So I might be jumping the gun here just a little bit. I accept that the current rainy and humid mess that has become New York City is not yet the chilling winter nightmare that is just around the corner. Having said that, the chilling mess is just around the corner and that means a whole mess of issues fuzzy child’s feet. Dog paws run a great risk of falling victim to the elements when snow and ice are factored into their daily walk schedule.
What comes with chilling weather? Streets and sidewalks covered in snow and ice which inevitably leads to salt and de-icers all over the sidewalks.
This is potentially harmful for your pooch when going on even brief relief walks during these days. The salt and de-icers have chemicals in them that can be very harsh on dog paws (or specifically, the pads) causing dryness and cracking. The impulse to lick their paws after walking on the streets can lead to unintentional ingestion of said chemicals.
Fortunately, there are solutions to help during these harsh New York City cold months.
1. Consider picking up booties for your dog. There are a number of options here. There are ones with rubber on the bottom that can help with traction so your furry child doesn’t slip and slide — struggling to keep his footing. There are little ones that look like balloons that are very easy to get on and off their paws and can help with traction as well. Many of them are also waterproof to help in the rain. There are ones that velcro or slip on and off. The market for these has actually expanded quite a bit in recent years. Most pet stores carry these and finding ones that best meet your needs isn’t as difficult as it once may have been.
“But wait! My dog HATES wearing his booties! I have the hardest time getting them on and when they ARE on he/she does everything in his/her power to get them off!”
Try rewarding your pup with a treat immediately after getting the booties on. This works as both a positive reinforcement and also as a distraction. Immediately after the treat hurry them out on the walk. This distraction will also keep them focused on the new activity (the walk) versus the old activity (“put your shoes on!”)
2. Musher’s Secret. This is a gel that you rub onto your dog’s pads just prior to going out. It acts as a protective layer against the salt and ice while also allowing your dog traction. This is obviously not waterproof so your dog can still get wet feet if stepping in puddles or thick snow. The other downside is you need to wash it off immediately after getting home to ensure your pet does not lick the gel off.
Having said that, it’s a fantastic product for people who have issues getting booties on and off of their dog. I’ve also heard that petroleum jelly can be used in the same way. Obviously, the same rule for cleaning off the pads should be applied here. You don’t want your pet eating a lot of petroleum jelly. I can’t imagine that would be good.
“Oh hai! We has the same coat…”
3. Raincoats and Jackets. It’s probably helpful for most dogs to have some kind of jacket or coat in the cold weather but special consideration should be given for puppies, older dog, small-breed and short-haired dogs as well. These fuzzy friends all require more protection from the elements and even short periods outside without a coat can be difficult for them to handle.
Next time you’re coming in to see one of our fantastic doctors at University Animal Hospital ask them about options for protecting your furry child in the cold weather. They’ll have plenty of suggestions that pertain specifically to your pet.