Winter Dog Balm: Protection Against Dry Dog Paws In Winter
No other time of year takes its toll on your dog's paws like the harsh cold months of winter. Whether it's the cold environment, snowy & icy ground, exposure to chemical de-icers and salt or rocks and grit, winter can be a brutal time for your dog - they may be excited when it's time to go for a walk but make no mistake, there are very real dangers lurking at this time of year!
Don't get us wrong, snow is heaven for an excitable dog - new environments and sensations are exciting - running around, jumping through snow, sliding on ice and biting at snow as it falls is a total blast... but to make sure your dog truly has the best time possible you need to protect your dog's paws from winter. It's easy if you start early and use the best products possible - like Soft Paws winter dog paw balm.
Keeping on top of protecting your dog's paws in winter is easier if you start early and use your winter dog paw balm in the months leading up to the cold weather to give them a protective head start.
As you can see from the picture below - if you're not protecting paws, they can easily become dry, cracked, damaged and seriously painful - open cracks can also lead to infection and serious health problems!
For the best winter dog paw protection - start as early as you can...
As autumn approaches - think about starting to regularly apply your dog paw protection. If you've never used a paw balm before then you need to make sure you moisturise, nourish and protect the paws to get them as healthy as they can be so they're not open to getting worse as the weather turns colder.
Using Soft Paws winter dog paw balm couldn't be easier - simply rub gently with your fingers until it starts to soften and apply liberally to the pad - gently massage in, we often find that distractions are key to this so try after your dog has eaten and use their favourite toy to keep them occupied so you can work it into the skin.
Don't panic if you can't work it in - the oils and butters in Soft Paws are specially chosen because they quickly absorb deep into the pads anyway - the beeswax base starts to firm-up as soon as it's applied and this creates a lick-safe barrier for the oils so it's no problem if your pooch does try and get at it!
Regularly applying your winter dog paw balm...
If starting your winter dog paw protection early is important, then the key to maximising the benefits of the balm is regularly applying it!
We've always advised that you base the application on the condition of your dog's pads and how active you are - if they're in a pretty bad way, use more... if they're looking alright, use it less frequently.
If you lead a fairly active life with your dog, use the appropriate amount of paw balm to protect the paws - after every other walk is a great benchmark!
Our handy guide based on your dog's paw condition would be:
Dry, Damaged & Cracked Dog Paws - Apply at least 2-3 times per day (usually best after exercise or eating to avoid licks)
Dry Dog Paws - Apply 1-2 times per day (morning & evening - after walks)
'Normal' Dog Paws - Apply 2-3 times per week to maintain soft, smooth & healthy paws
By following these simple steps, you can give your dog the best possible chance of being comfortable in winter. This means that when the cold months do come around, your dog has healthy paws which don't run the risk of becoming as easily dry, cracked or damaged.
Ready to get the best winter protection for your dog's paws? Use Soft Paws paw balm from MyPamperedPup!
Why your dog needs winter dog paw protection...
OK, so we've talked a lot about how winter can take its toll on your dog's paws but I bet you're wondering "what exactly is the danger?".
When it comes to winter we break down the things that can affect your dog into four easy-to-remember categories:
- The Cold, Ice and Snow
- Chemical De-Icers
- Road Salt
- Grit and Trauma
1. The Cold, Ice and Snow: how they affect dog paws during winter:
Perhaps the most common cause of injury for your dog during the winter months is the cold itself - 'frostbite' is the name given to the damaged caused to the skin when exposed to the extreme cold.
When exposed to the cold the veins in the skin become narrower to prevent losing heat - what this means is that those areas get less blood pumped to them. Frostbite is basically a combination of the body not pumping blood to the area to lose heat, so they become so cold that the skin tissues and cells freeze, causing irreparable damage if the exposure is long enough.
As a dog owner, it's important to monitor how long you're out in the cold for with your pup - frostbite can set in after only 30 minutes when exposed directly to the cold but it depends on a number of factors so there are no hard and fast rules for preventing it, other than being vigilant!
One thing you can do to help prevent the damage associated with the cold & frostbite is ensuring your dog is well groomed:
Clipping your dog's nails...
