Winter can be especially hard on a dog's paws. Unprotected from ice, snow, and slush, and bitter cold, their paws need special care in winter. By taking a little extra time to keep your dogs' paws well-groomed, you can minimize problems with cracked, sore pads, blisters and infections.
The products used to clear the ice and snow that accompany cold winter weather can be a real hazard for dogs. Rock salt and most chemical de-icers can irritate a dog's paws and turn a winter walk into a painful ordeal. Stay away from heavily salted areas as much as possible when walking your dog.
Inspect paws after walking in areas treated with salt and other de-icers. Check between toes and examine the foot pads for cracks in the skin. Look closely at any inflamed areas for splinters, embedded gravel, etc.
Snow, especially wet snow, clings to long haired dogs as they run and play in the snow. When snow or slush from melting ice and snow on sidewalks sticks to the hair beneath a dog's paws, lumps of ice, often mixed with rock salt and gravel, build up between their foot pads and toes. Walking hurts.
Always wash paws with warm water after outdoor play and winter walks. Even if there's no trace of cracks, irritation or any damage and no snow and ice to remove, it's important to wash away all traces of salt and other de-icers so a dog can't lick it off later. Never let a dog try to chew away any lumps if ice and snow sticking to its paws or hanging from its fur.