The winter season, or indeed any cold spell even in the warmer months, can be brutal on our doggo’s paw pads. Unlike us soft and pampered humans, dogs are barefoot year-round, and are exposed to the elements and various chemicals.
They are at risk for frostbite, cracking, injury and chemical burns. Here are some tips to help keep those fuzzy feet happy and healthy!
1. Groom Doggy Paws
Arctic dog breeds are blessed with super furry paws, to help them move around in snowy landscapes. But they need extra grooming for good health.
Hair that bunches up and folds between the paw pads can be uncomfortable, and cause your guy or gal to slip and slide. Feathery hair can also cause painful ice balls to form between and around the paw pads. You can use a beard or hair trimmer to shorten the hair between and around the pads of the feet. Don’t forget the plastic skin guard!
You should start this grooming process when your dog is just a pup so they get used to it early on – an older dog might get nervous and snap or struggle. If you have a relaxed older dog that needs foot attention, give it a try – just be calm and confident, use a reassuring voice and offer treats after. If your dog is the nervous type, a good doggy parlor will be able to give him the necessary foot-haircut without too much fuss!
Keeping your doggo’s nails trimmed is important year-round, but especially so in the winter months. Long nails force the paw to splay out, so snow and ice can accumulate painfully between the pads.
2. Dog Paw Balm
You can buy commercial protecting balm from most pet stores that will protect the paws against frostbite or drying. This should be non-toxic – but even so, excessive licking might make your dog nauseous or give them diarrhea. Apply the balm before you go on a walk, then wash off with warm water and dry carefully when you come back in.
If you’re taking your guy or gal out in cold damp weather, Vaseline will work perfectly well to give their feet that extra protection. Don’t let them walk on slick tile or ice with Vaseline applied though, as they could slip and fall.
Even more so than other foot products, wipe off Vaseline after you get home from your walk. Huskies are incessant groomers – they’re even more likely than other breeds to lick their feet for hours on end, and they won’t enjoy a mouthful of Vaseline.
4. Pet-Friendly Ice Melt Products
You can buy commercial ice-melting products that de-ice your property without damaging your dog’s paws. This is fine for your own garden and sidewalk, but of course not everyone in the neighbourhood will be using it.
If you live in a very dog-friendly neighbourhood, you might be able to start some kind of awareness drive to promote pet-friendly ice melters – it’s worth a try for doggy paw health!
5. Doggy Boots
Dog boots or booties are an extremely effective way to protect your fuzzy kid’s feet – especially if you live in a harsh climate, or like to take lots of walks and hikes in rough terrain. Dog boots are sock-like devices with Velcro straps to keep them in place. Some have non-slip soles to give extra traction. They give tip-top protection to your dog’s feet by keeping them dry and free of injury, and they prevent exposure to salt and de-icing chemicals.
The boots should fit snugly but not so tightly that they constrict the paws. Measure all four of your dog’s paws by tracing them on paper, then check with the supplier to make sure you purchase the right size.
Huskies are notorious for not liking the booties at first – in fact, they’re hilarious!
It’s best to put them on your guy or gal for short periods of time inside the house to acclimatize them, before taking them out for a long walk. You can slowly increase the length of wearing time over a week or two, offering lots of encouragement and treats to help them accept their fashionable footwear.
Your dog should always be supervised when they’re wearing boots – they might be distracted at first, and do things out of character like walk into something they shouldn’t. And don’t put the boots on if your dog’s paws and ankles are wet or injured.
Dog boots are great for very hot temperatures as well as cold. Remember that if the ground is too hot for you to rest your hand on, it’s probably too hot for your dog to walk on for any length of time with bare paws.
Dog boots are not a necessity for your Husky – if you’re worried about the fit and comfort, rather just take your boy or gal out walking au naturel, for shorter periods of time in harsh conditions.
Most important tip of all – make sure you inspect your dog’s paws regularly, and treat any abrasions or other issues. Point out any anomalies when you go for vet checkups – the vet might be able to spot and treat small issues before they become big problems.
The Bottom Line
With a combination of great care, good grooming and cool commercial products (if needed), your Husky will have th