Most Sighthound people – the Borzoi parents are giving us blank looks – know the importance of keeping pups warm in cold winter weather. And their hounds have the extensive coat wardrobes to prove it.
But sometimes, paws get overlooked. Tonya Christiansen, owner of Must Love Dogs Boutique & Spa and a SHUG volunteer, offers some tips for the winter weather.
Take a look at the bottom of your dog’s feet. If your dog has hair on the bottom of their paws and between their toes, it is a good idea to use a (beard and mustache) trimmer to trim the hair from the paws. If left long, the ice and snow can build up on the bottom of feet, and cause cold and discomfort. Imagine having ice cubes stuck between your toes! Ouch!
Always keep tabs on the condition of your dog’s pads. Are they soft and supple or are they dry, scaly and, even worse, cracked? It’s important to moisturize your dog’s pads on a regular basis. How frequent that is depends on your dog - just enough to keep them soft. You can find paw balms at most dog boutiques or specialty shops. Or you can always use Bag Balm (designed to keep cow udders from being chapped) but note that it’s somewhat greasy. I recommend massaging it into the pads and wiping away the excess.
Now, let’s talk BOOTS! Even though your dog may not agree, boots can be one of their best friends during the winter months. Boots keep salt, snow and ice away and out from between the pads of their paws. There are MANY options available out there and so it’s difficult to choose which ones will work the best. My first recommendation is Pawz Dog Boots. They look like balloons but they are thicker and they come 12 to a pack. They are called disposable, but you can get many uses from each one.
The advantage with these boots is the dog can still feel the ground through them. (One reason dogs dislike boots so much is they can’t feel the ground under their feet.) These boots also stay on rather well (if you get the proper size). You’ll get longer use from these boots if your dog’s nails are trimmed and filed
If boots just will NOT work for you, there are paw waxes such as Musher’s Secret that you apply to your dog’s paws before going out. It provides a protective barrier from the cold, ice, snow and salt. When you come in, you use a towel to wipe it off their feet.
Finally, we need to talk about paw safe ice melts. Regular salt/ice melts can stick to your dog’s feet and cause discomfort or pain just by walking in it. It can also stick to your dog’s paws and when they come in from outside, they can lick their paws, ingesting the salt. Some salt can heat up to 175 degrees inside of your dog. Always be careful.
PS -- If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that stays warm in the winter and you rarely see snow – well, we don’t want to hear about it!