This is important as longer nails force your dog to spread their toes as they walk - this means a larger surface area of the paw is exposed to the cold which allows the sweat to freeze and ice and snow builds up between the toes this is really uncomfortable and could lead to trauma - imagine walking around with marbles pressed between and underneath your toes and feet! Oooooch!
Trimming paw fur...
You should trim your dog's paw hair so that it's level with pads themselves. Keeping paw hair in check means a reduced risk of ice balls forming between the toes. Just by following good grooming you can ensure a more comfortable winter for your dog. As they walk, water & slush gets trapped in long fur and re-freezes forming ice balls on the feet - discomfort and frostbite are a very real risk when this happens!
Regularly using a protective winter paw balm...
The secret to maintaining healthy dog paws during winter is without a doubt regularly applying a protective winter dog paw barrier wax balm like Soft Paws. The active, healing ingredients work in two amazing ways; firstly it heals any damage already caused to paws, secondly, it protects the skin of the paw from external damage from the cold winter environment.
As you can see from the picture below, when applied Soft Paws winter paw balm gets to work straight away to nourish and moisturise dry, cracked and damaged dog paws.
Dog paw pad ice burns...
Aside from good and proper grooming, it's important to constantly monitor your dog's paw pads before, during & after walks. Exposure to the cold winter ground can take its toll on the skin of the paw pads and cause painful ice burns. Before during and after each walk, it's important to check the paws for any signs that they might be getting ice burns of frostbite - this is fairly easy and quick to do and can make a serious difference to their comfort & health.
Signs of winter cold damage on your dog's paws...
When checking and inspecting your dog's paws during winter, there are a few signs to look out for that can be sure-fire signs of cold weather damage:
- Check out the colour of the area - if the skin looks like it's paler than usual, or blue or grey, this could be a sign of damage
- Touch the paw pads gently - do they feel cold? If they do then be sure to treat by taking the dog inside to warm up
- Is the area swollen? Does it look like it's sore, red or inflamed?
- When you touch the pads, does the dog express pain or discomfort?
- Is there any visible damage? Are they blisters or ulcers on the skin?
2. Chemical de-icers: how they can damage your dog's paws...
Less common than the damage caused by the cold itself is the chemical de-icers we use to clear ice and snow from our cars and property. As we use de-icers throughout the winter they end up covering the ground on roads, pavements and driveways - when your dog walks on ground contaminated with de-icing chemicals they linger on the hair and is absorbed by the skin.
These chemicals are incredibly harmful and cause irritation and skin burns to the paws themselves - what's more harmful is that these chemicals are also seriously toxic! If they are irritating the paw pads, chances are your dog will lick them to soothe the irritation, in doing this they're ingesting the toxic de-icing chemicals.
Minimising the risk of de-icer to your dog:
There are several ways to minimise the risk of de-icing chemicals to your dog and things you can do to keep your pooch safe during winter:
- On your own driveway, stay away from using chemical de-icers and use an ice scraper or warm water instead. If you do have to use chemical de-icers, try to flush your driveway with warm, clean water once/twice a week to remove any residues which may be lurking on the ground.
- When out walking with your dog, try to avoid driveways and pavements as much as possible - walking on the grass is much better!
- After a walk, gently wash paws with warm water to remove any lingering chemicals.
- Following a good wash, liberally apply Soft Paws winter dog paw balm to lock-in moisture, deeply heal and protect paws from the harsh winter environment.
3. The dangers of winter road salt: how it can damage your dog's paws...
Road salt and grit is a common sight during the freezing winter. Little do most people know the seemingly helpful salt used to clear road and pavements during winter is actually seriously dangerous and harmful to your pooch! Contact with the salt on paws causes irritation and the potential for licks can cause poisoning!
Road salt is everywhere during the cold winter months and it attacks your dog in numerous ways:
- Firstly, road salt is sharp. As your dog's delicate paws walk across it the rough, sharp edges can easily cut into the pads - the salt particles are crystals so they naturally have pointy, sharp corners and rough edges.
- Secondly, prolonged contact exposure to road salt can cause irritation, dryness and chemical burns to the delicate skin of the paws.
- Thirdly, if your dog ingests the road salt - commonly through licking irritated paws, then this can deadly!
