Oh Those Freezing Paws!

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera

by Sandi Martinez

Let’s face it, just because freezing temperatures pay a visit, doesn’t mean that our pet’s needs take the backseat. They still require exercise, and a place to relieve themselves. Long, and laid-back walks in warm weather, get quickly cut short in very cold weather.

If you have a big backyard, but it’s covered in several inches of snow, it’s not enough space if your dog can’t get around. In a few minutes, a path can be cleared for your pet to comfortably do their thing, while at the same time you get some exercise! However, in situations where sidewalks are your dog’s walking ground, there’s always the chance that if de-icers have been used, these chemicals will result in dry, chapped, and painful paws. Your pet will likely lick their paws, which causes gastrointestinal irritation and upset.  Rinse off your pet’s feet after a walk, with a warm, wet cloth, or in bath water. If you need to de-ice your driveway, and sidewalks, a more eco friendly de-icer would be a way to take preventative measures against your dog becoming ill.

If your dog is long-haired, or simply has lots of hair, clearing away clumps of snow between their pads would be very helpful to prevent a limping dog; keeping their hair clipped short, will also minimize the tendency for snow-clumping in this area. For the more cooperative pet who doesn’t mind wearing a nice pair of boots, there are many different kinds, colors, and shapes to choose from at your local pet store, or online.

Applying even, thin layers of protective balm, also helps to protect your dog’s paws. Be aware of how long your walks are, as dogs can also get frostbite and hypothermia. Some signs of hypothermia are moving slowly, shivering, anxiety, muscle stiffness, low heart, and breathing rates, fixed and dilated pupils, collapse, and coma. But you can prevent your dog from getting to this point by doing the following: leave your dog outside for long periods, only if he/she has access to warm, and dry shelter; watch for changes in wind chill factor, and for wet conditions (carry a towel on your walk – a dog’s body temperature can drop quickly); take your dog outside only to relieve him/herself if they are sensitive to cold weather.

So while winter can be tough on our pets, we can help them through it by being more cautious and thoughtful of their care!