Dog paws normally stand up to a lot of wear and tear. However, there are some situations when a dog’s paws can use added protection. When the weather is extreme, it’s a good idea to protect your dog’s paws by limiting their contact with hot or cold ground. Also, keep an eye out for hazards on the ground, and inspect for and treat paw injuries promptly. Overall, it’s important to minimize the risks to your dog’s paws, to check them on a regular basis, and to give them proper care if they do get injured.
EditProtecting Your Dog’s Paws in the Winter
- Minimize your dog’s time outside. When the weather is cold and there is snow or ice on the ground, contact with the frozen ground can injure your dog’s paws. Limit your dog’s time outside if the temperature is below freezing, so that its paws don’t get damaged and the dog doesn’t get too cold.
- If your dog’s paws are in contact with the freezing ground too long they could get frostbite, or the pads of their paws could become brittle and crack. Don’t stand in the same spot for too long — it’s better to stay constantly moving, even if you’re just walking around in circles.
- A good rule to follow is not to keep your dog outside longer than you would stay outside. If you have taken the dog outside and you are ready to come in from the cold, so should your dog.
- Don’t leave your dog in a kennel that’s resting on frozen ground or its paws could freeze.
- Take your dog’s breed and condition into consideration. Some dogs are better adept at dealing with the cold. If you have a small dog that has little body fat or thin fur, such as a chihuahua, then it should not spend much time outside in freezing conditions at all. If you have a husky with a thick coat, then it can spend a lot of time outside without any problems to its paws.
- A young, healthy dog is also more likely to thrive in cold weather than a very old dog. Take your dog’s physical condition into consideration when taking it out in cold weather.
- The paws of dogs bred to live in cold temperatures are different from other dog paws. The blood in their paws is rewarmed faster and the pads themselves are made of more cold-resistant tissue.
- Wipe down the dog’s paws after contact with ice and snow. Once you have brought your dog in from the cold, be sure to remove any ice, snow, or water that has accumulated on its paws. This will help keep the paws healthy and will minimize the chance of frostbite or raw skin.
- Be sure to check between the toes for ice and snow. Sometimes ice balls can form between a dog’s toes. If you notice your dog limping during the walk, make sure there aren’t ice balls stuck to its paws.
- Wiping down the paws can also remove some of the salt and chemicals that can accumulate on the surface of pads.
- Wash your dog’s paws after contact with salt and chemicals. One of the major hazards for your dog’s paws in winter is the salt or chemicals that are used to deice roads and sidewalks. Every time your dog spends a lot of time outside in areas that have been deiced, be sure to wash their paws afterward. Simply rinse the pads with warm water and then dry them off with a towel.
- Salt and chemicals are dangerous for your dog. They can injure the surface of the pads. They can also be ingested if the dog cleans its pads with its tongue.
- Moisturize your dog’s paws. If your dog spends any amount of time outside during the winter, it will likely need a bit of additional moisture added to its pads. Moisturizer for dog paws, commonly known as paw balm, can keep the pads supple and free of cracks or brittleness. Apply it both before and after your dog spends time in the cold.
- Use a moisturizer that is designed for the pads of dog’ paws. This type of moisturizer can be found at pet supply stores and from online retailers.
- You can also make your own paw balm out of common household ingredients, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter.
- Put booties on your dog’s paws. If you plan to have your dog out in the ice and snow for a long time, you can get booties that will protect their paws. Dog booties are available at pet supply stores and online retailers. These booties can be hard for a dog to get used to though, so gradually acclimate your dog to them over several weeks before you need it to wear them for an extended period.
- When buying booties for your dog, be sure to get the right size. You will need to measure your dog’s paws and get a size that is designed for your dog’s paw size.
- Make sure you get booties that have rubber soles and that are waterproof. These things will help protect the dog’s paws and will give it stability on the ice or snow.
EditProtecting Your Dog’s Paws in the Summer
- Walk your dog at cooler times of day. If you want to take your dog for a long walk in the summer, do it when the ground will be at its coolest. Early in the morning or long after sunset are usually good times to take dogs for walks.
- In addition to protecting your dog’s paws, walking it during cooler temperatures will protect it from getting heat exhaustion and dehydration.
- Check surface temperatures before taking your dog outside. When summer temperatures are high, it’s important to protect your dog’s paws from hot surfaces. One good way to do this is to go outside and touch the concrete before leading your dog onto it. It you can comfortably touch the concrete, then your dog’s paws will be fine on it.
- Sand can also become so hot that it burns your dog’s paws. Be cautious and test the temperature of sand before you lead your dog onto it.
- Keep your dog on cooler surfaces. If you do take your dog outside during hot weather, make sure it is walking on grass or other cooler surfaces. Keeping your dog on vegetation will help it avoid burned pads.
- Consider taking your dog for a walk on a bark or dirt path instead of a concrete path.
- Put paw protection on your dog. If your dog will put up with having something on its paws, you can use booties in the summer. Put them on your dog before taking it out in areas where it will walk on hot concrete or other hot surfaces.
- Booties are also a good choice if you’re taking your dog for a long hike. They’ll protect its paws from cuts and scrapes.
- Treat burns on the pads. If your dog’s pads do get burned by a hot surface, it’s important to treat them so they can heal properly and quickly. If they have a slight burn, soak the pad in cool water, dry it off, apply a veterinary antibiotic, and then bandage them up. If the pads are severely burned, they should be treated by a veterinarian.
- Signs that your dog’s pads have minor burns include the dog slightly limping, being hesitant to walk, and licking the pads after a walk in the heat. However, with a minor burn the pads themselves will look normal.
- Severe burns can be identified by looking at the pads. They will have areas that are discolored or blistered.
EditWatching for Paw Hazards in All Conditions
- Keep your dog away from sharp objects on the ground. A dog’s paws can be easily injured by walking on sharp or rough objects. Either keep your dog totally out of areas with sharp objects on the ground, or clean up the ground thoroughly before bringing your dog into one of these areas.
- For example, keep your dog out of work areas where metal shavings or glass fragments could be on the ground.
- As a rule of thumb, don’t have your dog walk anywhere where you wouldn’t walk barefoot.
- Don’t allow your dog near chemicals or toxins on the ground. If your dog walks through a toxic substance, it could injure the dog’s paw. The dog could also ingest the substance when it licks its paw. For example, floor cleaners can contain chemicals that are hazardous for your dog.
- When cleaning your floor with a strong chemical, keep your dog out of the area.
- Also look at the labels on your floor cleaners to make sure they are non-toxic to dogs.
- Check your dog’s paws regularly for damage. In order to protect your dog’s paws from serious injury, it’s important to keep an eye on their condition. Inspecting them on a regular basis for cuts, cracks, or punctures can help you catch problems before they become serious.
- Inspect your dog’s paws on at least a weekly basis, if not daily. Look at them more often if your dog is spending a lot of time outdoors or in areas where its paws could be injured.
- If you take your dog running or hiking, make sure you’re checking its paws throughout your trip. If they look worn down, let your dog rest.
- Be sure to look between your dog’s toes. When inspecting your dog’s paws for damage, you also need to look for problems between the toes, most often due to thorns or burrs getting embedded there. Removing these items quickly is important because they can easily cause infection and pain.
- If you spot a burr or thorn, use tweezers to remove it. Be gentle so that your dog is not resistant to your efforts, but also make sure you get a secure hold on the whole thing. A small piece that’s broken off and left behind can be even harder to remove.
- If you cannot remove a burr or thorn completely, seek veterinary help. Leaving them embedded can create a severe infection and can impact your dog’s ability to walk, so proper veterinary care is vital.