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November 2, 2011 at 1:19 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Winter Care for Your Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

I don't really want to think about it, but I have to. THAT time of year is here - snow, blizzards, ice, salt on the sidewalks, scrapping of the car windows....brrrrrr. :/

Every fall we prepare our families for the cold weather with winter coats, boots and mittens - but what about our fur kids? Pet owners need to keep in mind their needs for this time of year too! Here's all you need to know to keep your pups happy and healthy despite the cold..

6 Winter Care Tips for Dogs

  1. Dog-Friendly Skid Proofing: Salt that is used on sidewalks, steps and driveways to de-ice can cause serious burns and damage to your pet's pads. These products can also be toxic. Please take your time to read the label to see if it is pet friendly. There is special salt made for pet owners. Sand works too, if you want to go more eco-friendly and stay away from any type of salt product.

  2. Clean Those Feet: Always wash your pet's paws after they come into the house from a walk, which will prevent them from licking them and ingesting salt chemicals. Training your dog to wear doggie booties will help to protect their pads from the harsh winter elements, but this can take time and patience and sometimes a dog just won't take to them.

  3. Moisturize Tender Paws: Keep in mind that the skid proofing materials on the ice can get into the cracks on your dog's pads and cause drying, chapping and blistering.; Check with your vet for a pet moisturizing product to put on the bottom of their pads. NEVER USE hand lotion for humans on your pet's paws, it can actually make the cracking and chapping worse.

  4. Prevent Foot Pad Snowballs: Keep the fur trimmed and clean around the paw and pad area. Dog's with lots of fur in-between their pads, can get "snowballs" stuck in their pads and these can be extremely cold and uncomfortable. It is important to do regular nail trimmings. A nail that is overgrown can cause some serious pain and grow into the pad. It also will hinder your dog's ability to walk properly and comfortably.

  5. Think About Boots: One great option is to outfit your little fur kids with their own winter coats or boots of their own. They are just a click away online! However, if your dog is like my Romeo and says No way! Don't even think about putting that on me! You'll need to take special care to make sure their pads are kept safe and comfortable in the winter weather.

  6. Consider a Coat: There are certain breeds that you should never shave their fur down as it acts as a barrier to help cool them in the summer months and to keep them warm in the winter months. (Talk to your groomer to find out if you have a breed that should not be shaved.) Others, just don't have a lot of fur to begin with. Izzy, is constantly shivering once the weather turns cool so she wears coats in the cooler and colder months to help keep her warm so she can still enjoy some cooler weather walks.

A Few Words Of Caution

If you think your dog would benefit from some winter clothing however, special consideration has to be taken. Dogs communicate with their body language and if we cover them up, they aren't able to communicate with their full body. Limit the amount of time your dog is in clothes and be aware when your dog is wearing clothes and is around other dogs. Consider removing garments while your dog is around other dogs so messages aren't mixed up.Your dog should be able to move freely while wearing any type of garment or clothing and their eyes and ears should never be blocked.

Hopefully these tips help you keep your fur kid safe during the cooler and colder months. I would like to share one final note; please NEVER leave your pets unattended outside or have them live outside. No matter what type of shelter you provide, it cannot stop the cold winds and wet snow from seeping in and frozen water dishes are just unacceptable. Winter can be unforgiving and harsh, our pets, even with their fur coats, are not meant to live or be left outside.


Dog Fancy Magazine, 2011

Home and Garden - Pets

ASPCA - Top Ten Winter Skin Paw Care Tips

Photo Credits:


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  • Thanks for posting this, Victoria. My friend's dog has very sensitive paws. Last winter they started getting red and cracked, so they took extra care of them by doing just what you suggested. They washed his paws when he came in and sometimes had him wear little booties. :)

  • Hi Bri...

    It sounds like your friends did the right thing for their fur can be very painful for our little fur friends, if not properly handled right away. I wish Rom and Iz would wear booties, but they look at me like I am CRAZY....Romeo has even fallen over onto his side when I put a coat on him and just laid there looking up at me all pathetic, he can be quiet the Drama King! LOL!

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