Tips and Suggestions for Winter Paw Care

If you live in an area with a lot of ice and snow during the winter, or even if you live in a more temperate climate, it only takes a few, simple steps and suggestions to keep your dogs’ paws’ and nails well-maintained during cold weather.

Try clipping your pet’s nails on a monthly basis. Get your dog acclimated to having her feet handled by running your fingers over and under her toes and paws as she is relaxed and sitting by you, or just before she falls asleep. Make sure to separate the toes and trim just the tip every time, so that you don’t cut down into the vascular “quick” of the nail causing her pain and bleeding. If you trim the tips on a regular basis, the nails will never grow long enough to twist the toes or cause her distress.

If your dog is out in the snow or rain, dry her feet with a soft towel whenever she comes back in. This not only keeps her from tracking dirt into your house, but prevents her from slipping on linoleum or hardwood floors and removes any moisture that can remain between the pads and cause possible fungal infections. While drying her feet, you can also check for any cuts or abrasions caused by ice.

Trim the hair between her paw pads and her toes regularly so that ice and snow don’t get trapped there and create cuts and sores. If you find ice in the hair, place her feet in a tub or bowl of warm water to melt it, and gently dry with a warm towel. You can also use a hand-held hair dryer set on medium to get rid of the ice.

Watch for signs of frostbite on her paws and toes. If you notice changes in coloring ranging from red, inflamed skin to blackened areas, blisters, pain, or sloughing of skin on her extremities, she needs immediate gentle warming in a warm bowl of water and veterinary care. DO NOT rub her paws to warm them as any injured tissue can slough off and create more damage.

Dog booties may be your best preventive during snow season, if your dog will wear them. They can be purchased online and at most pet retailers.