Rutland Pet Owners: Tips for Caring for Pets’ Paws in Winter Weather
For dogs, spending time in the cold, wet outdoors is just a part of life in the winter months in Rutland, VT. The constant exposure can lead to dry, cracked paw pads which could be painful.
In addition, ice melting treatments like salt can also be irritating to unprotected paws. Luckily, there are ways to treat and prevent damage the winter elements might do to your furry friend’s feet.
In this article, we’ll go over some helpful tips to help you care for your dog’s paws this winter!
Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean in the Winter
If you find your backyard has begun resembling a mud pit, it’s important to wash your dog’s paws each time he comes inside. This is also true if you encounter any ice melting treatment on the sidewalks or roads during your walk.
Take a warm, wet washcloth and simply wipe each of his paws, making sure you get in between every pad. If your dog is one that doesn’t typically enjoy having their feet touched, be sure to give him plenty of praise.
Doing this will remove any mud, dirt, salt or sand that he picked up on his paws and this will help prevent any damage to the skin. There are a ton of products available that help make cleaning your dog’s paws a breeze!
Moisturize Your Dog’s Paws in Rutland, VT
There’s an array of doggy foot balms available on the market that’s safe to use – even if your pup likes to lick her paws. Not only do these balms treat dry skin, but they can also form a barrier to protect from further damage.
However, there are some treatments you can do at home that are equally effective.
- Shea Butter – Shea butter is a fat that comes from the African shea tree, so it’s a natural treatment for dry skin and is safe for your dog to ingest in small amounts. It is a common ingredient in lotions, but it’s best to avoid any scents or dyes found in regular body lotion as they may further irritate your dog’s feet.
- Beeswax – Beeswax is one of the most natural treatments for dry skin, chapped lips and blisters. It’s antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory agents that can help soothe sore or cracked paws. It also locks in moisture to keep your dog’s paws safe, and, like shea butter, it is perfectly safe for her to eat.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E is actually found in and protects cell membranes that surround the cells to keep them hydrated and healthy. It is also an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties to not just protect but treat damage done to skin – or paws. There are vitamin E creams that serve as an excellent way to deliver relief. In addition, adding a small amount of vitamin E oil to your dog’s bathwater may also do him some good. Unfortunately, ingesting too much of this can be harmful to your dog so be sure to discourage him from licking his feet or drinking the bathwater. Most dog foods already have plenty of vitamin E in them, but if you feel your dog may benefit from adding some more to his diet it is important that you speak to your veterinarian about what the appropriate amount would be.
Protecting Your Dog’s Paws in the Winter
The most effective way of protecting your dog’s paws from harm is by having her wear a set of doggy booties or socks. Unfortunately, wearing shoes doesn’t feel natural to most animals so it may take time and patience to get her acclimated to doing so.
When introducing any new footwear to your dog, slow is key.
- First, simply place the boots before her and allow her to investigate them on her own terms. Make sure any time she is around them that your attitude is calm and positive.
- When she’s grown used to their presence (usually shown by her ignoring their existence entirely), the next step is to touch the boots to her body and give her plenty of praise and treats. This will show your dog that they’re no threat, and in fact may even be a good thing! After doing this a few times a day for two or three days, it is time to have her try them on.
- Have her come sit before you and give you one of her front paws. Once the boot is on and secured, allow her time to try getting it off. Eventually, she will come to the realization that the boot is there to stay.
- Now you can add another boot to her other front paw. Again, give her time to attempt ridding herself of the new boot and after she’s settled, do this step two more times until she’s got all four of her precious paws protected and it’s time for a walk.
- Start your walk out at a slow pace. The new additions to your dog’s feet may affect her agility and speed and it will take more time to find a gate at which she feels comfortable walking.
- As she acclimates, you are welcome to move at a more typical speed.
Another advantage to doggy booties is that they can keep whatever treatment you may have done to your dog’s paws from being rubbed away.
If your dog is comfortable wearing his shoes in the house and while he sleeps, it may be a great idea to put the balm, oil or wax on just before bedtime so that it has all night to sink in without being licked off.
When in Doubt, Ask Your Vet About Your Dog’s Paws
If you find your dog’s paws are so dry and cracked that they’re bleeding, you should check with your veterinarian about other possible solutions.
If this is the case, you should refrain from taking your dog on a walk until her paws are healed and limit activity to the bare minimum. Discourage your dog from licking her feet, as this can add more irritation to the wounds.
At Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center, we know how bad winters get in Rutland, VT. Don’t hesitate to call us about any problems your dog might be having with their paws.
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About Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center
Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center provides top-quality veterinary care to the Rutland, VT pet community.