With the winter months bringing harsh snowy weather, wrapping up to go on a dog walk is essential. Lots of layers; boots, gloves and hats for us so we can play with our dogs in the snow. What a joy and a great opportunity to capture some idyllic photographs but most importantly we need to make sure we protect our dogs from these harsh elements as well. Whether you walk your dog in town or the countryside their paws need protection.
Trim Paws And Pads
Cold weather can cause major problems for our pets, the most vulnerable area being their paws and pads. Snow and ice are harsh and dry out a dog’s pads leaving them cracked and sore, so protecting them is essential. A large percentage of dogs grow hair in their pads and this hair easily picks up dirt and debris from walks. In the cold weather this debris can be in the form of snowballs mixed with grit, which set rock hard in your dog’s pads making them extremely uncomfortable, not to mention ultimately causing soreness, drying and cracking. Keeping the hair in your dog’s pads regularly trimmed by your qualified groomer will mean a much more comfortable walk and much easier to spot any potential discomfort.
Your dog’s foot and pads before a comfort trim
Your dog’s foot and pads after a comfort trim
What Are Snowball Feet?
When a dog leaves a warm environment and goes outside in very cold temperatures the sweat glands in their toes can form into balls of ice that attach to the long hair. As snow and ice builds up not only can it be rough if mixed with grit, but it can also stretch the toes apart causing cracking, bleeding and hair-pulling. Dogs will try to remove them by licking which adds more moisture.
Image courtesy: //tellmeaboutit.co
How Can I Prevent Snowball Feet?
Dogs love the snow and will roll and play with enthusiasm! Brushing off snow regularly to prevent it building up is one way to stop large lumps forming. Also paw balm is really effective at sealing the pad so the snow can’t stick to it so readily. Along with trimmed pads this can really help.
Paw balm, is made of soothing and easily absorbed ingredients to protect, soften and help heal your dog’s pads. It transforms rough, cracked, sore pads and can protect healthy pads from the harsh elements of winter surfaces. They are designed to be really easy to apply and absorb quickly, so are great for putting on just before a walk to protect and allow your dog to get on with exploring.
Used as a protective layer you can see the benefits
Image courtesy: animalhumanesociety.com
Dog paw unprotected vs Dog paw protected with balm
How To Treat Snowball Feet
If your dog does get snowballs on their feet, then washing your dog’s pads in tepid water when you return from a walk will melt any hard snow that has built up between your dog’s pads and toes. For an extra treat, dry with a warm towel just out of the tumble dryer to warm up those feet nicely helping to prevent cracking. Apply a paw balm afterwards – it can aid in healing any problems your dog’s paws may have.
Why Are Protecting Paws So Important?
Grit /salt is 90% Sodium Chloride
Salt poisoning in dogs is very real and can be caused by the ingestion of many things around the house from Playdough to table salt. Unfortunately, rock salt or grit that is used on roads and pavements in the winter months to prevent snow and ice freezing is potentially lethal to our dogs. If they experience discomfort with their paws and lick or chew them ingestion of salt within the snow and ice may happen.
Three Things To Remember
1: Protecting and sealing their pads with a balm is a great defense.
2: Rinsing your dog’s paws with warm water after a walk is really important.
3: Monitor your dog for signs of licking and chewing. Salt ingestion will cause excessive thirst and dogs will naturally drink water if thirsty. Without sufficient water to dilute the ingestion poisoning can occur.
For more great tips on grooming take a look at:
Julie Harris Dog Grooming Education was founded to share Julie’s knowledge with groomers and owners alike with the goal of creating harmonious relationships that benefit dogs and the care of their skin and coat.