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Winter Paw Care for Healthy, Happy Feet

Just as you might pay special attention to your pet’s paws during hot summer days, winter brings its own challenges for paw health and safety.

Paw care is an essential part of your pet care regimen. To enjoy the dog days of, er, winter, consider these tips to keep your pet’s feet in tip-top shape.

Protecting Paws With Winter Paw Care

From snow and ice to chilly temperatures, the elements can be especially harsh on sensitive paws. Compound this with the use of harsh chemicals and deicers, it quickly becomes tough to take Fido out for his daily walk.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risks to your pet’s paws. Here are some effective tips for paw care during the winter:

  • Rock salt and chemical deicers are not only abrasive, they’re also toxic if ingested. Prevent your pet from licking or ingesting snowmelt, and clean his or her feet and lower legs with a warm washcloth upon returning home.
  • Make a habit of inspecting your pet’s paws each day, looking for signs of dryness, cracking, inflammation, or other damage.
  • Rather than exposing your pet’s paws to ice and road chemicals, consider investing in quality dog booties, suitable for the winter months.
  • Paw pad balm or other pet-safe moisturizers can help prevent problems associated with dryness and cracking.
  • Keep your pet’s paws clean and well-groomed. Long nails or excess fur can encourage ice, snow, and road salts to become lodged between the toes.
  • On days the weather is particularly unpleasant, consider alternative indoor activities for your pet. Try a game of fetch with a Nerf-type ball or perhaps spend the day at doggie daycare.

When Your Pet Has Dry or Cracked Paw Pads

When your pet’s paws get too dry, they can sometimes crack and cause bleeding. This is where paw balm or moisturizer can make a big difference. Keep in mind, however, that lotion or other products meant for our skin may be unsafe for dogs and cats. Look for a species-specific brand at your local pet supply store.

If there are minor abrasions, begin by cleaning your pet’s paw pads with a gentle antiseptic ointment or solution. If there’s bleeding, you may wish to bandage the paw or use a dry sock over the foot. Because healing can be impeded when moisture is present, be sure to change the bandage or wrap often and keep the wound site dry and clean.

If the problem doesn’t improve within a few days or if the abrasions are deep, please call us for an appointment. While winter weather is likely the cause of paw dryness and bleeding, issues with your pet’s feet may also indicate underlying health issues.

For more information about how to keep your pet’s paws in good condition all year long, please phone the team at West Park Animal Hospital.

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