They may not feel very soft when pawing at your leg, but a dog’s paws may become more sensitive and softer during the winter season–especially if they’ve been kept inside more often.
Every change in season, weather, activity, and terrain presents a new challenge for dog paws. Tough as they may seem, a dog’s pads can crack, peel, or tear on the first good run or hike of the season. Here’s some tips for getting paws trail-ready.
Toughening up barefoot paws
- Start with short, slow walks on grass or groomed surfaces and work your way up to longer, faster walks on tougher terrain over the course of a few weeks.
- Keep paws moisturized with paw wax, petroleum jelly, or other pet-safe moisturizers to help prevent cracking.
- Remember that new climates and terrain require conditioning to get the pads used to the new dust/dirt/rock.
- Check for swollen, cracked, or damaged paws often. Check your dog’s gait and look for any signs of discomfort.
Breaking in paws for dog boots
- If you opt for dog boots, increase their flexibility prior to using by working the sole in the palm of your hands.
- Once the boots are on, your dog will most likely “dance”. Don’t be alarmed—this is a natural reaction. To enhance their experience with the boots, try these tips for avoiding the dog boot dance.
- Start by putting the boots on in the house for a couple minutes, then try short adventures outside; gradually increasing the time spent in the boots.
- Check often for rubbing and hotspots, readjusting the fit if necessary.
- Boot liners can be a good solution to enhance the overall comfort and fit of dog boots just like socks help make human shoes more comfortable.