Dogs of all sizes enjoy a romp in the snow, or at least enjoy sniffing and exploring it.
Spending too long out in the winter elements can take a toll on a dog’s paws, though, so it’s important to know what to look out for when walking or playing in colder conditions. This quick guide breaks down those elements and how they can negatively impact your four-legged friends.
Cold Elements and What They Can Mean for Dogs
It may come down all year long, but rain can cause problems for your pooch — even without the cold. Wet paws that do not dry properly can create bacterial buildups between the toes, and that leads to the corn chip scent with which many dog parents are familiar. Too much bacteria leads to other problems, like itchiness, sores, and infections, so be sure to keep your pup’s paws from staying soaked for too long.
This in-between condition involves some ice and some rain, making it a potential hazard. Dogs that walk in slush sometimes see those icy particles build up in the fur around their paw pads, and that can lead to discomfort. The fur is there to wick that moisture away, but the icy buildup can be painful. If you see your dog stopping to pick up his or her paws when out on a slush-filled walk, a buildup of icy particles might be the culprit.
Fluffy white snow is usually harmless, but snow with extra cold temperatures can burn or dry out a dog’s paw pads. Limit exposure during super cold times, and be sure to check paw pads for signs of cracking.
In addition to creating potentially hazardous conditions for pups who enjoy a brisk walk in the snow, ice can also create issues for those with sensitive or injured pads. It becomes a bigger problem when temperatures drop during a stroll, as any wetness in the fur between the pads begins to freeze. Ice can also have sharp edges that may cut your pets feet.
Some pets may be more susceptible to frostbite than others. Conditions like Heart Disease, Diabetes, age, size & overall health can predispose a pet to this painful & debilitating condition.
Symptoms of Frostbite in Dogs. Symptoms of frostbite are seen in the affected areas and can take up to several days to appear. They include: Pale discoloration, often in shades of gray or blue. Pain when touched. Cold or brittle feeling when touched. Swelling. Skin ulcers or blisters.
How to Protect Your Pup’s Paws Against the Cold
The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take and products you can use to protect your dogs in the winter. Always thoroughly dry your pet off with a towel. Be gently, and not too vigorous as reduced blood flow to extremities can precipitate tissue damage. Inspect your pets ears, paws, and hairless areas for signs of color changes or injuries. If you do find scrapes or wounds, being proactive with treatment can lessen the severity of the injury. After cleaning a wound with tepid water, you may need to apply medication or a bandage. Healers makes non-emergent wound care items to help pet parents treat pets at home until they can be evaluated by a veterinarian. Here are a few of our favorites:
Healers Cut and Wound Spray For Pets - if your dog ends up injuring a paw pad on snow or ice, spray the impacted area with a wound spray to help disinfect it and promote healing. We recommend Healers Cut and Wound Spray because it is non-toxic and safe for dogs to lick — and we all know how dogs like to lick their injuries.
Gauze pads — When your dog’s pad is injured, it may seem difficult to keep the wound clean, dry, and medicated. Gauze pads are a great help because they can be sprayed with medicine and adhered to the foot with a bootie to promote maximum healing.
Healers Medical Booties — Dogs need to walk around, even when their pads are injured. A medical bootie helps keep those injured paws clean and prevent infections, and gauze inserts do wonders to keep medication in place.
Healers Urban Walkers III— These can be used as a preventative measure, worn in the snow and ice before an injury occurs as everyday paw protection against cold damage. They can also be worn outside during the healing process after an injury, protecting said injury from further damage.
Cold-related paw injuries can be avoided, and they can also be treated quickly if you have the right gear on hand. Safety is important, especially as the weather turns colder and the days get shorter. Be sure you’re protecting your pup from possible cold-related dangers!