Easy Ways to Protect Your Poor Pup’s Paws in Winter
by Jessi Larson
The other day it was literally -25 degrees here in Minneapolis. No joke. If you threw a bucket of water off the deck, it would freeze before it hit the ground.
Despite the cold, our dear old dogs still need to go outside to do their business and get some exercise, which can be super tough on their poor paws.
After that crazy cold weekend, I snuggled up to Toby and saw that his paws were dry and cracked. My heart broke for him and of course I had a major case of dog mom guilt. What could I do ensure this didn’t happen again?
I took to the interwebs and discovered some helpful tips to protect a dog’s paws, which, if you live in a cold climate like us, will be a huge help this winter.
Wash and Dry Paws After Going on a Walk
According to Web MD, coming out of the cold into the dry heat can cause itchy, flaking skin. To prevent this, have a towel nearby to pat down your pup’s paws after he or she plays outside.
Also, roads and sidewalks are caked with salt and chemicals that end up directly on your dog’s paws. As obvious as this seems now, it’s something most people (myself included!) don’t think about when you’re heading back in the house. To remove these yucky substances, I’m going to make it a habit to wipe down and dry Toby’s paws after every walk.
Say what you will about dog booties, but those things do a great job of keeping pet paws warm and protected from chemicals and the elements. Sure, boots may look a little bit silly, although you could argue that everyone looks dorky in the winter when they’re all bundled up in oversized gear. After all, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay warm!
The biggest challenge for dog parents, however, is keeping the boots on. Some dogs hate having something stuck to their paws and will try to kick them off. Or for others, the boots just don’t stay on right.
Before you buy a pair, do your homework first. See what people are saying and double check the size chart. This effort will help find a pair that works for your pup.
If boots are too clunky, you can also use baby socks as a barrier. Yes, real baby socks. Sometimes they stay on better than booties and will still provide a layer of protection.
Get Ready for that Jelly
Did you know that petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, can protect your pup’s paws from salt and chemicals? It sure does, according to Cesar Millan and many other pet experts. So massage a bit into their paws before going outside. (Just make sure your furbaby doesn’t lick it all off!)
Petroleum jelly is also great for adding an intense shot of moisture if your furball’s feet are already chapped and dry.
I keep hearing about Musher’s Secret, an all-natural, wax-based cream that creates a semi-permeable shield when applied to a dog’s paw. This is going to be the year we try it!
How it works is that you apply it to the pads and area between the toes, and the formula creates a shield to “prevent abrasions, burning, drying and cracking.” It’s also loaded with Vitamin E to moisturize and heal wounds.
On Amazon, Musher’s Secret has a 4.5/5 rating, so they must be doing something right.
Lots of Water
Staying warm in winter months takes energy. Literally. Your dog’s body expels more energy to warm up, which in turn can cause dehydration. To prevent this, make sure your pup drinks plenty of water to keep their skin more hydrated and healthy.
Last but not least, simply pay attention to your dog’s tootsies. Maybe make it a routine that every night before bed, you look over their paws to ensure there are no cuts or injuries and that they aren’t cracked or dry. And while you doing it, you could always throw in a paw rub for good measure. Your dog will surely appreciate it.