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13 Vital Tips To Protect Your Dog’s Paws In Winter (Snow)

Protect Dog Paws In Winter

Wintertime is such a wonderful experience for dogs. 

You’ll often see them jumping and rolling around the cold surface. 

But too much of a good thing is dangerous. 

They can get too cold. Their paws get dry and may crack.

Want to know how to prevent this from happening?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Keep reading to discover:

  • 11 dog breeds that don’t do well in the cold.
  • 13 vital tips to protect your dog’s paws in winter. 
  • 5 products that help protect doggy paws in cold temperatures.
  • Precisely why nail care helps your dog walk better in the snow.
  • And many, many more…

Do dogs’ paws get cold (in the snow)?

Dogs’ paws get cold in the snow at 45 F° (7.2 C°). So they should only be outside for short potty breaks. Especially at temperatures below 20 F° (- 6.6 C°). Dogs with thin coats, those who are inside dogs, and breeds not suited for the cold will have trouble adjusting to low temperatures.

How cold is too cold for a dog’s paws?

It’s too cold for a dog’s paws when temperatures drop below 45 F° (7.2 C°). At 32 F° (0 C°), dogs with thin coats or smaller breeds need to go inside. 

And below 20 F° (- 6.6 C°) is dangerous for doggos. This makes them prone to hypothermia.

This is a condition where a dog’s temperature is lower than normal. Which is between 99.5 F° (37.5 C°) and 102. 5 F° (39.16 C°).

Low temperatures also expose dogs to danger from frostbite. It happens as a result of their body’s attempt to protect itself from the cold. 

VCA says that blood flow gets restricted to the body’s core. In combination with the cold temperature, this causes the tissues to freeze. 

PetMD says that these factors affect how much cold they can stand:

  • Age.
  • Size.
  • Health.
  • Weight.
  • Coat type. 
  • Coat color. 

It also depends on where they live. Dogs who live in colder climates can handle cold better than those who don’t.

“How will I know that my dog is in danger of hypothermia and frostbite?”

These are signs that your dog is uncomfortable with the temperature: :

  • Shake. 
  • Shiver.
  • Whine.
  • Move slowly.
  • Want to go inside. 

Take them inside. Hypothermia is a very serious condition for your dog to go through.

According to PetMD, dogs left in the cold can have a bad case of hypothermia. 

They will:

  • Collapse. 
  • Stop shivering. 
  • Have fixed and dilated pupils.

Their heart rates will slow down and they might die if they don’t have immediate treatment.

How do I know if my dog’s paws are too cold?

You’ll know that your dog’s paws are too cold when they try to keep them off the snow. 

Your dog will hold their paws up.

They might be whining and trying to go to warmer places.

Take them inside your house. Keep them warm with a hot water bottle and thick blankets. 

Don’t let them out for too long. Especially if they’re a breed that doesn’t do too well in the cold.

These are dogs who have short coats. Or their body fat content isn’t enough to insulate them from the temperature.

Like the:

  • Visla.
  • Boxer.
  • Bulldog.
  • Shi Tzu.
  • Whippet.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Dachshund.
  • Great Dane.
  • Boston Terrier.
  • Yorkshire Terrier.
  • Miniature Pinscher.

13 vital tips to protect your dog’s paws in winter (snow, salt, etc.)

#1: Check their paws frequently

Check Your Dog's Paws To Protect Them In Winter

Winter is a great season. And most dogs often love to roll around on the snow-covered ground. 

But it’s dangerous if they stay out too long. 

Their paws can get dry and chapped. The skin can even crack. 

Snow, ice, and deicing salt can get stuck between their toes. 

So it’s important to check their paws every so often.

#2: Groom the hair between their paws

All dogs have hair between their toes. 

But there are some breeds who have a lot of it. 

Especially breeds suitable to live in a cold climate. Like the Siberian Husky or the Alaskan Malamute. 

Grooming the fur there is essential in winter. 

Long hair between their paws makes it easier for salt, rocks, and ice balls to form or get stuck in between.

When that happens it’s uncomfortable for your dog. They’ll have difficulty walking. And in icy places, they can slip. 

It’s because their paws don’t have traction on the surface. 

For your dog, it’s like walking on ice with shoes made of ice. 

You might also want to know: 13 Dog Breeds With Fur Between Toes (Updated)

#3: Keep their nails trimmed 

Do this in tandem with grooming their paw fur.

Long nails cause your dog’s paws to spread wider. This gives a larger space for snow or salt to squeeze into.

This also puts your dog at risk for arthritis. 

What happens is that there’s pressure from the nails as they press onto the ground.

