Nothing is more wonderful during the Christmas season than going for a walk with your dog, but never as much as when big flakes are falling slowly and softly. I love to see the large wet flakes landing to melt on our pups' head and back. It also brings a smile when we see perfect paw prints in the snow. Dog's paws are a great indicator of their well-being and special care of their paws over the holidays and all through winter is important.
Dog's feet are quite hardy, with a thick layer of fat to help insulate them from the cold, but many dogs will feel pain when snow accumulates in the soft places between the pads. You will see them lift their paws up for assistance and you should do your best to remove the balls of snow to avoid bruising. Not all dogs have this problem. If fur growing between the paw's pads is dense enough they are better equipped. Paw care is also important on really cold winter days as dogs are susceptible to frostbite.
The best way to protect your Dog's tootsie is to prevent it. We recommend using Booties. Begin by putting on each boot gently using lots of treats or rewards. Try not to laugh at your dog, as it first experiences the new feeling of booties. Remember that all their lives they have had a connection between their paws and the ground and it can be disconcerting to have this connection suddenly severed. Ideally, you can make the first time they put on booties as a confidence-building opportunity if you are supportive. Only put them on for short periods at first, gradually increasing the time so your dog is comfortable with them. Select Booties with the right tread for the right terrain to avoid slipping. If the experience is bad for your dog, you likely will have a difficult time putting on the footwear again. The Booties should fit well enough to allow your dog to walk or run easily, but be sure you don't have them on too tight as it can cause another sort of pain. Comfort is critical just like it is for our feet. Booties are also preventative measures for salt-burns for when the walkways are salted to reduce ice.
Start early to allow yourself time to teach your dog to be comfortable with booties and increase the pleasure of holiday walks in the winter for you and your best friend.
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'Sparky' Smith is a Canine Behaviorist and Practioner, educated through the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, earning her ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC.