Most dogs love playing in the snow, but winter conditions can damage canine paws. Even cold weather breeds such as Saint Bernards, huskies and chows can be prone to frostbite or pain from snow collecting on their paws. Chemicals used on roads and sidewalks pose additional hazards. Your dog may limp or hold his paw up if he's uncomfortable in the snow. Take steps to protect his paws from winter weather.
How to Prevent Snow Damage to Dog Paws
Trim the Paws
Snow collects and sticks to the hair between the pads on your dog's paws. Trim the hair weekly to avoid snowballs and keep your dog from sliding on ice. If you use a paw protectant, it will be easier to apply to the paw pads if the hair is short. Wet paws will dry faster when you clean them after an outing. Rinse your dog's paws when he comes inside, or keep a tub of wipes near the door to remove any chemicals that stick to his paws.
Apply a commercial paw protectant to your dog's paws before outings in the snow. Most consist of ingredients such as wax, lanolin, aloe or vitamin E and serve to repel road salt and chemicals. They act as a barrier on the paw pads, add grip on ice and moisturize. Most dry quickly and are no-greasy. Look for products made from natural ingredients in case your dog licks his paws, and clean his paws before applying.
Booties keep your dog's paws clean, dry and provide traction on snow and ice. Accustom your dog to wearing them inside for short stints before you venture outdoors. Most booties use adjustable Velcro straps to keep them on the foot and come in various sizes. Measure the width across your dog's foot to determine his correct size. Booties are made from materials such as nylon or rubber, with nonslip fabric on the bottom to provide grip. Choose reusable or disposable booties for your pet.
Make your dog's booties at home with two pair of children's fleece socks with rubberized bottoms. Choose a size that best fits your dog's paw. Secure the sock with a strip of double-sided Velcro wrapped around his ankle. Socks won't be waterproof, but they will keep your pet safe from slipping and road chemicals. Fleece is warm, soft on the foot and dries quickly. Waterproof homemade booties by covering them with an uninflated balloon or a plastic baggie.