent looking after your dog’s paws in winter can help to ensure that your handsome hound enjoys all that the season has to offer without any problems.