How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws During Winter Hikes

Last updated on September 8th, 2020 at 03:49 pm. Originally published on September 6th, 2020

Just like humans, dogs can get antsy being cooped up inside during the winter months! Your furry friend still needs regular exercise, and it’s always more fun to bring a buddy along on a hike. However, just like you need different gear to hike in winter, your dog needs some extra protection as well.

How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws During Winter Hikes

The cold snow and ice, and the salt and other products sometimes used to melt ice can be harmful to your dog, especially if he’s on a long hike with you. You’ll want to make sure you know how to protect dog paws in winter before you bring your dog along with you. There are several products out there that you can use for dog paw protection. Once you settle on one, try it out with your dog on a short walk around the neighborhood to make sure he finds it comfortable before heading out on a long hike with him.

How to protect dog paws in winter

There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re protecting dog paws in winter. For starters, make sure your dog is groomed. Long hair, especially around their feet, can attract ice balls, salt crystals, and ice-melting chemicals that stick to his fur. Be sure your pup gets groomed regularly, with the hair and nails trimmed. Also, after a walk or hike, be sure to wash and wipe your dog’s paws to get any salt or other muck off their feet. This will also help to keep them from licking the chemicals off their paws, and possibly making themselves sick.

If your dog is elderly, a puppy, or a short-haired dog, check with your vet before planning a long hike – those dogs are most susceptible to the cold. You may also want to consider a sweater for your dog, along with foot protection. You also want to be careful not to wash your dog too much during cold weather. Baths can remove essential oils that are already on your dog and lead to dry, itchy skin. If you do bathe your dog, be sure to use a moisturizing shampoo formulated for pets.

Dog paw protection

It’s important to protect your dog’s paws during the cold. You may want to try one – or several – of these ideas on your pup this winter!

1.) Paw wax

Just as your hands and lips can get cracked and raw during the dry, cold winter months, so can your pup’s. The ice-melting chemicals can make dry paws even worse. Paw wax works like lotion or lip balm to keep your dog’s paws from painful cracking and sores. Look for a non-toxic paw wax (sometimes called paw balm) to apply to your dog’s paws. To apply, clean your dog’s feet, dry them, and then apply the balm to the pads of your dog’s feet and in between the toes. Here are a few paw balms that are safe to use on your dog:

You can also make your own paw balm. This recipe from the American Kennel Club uses shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax – the same ingredients in a lot of premium skin products for humans. If you have dog-owning friends and family, you could even make a big batch of this paw balm and package it up for some very unique Christmas presents. Their pups will thank you for it!

2.) Petroleum jelly

You can rub petroleum jelly on the pads of your dog’s feet before heading outside. It will act as a barrier and help keep salt and other chemicals from irritating their paws.

3.) Dog Hair Trimmers

You may want a small trimmer so you can keep the area around your dog’s feet clear of fur. This will keep ice crystals and ice-melt chemicals from clinging to your dog’s paws. Here are a few to try:

4.) Dog Booties

Dog booties for snow may look a little silly but they offer a whole lot of protection for your dog’s paws. The booties keep their paws off the cold ice and snow, and keep ice-melt chemicals, salt, and other irritants from getting in between your dog’s pads and toes. They also protect against cuts from ice, sticks, or other objects that could be buried in the snow. With doggie booties for cold weather, you don’t need to worry about washing dirt and chemicals off your dog’s paws after a hike.

You may need to practice with your dog to get him used to the booties – many dogs have a hard time figuring them out at first. Have him walk around in the booties and get used to them several times before you try taking him on a longer walk or hike. Here are a few cute booties to look at for your pup:

5.) Dog Wipes

It’s important to clean the chemicals, salt, and grime from around your dog’s paws after a walk. These grooming wipes have aloe vera and other natural ingredients so they’re safe on your pup’s paws.

Salt on dog paws

To prevent salt on dog paws, try coating them in petroleum jelly before you go on a walk. Alternatively, you could try a set of dog booties. Definitely make sure to clean your dog’s paws afterward and put some moisturizing pet balm on the pads of their feet.

Your pets need time outdoors in winter, and it’s a lot of fun to bring them along on hikes. Many dogs are thrilled to frolic in snowdrifts and to chase snowballs and dig in fresh powder. With a little prep work ahead of time and some attention to their paws after you’re done, you can make sure that your dog’s feet stay healthy and whole all winter long!

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