Tip of the Month: Snowballs in the Paws!
Snow snow snow, everywhere there is snow and where there is snow, there are snowballs – in your dog's paws!
Snow will gather in the hair of your dog's paws. Within the moist sweat glands in your dog's feet that snow will quickly turn into iceballs. All too often those unwanted additions will actually become quite uncomfortable, even painful for your snow frolicking pooch! Once the novelty of going for a snowy walk has worn off, you may notice your dog hopping, limping, holding a leg up and even flatly refusing to continue. If forced to walk on those iceballs some sensitive pads (especially the pink ones) can be bruised and even sliced. Once your dog is inside, they can be seen trying to bite and lick their paws constantly for relief.
There are several tips that you can use to help prevent snowballs in the paws and also ways to deal withthem, once formed.
Trim Hairs Between Toes
The first and foremost preventative is to trim the hair in between the toes of your dog's paws and all around the outside so that snow has less opportunity to stick and become embedded between their toes. Be sure to use rounded scissors and lots of patience (and treats!) when taking care of this detail.
Coat Your Dog's Feet
There are safe options to help repel snow from attaching to your dog's pads such as: a coating of petroleum jelly, udder balm, or what sled dog trainer's use “Musher's Wax Secret”. You can even spray your dog's pads with a vegetable oil. When your dog returns inside they will likely lick their pads clean - any of these options are safe. It's a good idea to confine your dog to their matt or bed while they cleanup, to avoid having any coating on your floors.
Wear Grip Booties
If you'd rather not coat your dogs pads, other options to deal with snowballs would be to use grip type booties you can velco on to your dog's feet. Use the kind that fasten at the top so they don't provide snow pockets. Also, introduce boots gradually as many dogs will be dumbfounded with what the heck is on their feets!
Shorten Outdoor Time in Winter
You could just enjoy short winter walks and/or deal with the snowballs once inside if your dog doesn's seem bothered by them. Keeping a whisk or a hairdryer handy inside the door works great (use the warm not hot setting).
Use a Foot Bath After Being Outside
Another ideal method I like to suggest, especially for city dogs, will also deal with any salts or chemical melting compounds used on pavement. Simply, have a small footbath pan with luke warm (not hot) water just inside your entrance, useful to dip your dogs feet into briefly then towel dry. Double win solution!
Any which way you choose to deal with your dog's discomfort from snowballs in the paws is just fine! Your dog will surely look forward to those snowy walks, all the more grateful that the effects are easily managed by their ever dedicated owner!
Need help training your dog? Ask me about dog-owner training today!