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10 Tips to Keep Your Dog's Paws Safe Year-Round
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10 Tips to Keep Your Dog's Paws Safe Year-Round

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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Taking long walks with your canine companion is one of the best experiences for pet owners. However, those adventures may come at a cost to their paws. From summer mud puddles to winter snow drifts, your dog's paw pads endure a lot of wear and tear when exploring nature or bumming around town. That's why all pet parents need to protect their pup's feet from dangerous elements.

1

Get your dog comfortable with paw touching

Teaching a puppy to give a paw. nortonrsx/ Getty Images

Pet owners know the importance of strong bonds with their dogs, but those connections don't always include paw touching. Training to enjoy — or at least tolerate — being touched on the paws is essential for any medical procedures that might arise in an emergency. Why not start building a trusting relationship early with soothing massages and gentle rubs?

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2

Examine paws after walks

Happy man training with his dog at the park asking him to give his paw andresr/ Getty Images

Warm-weather hikes can be fun for you and your dog, but watching for rough terrain or sharp objects that could put your dog in danger is essential. It's always wise to watch where they walk, but unseen obstacles, such as glass shards or thorns, can still puncture their paw pads. If the object is deeply embedded, a vet may need to sedate them before removing it safely. If bleeding occurs, apply pressure immediately and call a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.

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3

Keep paws clean and moisturized

 female cleaning her pet dog poodle in public park Edwin Tan/ Getty Images

Keeping your pet's paw pads healthy is essential for overall well-being, but it can be complicated with dirt and debris collected on walks or in the yard. Regularly wiping away grime after walks with a damp cloth or pet-safe wipes will help keep paws clean and moisturized. Additionally, you may want to invest in a specially designed paw balm containing natural ingredients, such as shea butter or sunflower seed oil. This is important during winter when snow and ice can worsen dryness on already cracked paws.

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4

Use booties for extreme terrain

One large Bernese Mountain dog stands on a sunny day on the gray asphalt in special shoes for dogs K R E M/ Getty Images

Sometimes the terrain you're walking on is too harsh for your dog's feet. Hot sand, rocky trails, or icy pavements are the worst. In these situations, it's best to use dog booties. They provide extra protection and support while walking under challenging conditions and keep your pup's paws safe and sound.

Booties are also effective at preventing injuries. Just make sure you choose the right size for your dog. Keep in mind that booties aren't always necessary — special paw balms form a protective barrier against the elements and prevent snow from packing between their toes.

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5

Track temperature and time spent outside

Dog Drinking Water From Plastic Bottle. Pet Owner Takes Care Of His Labrador During Hot Sunny Day. Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Be aware of temperature changes to ensure your pup's paws are protected. Like humans, extreme temperatures can be uncomfortable and even dangerous to dogs. If it's too hot or cold for you, it's not suitable for your dog.

In addition, make sure your dog isn't outside for extended periods during the hot summer or cold winter months. Their seemingly boundless energy shouldn't lull you into a false sense of security. Dogs should always take regular indoor breaks to benefit from cool air or warmth.

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6

Watch out for ice patches

Man is playing with his yellow labrador retriever in winter landscape Chalabala/ Getty Images

Winter walks with your pup can be a beautiful experience if you're aware of possible hazards. Ice patches can become hidden under snow and should not be underestimated — even the most agile dog may slip or slide. If you spot icy areas, it's best to give them a wide berth until they thaw out naturally. You can also use a mat on your steps or porch for extra protection. Stay vigilant and keep an open eye while outside, so nothing stands between your dog and wintry fun.

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7

Be careful around deicing agents and floor cleaners

Woman dressing dog booties or shoes at the dog paws, protection and shelter at winter season miriam-doerr/ Getty Images

Keeping your dog safe on winter walks is essential. Be mindful of slushy and salty areas, as common deicing agents like calcium chloride and sodium chloride can harm them. In addition, make sure that whatever chemicals you use on floors are pet-safe. Otherwise, those wet feet will absorb the harsh substances directly from the floor, or worse — they might lick off anything remaining after their strolls.

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8

Be cautious of hot asphalt

Dog and his owner in park, sitting on road. Background out of focus. HD91239130/ Getty Images

Extra caution is essential when taking your dog outdoors as the summer heat rises. You can quickly check their safety with a simple 7-second test. Place the back of your hand on any pavement, and if you start feeling uncomfortable within those seven seconds, the surface is too hot for paw pads. Walking barefoot on the surface is another test. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog.

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9

Keep your dog's paws trimmed and mat-free

female pet groomer using animal brush to clean up and grooming a poodle Edwin Tan/ Getty Images

Keeping your dog's paws in tip-top condition doesn't just mean the occasional paw rub. Depending on the breed of dog and length of fur, trimming the hair between pads can give your dog an extra grip on slippery surfaces. Trimming also prevents long-term issues such as fur matting and hot spots. You should also inspect the area and remove ice that may have built up during snowy weather.

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10

Apply first aid for injured paws

Veterinarian bandaging a paw of a dog lying on the table at the veterinary clinic bluecinema/ Getty Images

If your dog's paws have been exposed to a dangerous surface, it's crucial to contact a vet at once. In the meantime, provide some much-needed relief: Gently bathe their affected paws in lukewarm (not cold) water, and wrap each paw in bandages or cover them with clean socks. Don't use ice — it can lead to further tissue damage. Ask your vet for the best ways to keep your dog comfortable until your appointment.

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