Whilst we don’t usually have to contend with months and months of heavy snow during the winter months here in the UK, many areas of the country will get some snow at some point in the winter, and the novelty of this often leaves us unprepared in many ways.
Just as driving in snow and getting around in general come with additional challenges and things to bear in mind in the winter, so too does walking your dog and caring for their paws in snowy weather require a little extra attention.
In this article we will share tips and advice on how to care for your dog’s paws when it is snowy, to keep them healthy, safe and well. Read on to learn more about dog paw care in snow.
Keeping your dog’s feet in good condition in cold weather
Your dog’s feet should have hard but supple pads, and be healthy and well suited to the types of surfaces that they walk on.
The winter cold and damp can cause problems for some dog’s paws, causing chapping, chafing or sores and cracks to form, so keep an eye on your dog’s feet in the winter and if needed, use paw balms or wax to help to protect them from hard ground and damp, snowy or icy conditions.
Could your dog benefit from booties?
Some dogs that feel the cold badly, that have delicate paws or that tend to suffer from chapping and soreness may well benefit from wearing specially designed canine boots for winter walks.
These are soft booties with a warm lining and waterproof outer, which can be bought in a huge range of styles and sizes to fit dogs of virtually every type.
It can take a while for a dog to get used to wearing boots and the odd sensation of walking in them, so practice putting the booties on and allow your dog to get comfortable in them a few times before your first trip out in the snow when they are really needed.
When out walking in snow
When you walk your dog in the snow, you (and they) won’t be able to see obstacles such as potholes or small steps, or potential hazards like broken glass or sharp objects.
Stick to walking your dog along routes that you know well and ideally, that have been cleared of the worst of the snow and ice, and take your walk slowly while keeping an eye out for potential hazards.
Checking and cleaning your dog’s paws after walks
After a walk in ice and snow, your dog’s paws and lower legs are likely to be wet and cold, and also, possibly quite dirty as they will probably have wandered through slush and mud as well.
There might also be various substances on your dog’s paws too, such as antifreeze agents or caustic road grit, which your dog has picked up on the pads of their paws during their walks.
When you get back from a walk in the snow with your dog, the first thing you should do is to thoroughly wash off their paws and feet using warm water, to rinse off any muck or mess, and to clean away the residue of anything toxic.
Thoroughly dry your dog’s feet and legs afterwards, including between the toes.
This post-walk clean-up also gives you the chance to check your dog’s paws and legs over for any signs of problems, to keep your dog’s paws in good condition.
Should you trim the fur on your dog’s paws in winter?
If your dog has very heavily feathered legs and dense clumps of fur between their toes, these areas will often turn into a magnet for muck, dirt and mud, and solid balls of ice and snow can also build up in the feathering of your dog’s legs and paw pads too.
If you find that cleaning your dog’s legs and paws after a walk is overly onerous or you cannot properly clean them due to the amount of fur present, you might want to consider trimming some of the denser fur off so that it is less apt to pick up muck and ice.
However, this thick fur helps to insulate your dog and protect their paws (and legs) against the cold and also hard surfaces, so only think about doing this if your dog regularly comes home with clumps of ice and snow on their legs, and never remove more than necessary.
If you have any concerns about caring for your dog’s paws in the snow or if you’re not sure if they might benefit from having some of the fur on their paws and legs trimmed, talk to your dog groomer and ask what they recommend.
If your dog develops sores, cracks or any other paw problems in snowy weather, pop them along to your vet for a check-up and treatment, and to get some advice on how to prevent those problems from happening again in the future.