I love my dog’s paws.
I love the hugeness of them. I love the furriness of them. I love the feel of them.
And I even love the smell of them.
Because I love those paws of theirs so much I want to keep them happy and healthy, which can be somewhat of a challenge in the winter months since we spend so much time outdoors. Winter can be just down right cruel at times, and while there are several dogs who don’t enjoy being out in the snow for extended periods of time, my dogs are not among them.
I have issues trying to get my dogs to stop counting snowflakes long enough to come and defrost for a few minutes.
Besides that, my biggest challenge in the winter is snowballs getting stuck on their paws.
Everybody likes a good snowball except when your dog has them stuck between their pads. These can be painful and cause dogs to limp, they can cause mats to form, and they can cause a lot of irritation to the skin on the bottom of the paws.
Here’s how I safely try to keep Sherman and Leroy’s paws protected in the winter.
- Trimmed paws. I keep their paws nice and trimmed. I use straight shears and cut so that the hair is even with the pads, but you have to be extra careful when using straight shears. If you’re not comfortable with using scissors or slippers, thinning shears will work just fine. When I’m trimming I check for mats that may have formed and carefully cut those away. Again, you should only do this if you are comfortable. Most dogs are very ticklish with the hair on the bottom of their feet so it can be challenging. You can also just take your dog to an experienced groomer and have them do it.
- Wipe. When the boys come in from being out in the snow I will often use a warm washcloth or towel to wipe their paws to help melt the snowballs. This also helps to remove any salt or deicers that they have walked through on the sidewalks. I always follow up by wiping with a dry towel. Wet paws can lead to red, irritated paws, which can be very painful.
- Paw balm. Paw balm works great to try and keep snowballs away. I usually apply it right before they go outside and once again after I have dried their paws. It can also work as a barrier to protect from deicers. We’ve used Musher’s Secret before but now I just make my own Homemade Paw Balm.
- Dog boots. Dog boots can be a great addition to protecting paws in the winter but they can be hard to find for the giant breeds. Luckily Muttluks come big enough for our dogs! We have a pair for Sherman and they have always worked well. They keep his paws dry and are easy for him to walk in.
- Pet safe deicers. Our back patio gets very icy in the winter and I always have some pet friendly deicer. I make sure it’s salt-free, eco-friendly and does not contain any toxic chemicals. While I do my best to try and not let the back patio get icy, sometimes that is beyond my control. If I need to use a deicer I try and do it when I know the dogs won’t be walking on it for a few hours, but I can’t control when my fellow neighbors throw their deicer down. I’ve heard that some people use cat litter, gravel, or sand as a natural way to remove ice but that just wouldn’t be a safe option here since Leroy likes to eat anything that resembles a rock.
- Stop the licking! I do my best to try and keep Sherman and Leroy from licking at their paws. Constant licking can lead to irritation and infection, so if I see them licking I try to refocus their attention with belly rubs.
Winter is a fun time of year for Sherman and Leroy and I want to make sure they are safe and protected from the dangers that can come along with it, and of course, keep those precious paws protected.