Paws in Winter - Five tips to keep them healthy

5 Tips for Protecting Dog Paws In Winter

Does your dog lift their paws in the winter?

Winter is in full force in Canada. Here in Ottawa we experience freezing rain, snow, more snow, freezing temperatures and more snow. What is best to keep your dogs paws safe in these Canadian winters? 

Harsh road and sidewalk conditions mean pet parents have to pay extra attention to their pup's paws. Most of the salts, salt rocks and deicers that are used to make roads, sidewalks, and stairs safer people and cars are actually toxic to dogs. The main ingredient is often either sodium chloride or calcium chloride, both of which can irritate a dog's paws or irritate their GI track when swallowed.  It is worse when we can't visibly see these chemicals on the snow and ice.

Tip #1: Use a natural organic ingredients in a paw balm

One way to protect their paws against toxic ice melts and salts is by using a high quality paw balm. The paw balm serves as a protector and as a moisturizer. There can be so many chemicals in dog products nowadays and having synthetic ingredients on their skin isn’t very good for them while you're trying to out manoeuvre the toxic ingredients in the snow. Opt for a product with natural, wholesome, and organic ingredients – your dog will thank you!

Tip #2: Moisturize their paws

You know the feeling you have with dry skin or chapped lips, it is uncomfortable. This is the same feeling your dog has with dry and cracked paws. Choose a paw balm with loads of moisturizing, healing, and soothing ingredients, like natural butters and oils, to give your dog’s paws the moisture they need. And, make it an easy application.  The sooner you leave his feet alone and let him get on with his day, the happier he’ll be. Choose a paw balm that is easy to put on and hassle free, to save you both time and energy!

Tip #3: Remove snow and trim their fur

Gently remove snowballs and ice balls when coming indoors. Snow gets packed into snowballs and balls of ice wedged between your dog's paw pads and toes. These are uncomfortable, which leads them to try to remove them on their own by licking them. This can cause dogs to consume harmful toxic chemicals like those in de-icing products and salt. Yuck. 

Don't try to pull snowballs out because you may accidentally pull out your pup's fur. Instead of tugging on them, soak a washcloth in warm water and massage the icy pad to gently melt and loosen the ice. Also, you can trim the fur 
that grows between their pads to prevent ice buildup between the pads.

Tip #4: Rinse and wipe off their paws

After walking outside in the winter wipe or rinse off their paws to remove salt, toxins, and deicers.  You can also use moist cleansing wipes that are specially made for dogs! They should be made with natural and organic ingredients that are non-toxic for you and your dog. This is important because they will probably still end up licking their paws later, and a bit of anything that you apply to their paws will end up absorbed into their bodies.

Tip #5: Wear booties

If you find your dog is just having too much of a hard time outside on the sidewalks and in the snow you should consider having them wear dog booties. Not all dogs take to these, but they maybe your only option. Look for durability, flexibility, comfort, traction control and visibility. Visibility because it is guaranteed your dog will lose a boot doing zoomies around you and you will have to find it. 

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

As a final note, you should use only non-toxic (dog safe) deicers, snow melters and salt products to keep your dog happy. 



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