Winter can be ruff...but your dog's paws don't have to be!

Winter appears to have arrived and with it, dry itchy skin for humans and cracked paws for our pups!

Black Dog & Company has collaborated with Courtney Kroonen from Sunshine Lane Boarding & Grooming on this blog post to bring you the following helpful tips to protect your dog’s paws this winter.

1. Booties. Classic. Cue up the funny videos of dogs everywhere slapping their paws around trying to figure out how to walk in new booties. They take some getting used to for both humans and dogs however, with patience and finding properly fitting dog booties these can be a lifesaver. After you have found a proper fit bootie for your dog I recommend interval training in the house. Booties on for 5 minutes, then off. Increase the time to 10 minutes on, followed by 15 minutes on...I think you get the idea. While your dog is wearing the boots play games, distract with trick training and plenty of treats and praise! Later, work up to heading out for a walk with booties on, distracting with a change of pace, walking on uneven ground and again - treats and praise!

2. Alternatively, if your dog isn’t digging booties invisible boot cream by 100% Natural for Pets is a great option. I used this product a lot when I lived in Toronto with my chocolate labrador. It's a non-toxic cream that acts as a shield to protect paw pads from the salt, ice, and snow. With ingredients like Soybean Oil, Cornstarch, Cottonseed Oil, Beeswax, Tea-Tree Oil and Benzoin it is completely natural and safe if your dog licks at the cream. 100% Natural for Pets acts as a moisturizer for chapped and cracked paw pads. Just apply to your dog's paws before going outside and wipe clean when you get back indoors!

3. Treat your dog to a pawdicure! Trim the hair between the pads and around the feet to minimize ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals on their feet. Some dogs have hair that grows long between their pads and when it gets too long, it collects snow and ice that can dig into their pads. Inspect your dog's feet when they come in from outside. You can clean their paws with warm water to remove any chemicals that may be on their feet. This is also a great time to check if there are any cracks or scrapes on their pads or between the toes. If they are cracked or chapped from the cold weather and snow, you can apply Vermont’s Bag Balm, or a dog-approved cream (like the product suggested above) to help soothe the irritation.

Lastly, always keep those nails trimmed! Nails that are too long can cause splayed feet. Not only do dogs have less traction on their feet with long nails, but your dog can collect more snow and ice between their toes when they walk, as their toes spread further apart when nails aren’t trimmed.

While winter paw maintenance is essential, if you are a homeowner, we encourage you to use pet-friendly ice melter. Avoid ice melters with sodium chloride and calcium chloride. Accidental exposure to these substances could occur if your dog ingests ice melt through licking their paws or eating snow that contains ice melt in it. An easy, extra precautionary measure is to wipe your dog's paws and legs after you return indoors.

During extreme cold remember to bundle your pup up and keep the walks numerous but short and sweet.

Does your dog love winter?

Comment below with some of your favourite winter activities or places to visit with your dog!

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