By Stephanie Pylka, DVM, MPH
The cold weather means cold paws for your pet! There are many preventative measures that you can use to decrease the risk of a paw injury in the cold winter months. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Keep your pets’ paws trimmed/groomed!
It is best to have a groomer do this for you! Extra hair between the toes can cause snow and salt to get stuck in the hair and lead to irritation and skin infections. If you decide to try and do this yourself, you have to be very careful and use a pet grooming shaver, NOT scissors, to remove the hair as you could accidentally cut the skin.
2. Use boots!
If you are going on long walks or participating in outdoor activities, boots can be a great way to keep your dog’s paws warm and dry! Pets lose heat through their paws. If you are going to have your pet outside for more than 10 minutes in temperatures colder than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, booties should be used.
3. Wipe the paws after walks!
Ice melts/salts can be irritating and even cause an upset stomach if eaten. After getting in from a walk outside, it is a good idea to use a clean, warm cloth to wipe down all the paws. Then make sure to dry in between the toes to prevent infections from developing.
4. Apply a balm!
There are many over-the-counter products that you can purchase to apply to the paw as a protectant in the winter. Below is an easy recipe for a balm you can make at home!
RECIPE: DIY Paw Balm from American Kennel Club (AKC).
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) olive, sunflower, or sweet almond oil
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) coconut oil
- 1 oz. (approx. 1 tbsp.) shea butter
- 4 tsp. beeswax
1. In a small pot or double boiler over low heat melt the oils, shea butter, and beeswax. Stir continuously until all is melted and well blended.
2. Carefully pour the mixture into lip balm tubes and/or tins.
3. Let them cool on the counter until hard.
4. Cap and label.
5. Keep away from extreme heat.
6. Apply the balm as a preventive treatment or to help soften dry paw pads or noses. Use within 1 to 2 years.
We hope you and your furry friends have a safe and warm winter! Please contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet!