When we think about our pets, oftentimes we think of them as parts of the family. As family members, we want to protect them in any way possible. With winter weather here, let’s talk about paw protection. There are several methods and reasons for protecting our furry friends’ paws. Whether it’s to protect them from the hot pavement, sand, snow/ice, or because your pet has an injury to its paw, it’s important to know the different options available to you. 

The first option most commonly thought of is booties. Booties serve their purpose, but many dogs dislike them. There are many different types and styles, but booties are essentially a boot or sock that goes over your dog’s entire paw and are often secured by a velcro strap. Your pet will probably walk funny the first time you put them on—the internet is full of videos! Rewarding and conditioning your pet to get used to wearing them is important. Booties can protect your dog’s paws from the heat of the pavement and the cold of the snow or ice.

If your pet has an injury like a cut to the paw, booties can be great to stop your pet from licking at the wound, which causes more irritation, or they can even lick off the medication or ointment. It is important to remember to only use booties on clean paws and to wipe off your pet’s paws after removing them. You do not want any dirt or debris on the paws when using booties, as it can cause irritation and/or pain and discomfort. It’s like us walking around with a pebble in our shoe; it’s uncomfortable! 

Another form of paw protection is paw wax. Paw wax is applied to your pet’s paw pads and forms a barrier between your pet’s paws and the hot or icy pavement or sand. There are a lot of paw waxes or balms out there, but my personal favorite paw wax is Musher’s Secret. It is a blend of natural waxes and moisturizers (white and yellow beeswax, carnauba, and candelilla wax and white and vegetable oils with vitamin E). 

Many dog owners prefer paw wax because their pets are more comfortable without booties on their feet. I have personally found that Musher’s Secret can also help keep the paw pads moisturized and prevent dry, cracked pads. This helps prevent your pet from having sensitive pads. 

Regardless of which method you choose to protect your pet’s paws, it is very important to remember to keep them clean. Keeping a towel on hand for this is a great idea. In the warmer months, sand, dirt, or mud can build up on your pet’s paws and become irritating. In the colder months, ice, snow, and even the ice melt used on the pavement can damage our pet’s paws. 

Remember to clean your dog’s paws after every walk and dry them well after every bath. Keeping nails trimmed will also help keep your pet comfortable. If your pet has long hair on his or her paws, consider trimming it to prevent build-up of debris or matts from forming. 

As always, this is general advice; if your pet has redness, swelling, or an injury to their paws, contact your veterinarian.