Most dogs love snow. Their natural protection of hair and paw pads allows them to enjoy the icy wonderland for longer than we can before becoming distressed. There is a limit, however, to how much exposure a dog can take before he becomes at risk to injury or illness in and from the snow. Like any other extreme weather condition, precautions should be taken to protect your dog from the natural elements. Dog paw protection for winter snow and ice is critical. Here are some common hazards caused by snow and what you can do to prevent them.
Dog Paw Protection for Winter Snow and Ice
Dog Paw Protection from Frostbite
Even though dogs have the extra added protection of padded feet, they can still get frostbite. Just as with us, frostbite is a serious condition that requires immediate professional treatment. If you suspect your dog may have frostbite, warm the affected area in warm – not hot – water. Dry the warmed area very gently with a towel (not a hair dryer), being careful not to rub. Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Limiting your dog’s exposure to wet and cold, as well as protecting his paws with booties, is the best dog paw protection against frostbite.
Dog Paw Protection against Snowballs in Between Toes
If you have a long-haired dog and live in a cold weather climate, you’ve no doubt had to deal with those nasty little snowballs that form in between your dog’s toes. These quickly turn to ice and can be difficult to remove, while in the mean time cause your dog a significant amount of discomfort or pain. To remove them quickly, place your dog’s feet in warm water – not hot – until the ice melts. It is better to prevent them from even forming in the first place however. This can be accomplished by keeping the hair in between your dog’s toes trimmed very short during the winter months for extra dog paw protection.
Dog Paw Protection from Frozen Objects that Cut
Icicles aren’t the only sharp hazards outside in winter. Things that might normally be fairly harmless – like sticks or twigs – can turn into dangerous objects once frozen. If your dog licks his paws obsessively after being outside, be sure to check closely for any signs of lacerations and treat accordingly. To prevent this type of injury, try one of the many products you can find online or at most pet stores. There is everything from protective wax that you apply topically before going out to insulated, waterproof booties.
Dog Paw Protection from Salt and De-Icing Chemicals
Many of the products we use to melt ice from drives and walkways can be very dangerous for our dogs in two ways. The chemicals can be very irritating to a dog’s pads, causing them to dry out, crack and bleed. Once this happens, the risk of infection becomes another issue. A dog’s normal reaction to this type of irritation is to lick his paws, and in doing so actually ingests those toxic chemicals. Once in the intestinal tract, your dog can become ill and start vomiting or develop diarrhea. Booties are a good preventative for this hazard as well, but better yet, switch to one of the many “paw safe” de-icing products now widely available.
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