Its good to be prepared. And yes, after the extended warm weather, we may not have been as prepped for the Blizzard of 2016!
Here’s a rule of thumb when it comes to weather: If you’re hot, your dog is hot. If you’re cold, your dog is cold. If you’re avoiding ice and salt, your dog should be too.
The pads of a dog’s feet help maintain an internal heating system. Oxygenated blood flows to the pads, and when in contact with the cold, it transfers heat to the exposed skin. This keeps your pup’s feet warm. But that makes taking care of them even more important! When salt hits the skin and gets between toes your pup’s pads can be hurt, and if you’ve ever seen a dog walking on icy salt you know it’s not pleasant. An easy remedy to this is the wonderful rubber dog booties found at most pet stores!
But some dogs don’t like the boots. They could be too tight. Or they fall off while walking, and that defeats the purpose of putting them on in the first place. Maybe your dog is allergic to latex. There are a number of reasons to consider alternatives to rubber dog booties this winter, and finding the right protection can mean a happier and healthier season! Here are some easy options:
This one is no secret, and is arguably the go-to when looking for alternative ice and salt protections. Found in most pet stores (perhaps seasonally), the wax is made of natural ingredients and only has to be applied a few times a week depending on how far you and your dog walk. The Musher’s Secret website says that their products can be used for more than just winter weather, and protects your dog’s feet on the hot summer pavement of New York City!
Invisible Boot another cream like Musher’s Secret. I poked around trying to figure out what made it different from Musher’s, but they seem pretty on par with each other: Moisturizing protection, all natural ingredients, and edible so it wont hurt your dog! What I did figure out is that the Invisible Boot brand of wax contains different ingredients, including soybean oil. If ingredients make a difference to you and your pup, go ahead and look them up. But if not, Invisible Boot is another great alternative to to rubber dog booties.
You may be thinking: “How are socks different than the booties?” There are a couple different reasons. First, the socks aren’t rubber, but can be waterproof. Second, they wont pinch your pup’s lovely ankles. But the socks can also come with traction on the bottom. Like the rubber booties, they can add an extra boost of balance while on ice, or a layer between hot surfaces. But my personal favorite part of dog socks is that they are machine washable!
Crisco or Petroleum Jelly
Uhh… Crisco? Petroleum Jelly? Yeah. These house hold items can give your pup protection from ice buildup and salt if you’re in a pinch. Other oils, like coconut, have been listed as home remedies for paw-protection, too. The problem here is that your dog may be more inclined to lick his/her paws before you even get outside! But another potential problem with using oils or petroleum jelly is that, over time, your pup’s pads could get soft and prone to injury. Using Crisco or Vaseline should be used sparingly, just in case.
Dog Safe Snow Melter, Sand, or Cat Litter
Take it a step further and make your block safe for the neighborhood dogs! If you have control over which snow and ice melter is spread on your sidewalk, go ahead and find one that wont hurt a dog’s pads. There are quite a few available, but some can be toxic if eaten. If you are worried about toxicity, a few basic remedies are sand or cat little. These wont melt the snow and ice, but they will give everyone a solid footing, and wont hurt a dog’s feet. If you live in a building, ask the staff what steps you could take to replace salt with a safe brand. Or, take initiative and buy the building some for future use.
The best part about winter is enjoying the snow! If your pup is weary of rubber booties, maybe you can find a better solution to help in the winter wonderland . But, whatever you use on your dog’s feet, it’s still important to clean them up after a walk. Snow buildup, salt or chemical residue can cause serious medical issues. Even with rubber booties! Check regularly for redness, irritation, and sores.