We share our modern lives with special animals whose ancestors successfully adapted over the course of hundreds – if not thousands – of years. Sure, our pets are now highly accustomed to regular meals, affection, and comfort, but that doesn’t mean they don’t often answer to some of their inherited instincts.

With winter paw care, you can make sure your pet’s impulses get in the way of their comfort.

Tough Toenails?

It’s easy to assume that your pet’s feet have evolved to withstand loads of environmental challenges. And that’s true, to a point. Sure, their paw pads are designed to handle daily action, such as running, walking, playing and hiking. But the seasonal dip in outdoor temperatures means that overworked, unprotected paws can be at risk of serious, painful injuries.

When It Starts to Hurt

Alabama may not have the most extreme winter weather, but your pet’s skin can still  experience seasonal dryness, cracking, bleeding, and exposure to toxic winter chemicals like antifreeze.

Where to Start

An initial approach winter paw care should include grooming. Take a look at the underside of their feet. If they have overgrown hairs poking out and around their pads, it’s time for a little trim. Because dry, overgrown nails can become dry and brittle, the nails should be trimmed to reduce the risk of breaking or tearing.

Grooming gets your pet accustomed to lots of extra foot attention. But keeping their feet clean and tidy, creates fewer opportunities for ice, ice melt, salt products snow and other threats from causing problems to the paws.

Booties and Winter Paw Care

Protecting your pet from the weather may be easy with boots or booties, if tolerated. Even temporary exposure to ice, frozen pavement, and snow can cause dryness, cracking and possible bleeding paw pads.

Another Approach

Some pet owners find that applying a pet-safe wax product (such as Musher’s Secret) creates a safe barrier between their pet’s paws and the elements. Keep in mind that these can be used as a part of your summer pet safety approach, too.

When your pet enters the house, try to wash their feet. They may not like it at first, but a quick footbath in clean, lukewarm water, followed by a brisk towel-dry, can make all the difference. You certainly don’t want them to lick off any toxic ice-melt or rock salt off their feet!

Apply more balm to the paw pads afterwards to prevent cracks.

Other Things to Look Out For

We encourage you to check your pet’s feet every day as a part of their winter paw care routine. Also, be mindful that outdoor surfaces (and those inside the home, too) can be extra slippery this time of year. Muscle strains, sprains, torn ligaments, and broken bones are common winter emergencies.

When planning your winter paw care routine, please keep in mind that several underlying health conditions can affect the paws. Autoimmune disorders, allergies, endocrine issues, nutritional deficiencies and more can make your winter paw care routine more difficult. Please let us know if your pet’s paws aren’t healing well.

To support the health of your pet’s paws, we are always here for you at Town & Country Animal Hospital.