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Some breeds of dogs can handle the cold better than others, but if you think it's cold outside, your dog probably does too.

Whether or not your dog enjoys the cold and snow, he or she can benefit from special equipment and precautions when it's cold.

What are the risks to your dog's paws?

Snow and cold weather can present risks for your dog's paws:

1/ Dryness, chapping and cracking

Cold temperatures and dry air can dry out paw pads. This can lead to painful irritations or burns for your dog, which can lead to sores or infections, especially if he licks or chews his paws.

2/ Paw injuries

Walking on salt crystals, stones or other sharp objects that may be hidden under the snow can cause cuts and be very painful. And just like humans, our four-legged friends can suffer frostbite if they get too cold.

3/ Poisoning

If your dog licks his paws after going outside, he may suffer from stomach pains due to the presence of toxic antifreeze or de-icing salt.

4/ Slips and falls

Some dogs suffering from diseases that attack the bones may have more difficulty on slippery surfaces. A fall could lead to injuries or trauma to the joints.

How to avoid these risks?

Fortunately, a few smart precautions can help you avoid mishaps and prevent winter-related health problems.

Here are some tips to protect your dog's paws:

1/ Keep your dog's paws hydrated

Coat your dog's paws with paw balm before going for a winter walk. The moisturizing balm acts as a barrier to keep ice and harmful chemicals from getting between the pads.

You can also use the balm after walks to soothe and moisturize your dog's paws. Just be sure to remove any ice, salt or chemicals first.
2/ Wash your dog's paws after walks

To properly wash your dog's paws, immerse them in a shallow bowl of warm water, then dry them with a towel. This will remove ice, salt, chemicals and any other buildup his paws may have been exposed to. The house floor will thank you too!

3/ Avoid de-icing agents

If you are responsible for de-icing outside your home, be sure to use pet-safe de-icers and encourage your neighbors to do the same. If not, avoid very slippery or salty areas while walking. It's also a good idea to avoid long walks during the winter, especially if your dog is elderly or has joint problems.

Keeping his nails and hair well groomed will keep his feet more stable, make it easier to clean his paws and reduce the risk of iceballs forming between his toes.

4/ Buy dog boots or slippers

Shoes can do a great job of protecting your dog's paws from salt, chemicals, ice and other winter hazards. If you're not sure which ones to choose, look for non-slip ones! They will prevent falls and keep your dog's toes dry.

It's important to choose the right size, so that the shoes are tight enough to stay on, but not so tight that they interfere with circulation. Your dog may need a little time to get used to the shoes, so start by putting them on for a few minutes only, and offer treats if he keeps them on.

5/ Keep an eye on your dog's paws

Check the pads and spaces between the toes for redness, cracks, wounds, discoloration or other signs of concern. Also notice if your dog seems to lick or bite his paws often. This may be a sign that something is wrong with your dog's paw pads.

By following these paw protection tips, your dog will be comfortable all winter long and you can enjoy the wonders of the season together in safety.

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