Do Dogs Need Boots in Winter?by Chris Miksen
Chunks of snow are nothing but freeloaders, hitching a free ride between your pup's paws.
When the skies turn gray and snow clings to the trees, your pup knows that it's time to get frisky in the winter wonderland. That friskiness may be short-lived if snow, ice and deicers team up to hurt her little paws. Lucky for her, doggy boots can protect her feet.
With winter comes snow and ice, and until heated sidewalks and roads become commonplace, the wintry elements signal the arrival of deicers. Although deicers help melt away patches of ice to make walking and driving safer, it's bad news when it comes to your pup's health. Deicers can be toxic if your pup eats it and it can irritate her little paw pads, especially if they're dry and cracked. Canine-safe deicers do exist, but it only helps if your pup wanders around on your property and not the city sidewalks and streets. A pair of boots keeps the nasty deicers away so her internal and external parts will be safe.
Snow Between Toes
All the snow and ice your pup runs through when she darts out into the winter wonderland doesn't melt away from her body. It clumps up around her paws and between her toes. Imagine having hardened snow and ice between your fingers -- it would irritate your skin in a hurry. Your dog suffers similarly and may try to remove the packed snow by gnawing on it, exacerbating the issue and eating potentially toxic deicers. Long-haired canines are more susceptible, but snow can accumulate between the toes of short-haired dogs too, so boots are your best option to prevent the problem.
Although your pup might leap into a pile of powdery snow as if cold is but a figment of her imagination, she isn't immune to bitter temperatures. Some dogs shy away from snow and ice at all costs, tiptoeing around the wintry elements or doing a little dance when venturing outside to potty. If outdoors long enough or if exposed to extreme temperatures, your pup can even develop frostbite. Boots keep her feet relatively warm and are an excellent option if she has a cold sensitivity due to a paw or nail disorder.
Not an Absolute Requirement
While boots are helpful in protecting your pup's paws in winter, they aren't always a necessity. If you don't plan to take your pup for a walk on roads or sidewalks, she typically won't encounter deicers. If you do venture out onto those surfaces, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes that applying a thin film of petroleum jelly to your pup's paws protects against salt. Keeping the fur between her toes trimmed helps with clumps of snow and ice, and you can melt them away with lukewarm water and a rag. If your dog has a nail or paw disorder that causes cold sensitivity, boots are a necessity.
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