This forces your dog’s joints to adjust. The joints have to keep an unnatural position. Which causes significant pain.

And according to NFAH, if this goes on for long, it will cause arthritis in your pooch.

This is why nail care is very important for your doggo. 

Ideally, your dog’s nails shouldn’t touch the ground. Especially when your pooch is standing.

PetMD says the best way to achieve this is by trimming their nails a little bit per week.

“I don’t know how to trim my dog’s nails. What should I do?”

If you don’t have any prior experience cutting dog nails, here are some steps to follow.

You can do this with puppies who’re still new to the nail trimming experience.

Step 1: Choose a nail trimmer that’s fit for dog nails. You can use a nail grinder. Or nail clippers with a safety guard.

Step 2: Have your pooch relax. You can pet them. Or spend a minute doing a dog relaxation massage. This will help to prepare them for the trimming.

Step 3: Hold their paw firmly but gently. Examine their paws for the “quick”. This is the vein that runs inside their nails. In white claws, it’s easy to tell where it ends. 

The ideal place to cut is just above the vein. But if your dog has black claws, trim a little bit every week. Because it can be hard to tell where the vein ends.

Step 4: Angle the trimmer downward and cut quickly. If you’re using a grinder, let your dog get used to the sound and the vibrations. 

Step 5: Give them a treat after you cut their nails. 

Note:  There are times when accidents will happen. You can’t avoid cutting the nerve sometimes. So stop the bleeding with a piece of cotton and wash the nail.

The blood stops flowing eventually but there’s a risk for infection. This is why it’s important to disinfect the wound. 

You can do this with an antibacterial spray. Do a few spritzes on your dog’s affected nail. 

#4: Apply vaseline

Have your pup’s paws become dry and chapped? 

Then you need to keep those paws moisturized. 

Vaseline is a cheap and easily available way to do this. 

It helps their skin heal by creating a protective barrier. 

And this also helps with protecting their paws from the snow. 

It keeps snow or dirt from getting between their toes. And making it uncomfortable for them to walk. 

Note: While vaseline isn’t poisonous to dogs if ingested, you should monitor what your dog does. And prevent excessive licking. The latter could result into an upset tummy and lead to diarrhea.

#5: Invest in paw balm

In place of petroleum jelly, you can buy a specially formulated balm for dog paws.

Some have a special blend of waxes and oils that can protect and moisturize their paws. 

Take for example these ones:

Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax is one of the most popular balms. It’s featured in the news and TVshows. And it’s formulated for sled dogs. 

It’s like a lotion that’s fast-absorbing. So your pooch won’t leave stains all over your carpet or furniture.

If you like a multi-purpose balm, then Primens Dog Paw Wax for Dry Paws & Nose is for you. This balm has aloe vera and vitamin E. 

It’s also safe for dogs who like to lick their paws

Remember to apply these before you go for your walks. 

These paw protectors don’t only work during wintertime.

But they also protect your doggo from:

  • Rocky trails.
  • Hot pavements.
  • Sandy beaches.

#6: Use paw booties

Use Paw Booties

The AHS recommends using booties for your dogs in winter. 

It gives their paws a pretty reliable barrier against the elements. 

With booties, there’s less chance of deicing chemicals or salt coming in contact with their paws. 

Of course, it also protects your doggo. And prevents the following from getting stuck in their paws:

  • Ice.
  • Salt.
  • Mud.
  • Sand.
  • Snow. 

Don’t know how to choose booties for your dog? Then watch this video for tips and tricks:

#7: Go on short walks

What’s another way to prevent damage to your dog’s paws? 

For one, you can take shorter walks in the wintertime. 

Just bring your pooch out for potty breaks and bring them inside as soon as they’re done. 

This minimizes the time that they’re exposed to the cold. So this method’s best for dogs with thin or short coats. And those who aren’t used to cold weather.

And it lessens the risk of contact with deicing chemicals and road salt.

#8: Wash paws after walks

Some dog parents really can’t avoid walking on the treated roads.

Sometimes there are no other spots to take your dog. You have to take the paths with road salt or deicing agents on them. 

So wash their paws after walks. You can keep a paw cleaner on the coat rack. And give your dog an initial paw wash.

After that, you can bring them to the bathroom for a more thorough rinse with warm water and doggy soap. 

“Why do I have to do this?”

Road salt and deicers can cause dangerous problems for your pooch. 

Ethos Vet says that the chemicals from these can cause burns. Especially if they stay your dog’s paws. 

It’s also dangerous if your pooch licks their paws and ingests the chemicals. 

Take for example this case study of one vet. A dog parent took in his dog who had eaten a large amount of salt. 

