The colder-than-normal temperatures have everyone trapped indoors, but that’s only a protective measure if you don’t have to go outside. Dogs need daily walks, and that means dog parents are bundling up to brave the ice, snow, and wind to take them.
Thick socks, boots, a warm winter coat, a hat and scarf, and gloves will keep people warm, dry, and protected from the snow and ice, but what about their pups? Sure, dogs’ fur coats provide a bit of a buffer, but most don’t have hats, coats, and boots to protect the rest of them. That last one is be a bigger problem than most dog owners realize, though, especially when temperatures drop below freezing.
Why the Super Cold Is So Dangerous for Pups
It’s no surprise that ultra-cold weather is a hazard. Wind can burn skin, overexposure can cause frostbite, snow piles up and hardens, and ice becomes more prevalent. Homeowners, businesses, and snow removal teams use a combination of plowing or shoveling and salt or chemicals to keep snow and ice from accumulating. Those chemicals can harm dogs’ paws.
Paw pads are absorptive, just like the skin on the bottoms of people’s feet. That means the chemicals sprinkled all over the sidewalk are getting absorbed into or caking on pups’ paws, a very important potential issue against which many dog parents don’t protect. Dogs that are negatively impacted by salt and chemicals might get raw patches on their paws or experience drying, cracking, or bleeding.
Ice can have a similar impact. Sub-zero temperatures apply to the air, but frozen air means even frostier ground and ice conditions. This can burn dogs’ paw pads or, even worse, actually cause their warm paws to stick to the ground. Breaking the seal between the two can lead to raw, torn pads that will be both difficult to heal and incredibly painful.
Other Paw Problems
Dogs have other potential freeze-related worries, too, like the possibility of losing a nail. It can take two months for such an injury to heal, and its nature means the impacted area can be easily aggravated. This prevents proper healing and creates a risk for infection.
How to Treat and Prevent Ice-Related Paw Woes
We can’t do anything about the temperatures, but we can prevent the problems they create. Contact with ice can be minimized by purchasing dog booties. Healers Urban Walkers are made from breathable material, wrap around dogs’ legs to provide a secure hold, and come with a non-skid sole to improve movement.
If your pup has been exposed to the elements and you’re concerned about the injuries he or she has sustained, it’s important to keep the impacted areas clean and dry. Clean and disinfect the wounds with a wound spray (we like Vetericyn), then wrap the paws to keep injuries from reopening or attracting dirt, debris, or other harmful substances. We also recommend our Medical Booties. The soft, soothing material acts like a slipper, wrapping around dogs’ paws and held securely in place by Velcro. We offer gauze inserts that can hold medication against wounded areas or help keep injuries clean.
Dogs that experience nail loss are at risk of infection. The location of the injury can make it difficult to heal, as many movements cause dogs to flex their paws and break the scab where the nail is missing. You’ll need to clean the wound twice per day by soaking it for 10 minutes in a benodyne solution, then wrap the paw to keep it protected.
Knowledge is powerful when the weather gets extra cold. Knowing what to watch out for and how to prevent or treat cold-related injuries will go a long way toward ensuring you and your pup stay safe this winter.