Irritating winter road salt on your dog's paws...
During winter the sheer abundance of salt & grit covering the roads really takes its toll; the salty solution draws moisture out of the paws which leads to seriously dry skin, irritation, cracks and damage. What's more, as the damage starts to take its toll and the pads do start to crack, the salty solutions gets inside them which is extremely painful!
The key to minimising the risk of winter salt damage is to be diligent with your dog's paws during winter - this means wiping and washing them carefully following each walk to ensure there's not salty residue remaining when you're back inside. You should also keep an eye on your dogs walking to see if they're limping, showing signs of discomfort or avoiding putting weight on a particular pad.
When you're back home and you've carefully cleaned and checked the paws for signs of damage or irritation, it's always best to liberally apply our healing paw balm Soft Paws to deeply nourish and replenish moisture lost from the cold weather and salty ground.
Preventing winter salt damage with Soft Paws dog paw balm
The main cause of contact damage from de-icing ground salt in winter is irritation and dryness, followed by prolonged exposure and burns. A sure-fire way to ensure your dog's paws are protected is by regularly using a high-quality paw balm.
Our Soft Paws paw balm protects from the harsh winter ground salt in several great ways:
- The careful blend of oils & butters has been chosen to penetrate deeply into the paw pads - restoring moisture lost from contact with ground salts.
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and boosts the production of natural collagen which allows skin cell regeneration - great for paws that have been exposed to the elements and need a helping healing hand!
- Natural Jojoba oil is a natural bacteria & fungus killing moisturiser, gives a boost to the skin's sebum and is rich in naturally occurring minerals - deeply healing for both harsh winter months.
- The protective beeswax base creates a barrier from the outside world (including curious licks!) and locks-in the healing, moisturising properties of the paw balm. The beeswax barrier is especially important as it helps to prevent the salty water remaining in contact with paw pads - as it's a natural wax it's amazing at repelling water - but locking-in the moisture within the paws.
The dangers of poisoning from winter de-icing salt!
Not only can de-icing ground salt be irritating and damaging to your dog's paws, but accidental ingestion can also be deadly!
Most of the time, ingestion usually occurs because your dog licks their paws due to irritation from the salt water - if you're not careful and don't wash and wipe the paws after a walk, before sealing and protecting your dog's paws with Soft Paws winter paw balm, then ingestion can easily happen.
De-icing ground salt used to clear road and pavements often contains toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury & ferrocyanide. These chemicals are within the road salt which dissolves into the groundwater that your dog walks on - this then clings to paw hair and is absorbed into the paw pads.
The key to ensuring your dog doesn't run the risk of salt poisoning, it's vital to carefully wash and wipe each of paw pads to remove any remaining residue. Once you've done this - repair, nourish and protect the paw pad skin with a healing, moisturising paw balm!
Signs & symptoms of salt poisoning in dogs...
If the unthinkable does happen and your dog manages to become exposed to and ingest dangerous de-icing chemicals then it's important to stay calm and watch out for the signs and symptoms of salt poisoning:
- Burns to mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Raw & sore paws
If your dog has any of the symptoms following a period of outdoor activity in an area where you know there's been a lot of de-icing salt on the ground then it's important to contact your vet immediately! These symptoms can lead to severe trauma, seizures a coma and even death if not treated urgently.
4. Grit and trauma: pain & discomfort for your dog's paws...
We've already covered how winter is hard for your dog's paws - salty groundwater, cold frosty ground and sharp, painful grit mean it doesn't take long into the cold winter months for your dog to be suffering from the effects of painful, uncomfortable paw pads - the drying effects of the winter environment lead the skin open to cracking.
Cracked paws are not only painful, if left untreated they leave your dog open to infection and potentially more serious health problems. Cracked paws are much more common during winter because of the harsh environment so checking to make sure your dog has tip-top paws is essential! Not only this, you should also use the best paw balm, Soft Paws from MyPamperedPup!
Keep paws healthy and protected in winter with Soft Paws winter paw balm...
The best way to keep on top of making sure your dog's paws are healthy, moisturised and protected during winter is by ensuring you have a daily and weekly routine aimed at making sure paws are inspected and treated and a daily application of paw balm to nourish paws and replenish lost moisture.