For pet owners, magical walks in the snow with the dog are one of the best parts of winter. It’s a great way to enjoy the crisp Toronto weather while making sure you – and your pooch – get some much-needed exercise.
In our previous posts, we gave you our top tips to help you walk into winter the right way, from winter footwear to winter foot care. But winter doesn’t just affect human feet; it can also affect the paws of our four-legged walking companions. So this holiday season, we’re not just putting feet first – we’re also putting paws first!
To help, we asked the experts next door at ZenDog for their recommendations on how you can keep your pooch’s paws healthy this winter. Located in the heart of the Bloor West Village (right next to us), ZenDog is a fantastic local business offering only the best products from trusted, reputable suppliers. They gave us some valuable winter paw care advice to get your dog through the chilly season and put your pup’s paws first
What Happens To Your Dog’s Paws During Winter
The main dangers facing your puppy during the wintertime are salt, snow, cold air, and ice.
Salt is the biggest hazard to paw health, and the sidewalks and roads are full of it in the winter months. While salt helps melt ice and makes these surfaces less slippery, as a pet owner, it’s important to understand that this salt can also endanger exposed paws. Repeated contact with salt can create a split in the skin under the paw (so does hot pavement during the summer). Cracked paws can then lead to irritation and discomfort – just like cracked heels would on human feet.
There’s also the problem of ingesting the salt. After a long winter walk, your dog may attempt to lick their paws. This can be very dangerous if you don’t wash your dog’s paws first or protect them with boots, as ingesting salt can cause vomiting, dehydration and an upset stomach
Cold Air, Snow and Ice
Humans experience dry skin during the winter, and so does your pup! The cold, dry air can strip your dog’s paws from moisture the same way it does to human feet. If you’re not careful, prolonged exposure to ice and snow can even lead to frostbite. Telltale signs of mild frostbite include flinching when you touch their paws or licking the pads of their paws.
Fortunately, there are some great solutions to protect dog’s paws from these hazards:
How You Can Protect Your Dog’s Paws
This all-natural, organic wax blend is a great product to have on hand for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind. Since salt from the sidewalks and winter weather can cause irritation and cracked paws, this nourishing and moisturizing balm creates a layer of protection and can last for your entire time outside.
As long as you’re sure to apply before your winter walks or playing, it can protect against the cold, icy winter terrain and salt. It also has healing and soothing properties if your dog’s paws are already looking a little worn and irritated. Furthermore, there is no need to worry about your dog ingesting anything dangerous – your pup can lick away without getting sick! (Although, it’s important to keep an eye on that so they don’t also lick off the whole product.)
Ingredients in Pawtection Balm include:
- Organic mango butter, rice bran oil, sunflower oil, and carnauba wax
- Sunflower wax
- Candelilla wax
- Natural vitamin E
- Benzoin resin
- Lavender essential oil
- Rosemary extract
Balloonies (rubber booties) are another way to protect your dogs’ paws first this winter. If you’re looking for something disposable that you don’t have to clean, Protex Pawz Rubber Dog Boots are a great choice for your pup’s paws this winter.
Protex balloonies are also easy to put on, letting you skip the zippers and straps. Let’s face it; dogs are often ecstatic when they’re about to go for a stroll and can have trouble containing themselves. Knowing this, you’ll appreciate the hassle-free way these balloonies slip on! Lastly, they come in packs with different colour options, which is great for coordinating with your dog’s outerwear (as shown by Champ and his matching puffer jacket from ZenDog). If your dog accidentally tears one, simply take another one out of the pack and continue on your journey.
Built with a decent amount of grip, these rubber boots can help keep your dog from slipping and sliding on slippery surfaces. They also keep your home clean after you get back from walking your pup! Simply take off these little rubber booties when you get back home, and your dog is free to roam around the house without leaving a dirty, snowy trail.
For a more durable no-muss-no-fuss option, you can go with Wellies (below). Wellies are rubber dog boots, but they are made with a thicker rubber and therefore last longer. They also have an adjustable Velcro strap.
If you’d rather get something long-lasting and warm for your dog this winter (and don’t mind the extra laundry), you can check out solid dog boots!
Ruffwear (below) makes doggie boots for the avid hiker who loves to take their dog along for the adventure. Their Polar Trex boots are made for winter terrain and keep your dog’s paws feeling snug and toasty. They’re heavy-duty and suitable for long winter walks.
These boots provide a solid level of grip on slippery surfaces, just like your own favourite winter boots! This is thanks to the Vibram® Icetrek® ice-specific sole compound and winter-specific lug pattern (which just so happens to be the same technology used in Saucony’s Peregrine ICE).
Additionally, the three-layer upper is DWR (durable water repellant) coated. DWR means manufacturers add a thin layer of liquid to the outside of the boot to repel water, dirt and snow. These boots also stay on (and keep snow out!) without a fuss. The hook-and-loop closure, stretch gaiter, and zipper keep them on your dog’s paws without falling off – no matter how excited they get!
Ruffwear also makes an all-season Grip Trex dog boot for exploring the outdoors and various terrain.
Muttluks are another boot option available to dog owners. Their Snow Musher boots and original Fleece-lined Muttluks are good choices for the cold, snowy and wet winter season. The Snow Mushers may be the prime choice for winter, as they also have a fleece lining to protect from frigid temperatures and frostbite.
Additionally, they’re designed with rugged rubber soles for your pup’s traction needs. After all, dogs are just as likely to slip as their owners! Reflective accents also ensure your dog’s safety by making them visible during nighttime winter walks.