Dear Jeni: How do I protect my dog's paws in the winter?

I find that my dog’s paws can get very sensitive in the winter months, especially in the snow and icy weather. I’ve noticed some cracks and irritation on her pads after our walks. What can I do to keep my dogs paws safe from the cold? 

Cold and wet weather can take its toll on your dog’s paws. One of the main contributors to damaged pads is ice melting products used on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. It’s best to try to keep them on the grass or snow whenever possible. Another common cause of sore paws during the cold winter months is the ice balls that can form between the toes of hairy dogs. Bag Balm, a product available at nearly every pharmacy, applied in a thin layer daily or every other day should help keep your dog’s paws from cracking and bleeding. There are many products designed to protect dog paw pads during the winter month, from pet safe deicing products to protective waxes and dog booties. Safe Paw is a common pet-friendly deicer, but sand, small stones, and kitty litter (non-clumping) are also options for deicing while protecting your dog’s pads from injury and chemical burns. Musher’s Secret is one of the most popular paw waxes. Paw wax is applied to the pads of the feet before a walk, forming a protective barrier between the paw and the salty sidewalk or pavement. Paw wax will wear away after extended exercise, and should be reapplied before each walk. 

- Jeni (aka The Doglady)