If you’re following the forecast, you’ve likely seen that they’re predicting extremely cold weather this weekend. 🥶
And while we as humans know how to bundle up and keep ourselves warm, some people aren’t sure what they can do for their dogs.
Beyond winter coats, an even bigger concern is your dog’s paws. Read below for our best tips on how to keep them safe and comfortable in cold weather.
Pro tip: If you’ve been practicing body handling with your dog, trimming and wiping their paws will be easy! But, if you’re not there, yet, reach out to us to schedule an appointment to winterize your dog's paws!
1. Groom and moisturize!
If your dog has fur on the bottom of his pads, it must be trimmed. Balls of snow and ice can quickly form, making it painful for them to walk.
And don’t forget your dog’s NAILS. Trim them regularly (or let us do it), because long nails can break when a dog runs through snow (or on ice). My dogs have their nails trimmed at *least* every two weeks, sometimes weekly, and not just during the winter. A dog with long nails (ones you can hear, clicking on the floor) doesn’t have the traction that he needs to walk properly. Imagine walking and stiletto heels all day, every day.
2. Keep them clean!
Speaking of chemicals, people use a lot of them on streets, sidewalks, and driveways during the winter.
Avoiding these surfaces is nearly impossible, so if your walking route is on a potentially treated surface, be sure to wipe your dog’s paws off once you’re home.
At the school, we use a pet-friendly, non-toxic ice melt product, and we hope you do, too.
3. Protect with boots and balms.
Wet paws can easily lead to sore, dry, and cracked paw pads!
Dog boots minimize your dog’s contact or exposure to snow, ice, and potential ground chemicals. Use boots that properly fit your dog, and give him or her time to get accustomed to them!
If you if need help teaching your dog how to wear boots, reach out to us. We have lots of success training ‘boot resistant’ dogs. 😇
BALMS: Dog sled teams use paw balms to keep their dog’s paws healthy by creating a protective barrier so ice, salt, and snow can’t get caught between your dog’s toes.
As a bonus, paw balm keeps the pads moisturized, helping to prevent painful dryness and cracking from occurring.
4. Keep walks short and sweet.
When it’s extremely cold out and you’re uncomfortable, your dog probably is, too. In bitterly cold weather, take shorter and more frequent dog walks.
Pro Tip: Shorter walks, mean, less exercise for your dog, but you can add in brain puzzles, Canine Gym, and indoor training sessions to keep your dog’s brain and body challenged!
Here’s a question we’re frequently asked this time of year:
“How cold is too cold for dogs?”
A dog’s ability to withstand the cold depends on many factors, such as breed, size, body fat, fur, health and medical condition, and whether they are an indoor or outdoor dog.
As a general rule of thumb:
- At 45°F (7°C) and below, most dogs will dogs will start to become uncomfortable
- At 32°F (0°C) and below, small, thin-coated, young, old and sick dogs should be outside for extremely brief periods of time
- At 20°F (-7°C) and below, dogs become vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite
To some degree, all dogs are vulnerable to the cold. Paws, nose, ears, and the stomach region are generally unprotected, and therefore quite sensitive in all dogs.
In the case of cold weather and your dog’s paws, prevention is the key to success.
And whether you need help learning to handle your dog’s paws, or you need someone to groom their paws for winter weather, we’re here to help!