Is snow bad for dogs paws?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

As a dog owner myself, I have experienced firsthand the effects of winter weather on my dog’s paws. Snow and ice can definitely be tough on their delicate paw pads. Here are some reasons why snow can be bad for dogs’ paws:

1. Frostbite risk: When dogs walk on snow or ice for extended periods of time, their paws are at risk of frostbite. Just like humans, dogs can get frostbite when their skin is exposed to extreme cold for too long. The sensitive paw pads are particularly vulnerable to this. Signs of frostbite include pale or grayish skin, blisters, and pain. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.

2. Dryness and cracking: Snow and ice can also dry out your dog’s paw pads, leading to chapped or cracked skin. This can be painful for your furry friend and may even cause bleeding. Dry, cracked paw pads can make it uncomfortable for your dog to walk, and they may start limping or favoring certain paws.

3. Chemicals and salt: During the winter, many areas use salt or chemical deicers to melt snow and ice on roads and sidewalks. These substances can be harmful to dogs if they come into contact with their paws. Salt can cause irritation and burning, while certain chemicals may be toxic if ingested by your dog. It’s important to rinse your dog’s paws with warm water after walks to remove any residue from these substances.

Now that we know the potential risks, what can we do to protect our furry friends’ paws during the winter?

1. Limit exposure: Try to minimize your dog’s time outside in extreme cold or snowy conditions. Shorten your walks and provide indoor playtime or mental stimulation instead. If your dog enjoys the snow, make sure to take frequent breaks indoors to warm up.

2. Paw protection: Consider using dog booties or paw wax to provide a barrier between your dog’s paw pads and the cold, wet ground. Booties can help keep their paws warm and protect them from ice, salt, and chemicals. Paw wax, on the other hand, creates a protective layer on the paw pads, preventing them from drying out or cracking.

3. Moisturize: Just like we use lip balm to prevent chapped lips, you can apply a paw balm or moisturizer to your dog’s paw pads. Look for products specifically formulated for dogs, as human moisturizers may contain ingredients that are harmful if ingested. Applying a moisturizer regularly can help keep your dog’s paw pads hydrated and less prone to cracking.

4. Wipe and rinse: After each walk, wipe your dog’s paws with a clean, damp cloth to remove any snow, ice, or chemicals they might have picked up. It’s also a good idea to rinse their paws with warm water to ensure all residue is removed. Be sure to dry their paws thoroughly to prevent any additional moisture from causing further issues.

5. Trim fur between paw pads: Excess fur between the paw pads can collect snow, ice, and salt, making it more difficult for your dog to walk comfortably. Regularly trimming this fur can help prevent this buildup and keep your dog’s paws clean.

Remember, every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to observe your dog’s behavior and paw condition during the winter months and make adjustments as needed. If you notice any persistent issues or if your dog’s paws appear swollen or infected, consult with your veterinarian for further guidance.