With owners becoming more aware of the potential hazards of the cold weather on their pets paws, a new debate has opened: to use dog shoes or not?
There are some very obvious drawbacks to sheathing a dog’s paws in anything: most dogs are not used to having anything on their feet and they have a distinct dislike of the feeling. Most dogs (as is evidenced by hundreds of Youtube videos) suddenly forget how to walk when wearing shoes and end up looking like a crazy marionette is pulling the strings. That in itself defeats the purpose of going out. How can any dog focus on potty-time when his legs are flying off to the sides of him seemingly out of his control?
But then there are the dogs that can prance through all sorts of weather wearing the height of K9 footwear and not seem to care. This usually comes down to getting the dog used to the shoes way before it is actually necessary for them to be worn.
But there is another way. The puppy boots are meant to protect the animal’s paws from cold, harsh salts used to melt ice, slipping on the ice, and getting snow caught between their toes. If it is impossible or improbable that a pet will tolerate boots or any kind of shoe on their feet, here are some alternatives that will keep the pup’s paws in tip-top shape.
• There are products on the market that are wax or petroleum based. These are used to spread on the paw pads right before the walk begins. These salves act as a barrier between the ground and the dog’s paws, protecting them from cold (or heat, depending on the season). These particular products have to be wiped off as soon as the walk is over because of the debris or salt that could have accumulated during the walk, and some of the products are not safe for consumption (meaning an animal may get sick after licking their paws).
• There has been some question as to whether dogs can be intolerant of lanolin, a fatty substance made from lamb’s wool and used as a base in many salves. If an issue does exist, it is a small percentage and would not affect many dogs.
• Certain breeds have longer hair between their toes than others. With a quick and easy snip, an owner or a groomer can shorten these toe hairs. This will prevent snow and ice from getting caught between the paw pads and toes and forming ice chunks that can be very uncomfortable to the animals. Again, wiping the paws after walks with acid-free baby wipes will also clean out debris and the sometimes toxic chemicals used to melt ice on sidewalks and streets.
• Another option is as simple as shortening the walks, or taking shorter walks more frequently. There are also doggy daycares, much like child daycares, that will take the pet for some time. These are great options for already socialized dogs that have a lot of energy to expend no matter what the weather is like outside.
After the walk, it is important for owners to wipe their pets’ paws to get any ice chunks or salt from between the toes. It is also important to dry the feet thoroughly. To prevent cracking, dryness, or to help heal existing splits in the skin of the paw pads and owner can use Mad About Organic Healing Salve. This salve is described on their website as an ‘all-natural Neosporin,’ and works to soothe and heal. It is also completely safe for the animals to lick off and digest.
While using actual booties for a pet has its downsides, and may not be for every pet and owner, it is important for pet owners to keep their precious pets’ paws clean, moisturized, and warm.