The dog showed the following signs of salt toxicity:

  • Shock.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Comatose.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Fast heartbeat.

This happens because salt will affect nervous system cells the most. Any slight variation in sodium levels is dangerous for your pooch.

The vet had to immediately give the dog:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Anticonvulsants.
  • Anti-emetic therapy.
  • Oxygen and fluid therapy. 

Warning: Dogs don’t often survive salt toxicity. And those who do will need more medical after-care in order for the rest of their lives. 

To protect your dog from this, take extra precautions. Especially when walking them during the wintertime. 

#9: Avoid deiced spots on the road

This can be difficult to do. Especially if your community requires their pavements deiced. 

But these spots are usually easy to spot. 

Just avoid areas where the snow has melted. These are often slushy. 

Doing this will help you protect your dog from exposure to road salts and other deicing agents. 

Warning: You should also avoid areas near cars. Some cars will use antifreeze. And it can drip down to contaminate the area around it. Antifreeze is poisonous for dogs. 

It contains a chemical called ethylene glycol. VCA says that this is an active ingredient in antifreeze for cars. 

Dogs like it because of its sweet taste. But just a very small amount will result in severe poisoning for your pooch. 

Within 30 minutes dogs will start to display the signs:

  • Coma.
  • Seizures.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Incoordination. 
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Excessive urination.

And without proper treatment, dogs will experience these within 72 hours:

  • Death.
  • Lethargy.
  • Depression.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Lack of appetite. 

If your dog licks antifreeze, call the Pet Poison Helpline right away. And take your dog to the emergency vet. Immediate treatment is a must for ethylene glycol poisoning. 

#10: Use ice melters safe for doggy paws

Of course, you have to melt the ice on your lawn and the pathways in your house. 

It’s also for your family’s safety. But for your pets, it can be dangerous. 

You don’t have to worry, I’ve got you.

 There are doggy-safe deicers that you can buy:

#11: Designated potty break areas

If you want to make it extra safe for your pooch, you can avoid deicers around your house.  

Instead, you can clear a small area in your yard. And designate that as the potty break spot for your pooch. 

And to prevent snow from sticking to their paws you can spread sand or straw. 

This will also prevent them from losing their grip on the slippery ground. 

And there you have it. 

A space where your pooch can do their business in peace. Without the need for ice melters. 

You might also want to check out: 17 Quick & Easy Tips To Stop Dogs From Peeing On Your Lawn

#12: Keep your pup hydrated

Winter can wreak havoc on your dog’s hydration levels. 

In other words, it’s very easy for dogs to get dehydrated during cold weather. 

And with dehydration, comes dry and chapped paws. This makes it easier for them to get injuries while walking on the cold ground. 

So let your dog drink water regularly. Especially when you’re planning a short winter hike. 

And in your house, refresh your dog’s water bowl every so often. 

“Just how much water should my dogs drink?”

Dr. Danielle Downs says that for about a 50 lbs (22.6 kg) dog, 1 liter per day is the goal. And this is for dogs who aren’t that active. 

An active dog needs about 3 times that amount.

This study says that for working dogs in cold climates, the water requirement is about 3.69 quarts (3.5 liters) per day. 

In fact, this is almost the same requirement for active dogs working in hot weather. 

#13: Keep your dog cozy and warm

Of course, this is a must. Especially during the cold winter months. 

Keeping your pooch warm is also something you can do to help protect their paws. 

Warmth allows blood circulation to keep going. 

Plus, it helps their paws from getting dry due to cold temperatures. 

“How can I keep my dog warm on walks?”

Aside from keeping walks short, you can let them wear a dog vest or sweater. 

This is especially useful for dogs who are:

  • Small. 
  • Short-coated.
  • Naturally thin.

Here are some that you can buy for your doggo:

All these tips are all important steps to take in protecting your dog’s paws. 

But there are times when despite all you do, your pooch ends up with cracked paws. 

In case it happens, Vetericyn advises dog parents to do these steps:

Step 1: Always check your dog’s paws. Especially after a walk on the cold ground. If your dog keeps licking their paws, it’s a sign of injury. 

Step 2: If irritated spots are on their paw, wash and dry them. Apply an antimicrobial gel to their paw. 

Step 3: Wrap it in gauze and have your dog wear booties. This prevents them from chewing at the paw and making it worse. 

Step 4: If you notice wounds or cracks, rinse the area with an antiseptic solution.

Step 5: Then apply the antimicrobial gel to the wound. Cover with gauze and let your dog wear booties. 

Note: Take your pooch to the vet if they keep showing signs of discomfort. This can be licking or chewing their paws.