Keep your dog's feet in "paw-fect" health this winter
Unlike our own feet, a dog’s leathery pads are tough enough to withstand long walks on pavements, woodland trails and pebbly beaches. You might occasionally see fire rescue or sniffer dogs wearing bootees – but these are generally reserved for working in extreme circumstances.
With winter just around the corner, even the most hardy of pooches can experience foot problems, so it’s important to carry out regular checks. As the Blue Cross explains, your dog will normally let you know if they are finding it difficult to walk on cold surfaces by lifting their paws, whining or simply stopping. To remedy this, the charity suggests doggy boots with ‘a good sole and Velcro straps’ to provide comfort and protection during a chilly spell.
Just as we become more susceptible to chapped hands in the cold weather, our dogs can suffer from raw and painful paws too. In severe cases, the skin might crack and split, leading to infections if dirt gets into the wounds. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment if you suspect an infection, so book an appointment as soon as you can.
Before it gets to this stage, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their skin and regularly apply a pet-specific paw balm or layer of petroleum jelly. Whenever you return from a walk, wash your dog’s feet with warm water, making sure you get between the pads, to remove any grit, dirt and salt. All of these will irritate sensitive paws, especially if they are starting to show signs of being chapped.
In extremely cold weather, ice can form around the pads, so experts recommend keeping claws, and the fur around our pup’s feet, trimmed to limit contact with the ground.
Of course, most dogs love frolicking around in the winter (think of the Husky or St Bernard) – and are probably less concerned about the cold than we are! However, you do have to be mindful about how the coming months will affect your hound.
As well as looking after their feet, smaller breeds may feel chillier, so you might want to consider buying them a stylish jacket and a thicker blanket for their basket. It’ll help them stay warm and toasty when you get back from your walk.
Do you have any top tips for keeping your dog’s feet in tip-top condition over the winter? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also love to see your doggy dressed in their finest winter outfit so why not tag us on Instagram #hilifepets?