Pawsicles -- taking care of your dogs paws in the snow

This has been the craziest week of weather for us in Seattle! At the first sight of snow the dogs and I were esthetic to go play in the fluffy white stuff. Now a few days later, the honeymoon phase of the snow has faded, and it's time to start being practical! Ok, to be fair, if it were still all fluffy snow I wouldn't be complaining, but this sheet of ice covering the city kind of has me concerned. My main concern today, that I want to share with you, is our poor little pups paws in this weather. Here's a few things to look out for and suggestions to remedy/prevent potential problems:

  • {ice will cut paws}the situation we have right now with a couple inches of snow and a covering of ice on top is dangerous for the pups paws b/c as they break through that layer of ice they can cut their paws. Also, snow and ice can get in between toes and stuck in the hair on the bottom of their paws.  In deep snow a dog will spread its toes and depending on the type of snow it can actually cause small cuts in the soft areas between the toes. Ice can be rough underfoot and also sharp, so it can cause abrasions and cuts.
        • {solution a} Booties - there are little rubber foot liners such as Pawz Dog Boots that are just little liners - they are cheap and disposable. While they don't help with warmth all that much, they will keep the snow out of the hair in their paws. I have seen them available at All The Best. Another option is Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots, these are much more durable and actually real boots for their paws. They provide great protection from the snow as well as the sharp ice. They are pretty spendy, and you will have to train your pup how to walk in them and get used to them. Here is a video of our buddy, Walker, learning how to walk in his snow boots: Vizsla in snow boots
        • {solution b}  Try and trim any excess hair in between paw pads to prevent snow/ice balls from building up. You can even even applying a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil to the area prior to the walk. Be sure to use an edible ointment/oil, as dogs often lick their feet and ingest what was applied. This will help to prevent chapping, cracking, and soreness.
        • {solution c} If you are in winter weather more often than we get here in Seattle, this may be something to look into, but considering this may be our only snow of the season, you may not be able to get this in time. With a little online research, Musher's Secret is all the rage for dogs in snow... They are invisible boots made of a clear wax. Sounds like a great idea!
  • {ice melt toxins} many of the de-icing products, as well as anti-freeze and other chemicals that are mixed in with snow on city streets are toxic to our pups. When dogs come inside they may lick their paws to try and soothe the irritation from cold snow and ice in their paws, which causes them to ingest the toxic chemicals. {solution a} Keep a bucket of warm water by the door and soak their paws and dry off with a towel before coming inside. Make sure to rub the pads to get off any harmful chemicals. {solution b} read the ASPCA's guide on top ten winter paw skin care tips {solution c} try the booties mentioned in section above!

{snowed in} If you and your pup are going crazy without your normal exercise routine, or possibly due to the fact that your dogwalker has cancelled due to snow (sorry...), you can try some indoor activities to provide some mental stimulation. This will help keep them busy and eventually tire them out. 

        • {solution a} indoor hide and seek or find the toy. depending on how much time you have, you can hide in the house and have your pup find you. Or you can show them a toy (something with treats inside helps so they can smell it better) and hide it then tell them to find it.
        • {solution b} any type of puzzle toy or interactive game toy. All The Best has a great selection of puzzles for dogs. They have to work for the treats in the toy and have to figure out how to work the toy right to get the reward. A good old bully stick can do the trick too.
        • {solution c} teach your pup a new trick! A few short 10-15 minute training sessions will provide mental stimulation and strengthen your bond. Have you ever wished your dog had a fun trick to show off? Or maybe teach your dog to close the door and turn out the lights at bedtime? Yes, I know a Vizsla who does this. Genius!  While you're both stuck inside together, now is the time! Here's a great list of dog tricks and how to teach them.

Have fun and be safe! Can't wait to see you all back at the park soon!