Why Are Dog Paws So Vulnerable In The Winter?
Being a pet owner is a 365 day a year responsibility, and even as the summer months fade, dog paw protection ought to be at the forefront of your priorities. While things like harsh gravel and blazing hot asphalt are certainly terrains to avoid in warm temperatures, it is actually colder climates that wreak an equal amount of havoc, if not more.
The health of a dog’s pads are one of the most overlooked conditions people make the world over, but a vital component to a canine’s temperament and positive quality of life. But why are paws so vulnerable in the winter?
Snow, Salt, & Ice: A Triple Threat To Avoid
Colder months are terrible on pads because they represent the trifecta as it pertains to adversely affecting your pooch’s way of life. Just because paws are insulated does not mean they are invincible to the elements. A dog’s feet are a blend of connective tissue incorporating skin and fat.
The membranes present allow them to experience hot and cold, and like humans, pain or comfort. Pads are incredibly resilient, but susceptible to problematic conditions nonetheless.
Winter brings forth snow, salt, and ice; a trifecta that is brutal and relentless on your companion’s skin. All three make paw pads softer initially, and then harder over time. This softness is created by moisture from the weather they are coming into contact with. In moderation it is completely fine, but in the beginning their feet will acquiesce in such a way that they will become more prone to injuries. For example, when you step out of the bath or shower, your skin is smooth and cuts much more easily, be it from a razor or accident.
This cut will harden and dry out, increasing the level of pain. The same principle applies directly to dogs as well. Moisture allows paws to be damaged because the pads soften. Eventually this trauma will harden the skin in an attempt to seal the wound. Serious medical conditions can arise from this action taking place, including infection and arthritis.
Though it sounds impossible given how chilly winter is, snow and ice ‘burn’ a dog’s feet. Exposure can be handled by the fat on their pads, but sooner or later the skin will be compromised. As if that weren’t bad enough, the fur on your companion can freeze and become extremely troublesome. When hair is frozen in between the nails and paws, irritation is occurring with each step taken.
As an owner, you know you are dealing with something particularly harmful when bumps and sores are sprouting up on their feet. The result is blood vessels reacting to extreme cold in an abnormal way. This inflammation, known as chilblains, is exceedingly painful, but thankfully avoidable with proper treatment.
Though salt is invaluable in every day life, even in the medical field, this de-icing substance is not kind to cuts it encounters. Sodium chloride is a powerful agent because it can pull bacteria out of liquid quickly by absorbing it. While good in theory, it is a process that is accompanied with indescribable pain. Just like with snow and ice, a dog’s pads resist salt on the ground valiantly, but will ultimately succumb, particularly if irritation is already present.
A Few Warning Signs To Look Out For
For better or worse, dogs are stubborn creatures, and depending on their personality, will sometimes hide how they are really feeling. While their toughness during adversity is admirable, it is harder as a devoted caregiver to know when a situation is becoming dire. Some warning signs of irritation or lesions to look out for include noticeable swelling, blistering, and red patches. Additionally, your dog will frequently alter the way they walk or refuse physical exertion altogether if the inflammation has gotten too uncomfortable.
If your canine’s pads have dried and started cracking, treatment should imminently follow. Remember, open skin on paws invite the spread of bacteria or disease. Moreover, it will cause them to be hypersensitive, increasing the likelihood they will become tender and sore.
If you do not have an appropriate balm on hand for immediate treatment to the aforementioned conditions, cleaning your dog’s paws with a warm wash cloth is the first step in action. This will obviously not heal the ailment, but at minimum curb the irritation from getting worse.
Booties are an acceptable solution in the short term if your companion will allow you to cover their feet. This is obviously an impossibility for some breeds, however if you have the means, it may provide some relief to affected pads.
Petroleum jelly and over the counter ointments falsely beckon owners into thinking that they can alleviate pain and grant their pet a reprieve. The problem is most dogs are excessive lickers, and will ingest the solutions and experience nausea. In small doses it does not prove fatal, but is something to avoid nonetheless.
You do not need to involve a medical expert in the pet field unless your pooch’s quality of life has changed on a dime, or he/she simply cannot move due to aching.
Our Proven Solution
Balms are a suitable and highly tested form of treatment that are inexpensive compared to vet visits and provide speedy relief. The reason they are so successful is they encapsulate the fat on the paw by creating a barrier that soothes and moisturizes the skin.
Paws and Snout Premium Balm delivers comfort and rejuvenation of cells in minutes because of the shea butter and vitamins included in the mixture. Acting as an anti-inflammatory, it swiftly begins to close wounds and regenerate the skin. The natural ingredients are harmless when licked to put you at ease after application. Vitamins A, E, and F perform productively by bringing together healing properties and a cooling sensation that stops burning in its tracks. Best of all, its impact is positively felt year round, being just as efficient in the summer months as opposed to just the blistering cold ones.