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How to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Safe This Winter

Someone holding a container of bag balm, a dog running on the sidewalk, and someone putting ice melt on a driveway
Bag Balm/QUMY/Safe Paw

Whether your dog is like a giddy child in the snow or would rather stay inside from November to March, it’s important to protect her paws in the winter. Everything from hard snow to chemical ice melts can injure a dog’s paw pads. Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your best friend’s furry feet with the right knowledge and a few handy tools.

Why You Need to Protect Your Dog’s Paws

A dog paw on top of human hands.
4 PM production/Shutterstock.com

Many might think the tough pads on their dog’s feet are equivalent to shoes and offer the same amount of protection. Actually, though, those little pads are more like thick socks—they do protect your pet’s feet a bit, but would you walk around your neighborhood wearing only your socks?

Paw pads are tough, but they’re still made of tissue, muscle, and skin, just like your feet. This means they’re prone to damage, especially in extreme weather conditions. Dogs that are built for cold weather and spend a lot of time outside, like those that live on a farm, can withstand a good amount of snow and ice. The average canine, however, shouldn’t be going on walks in the winter without some level of foot protection.

There are a few ways winter weather can hurt your pup. First, snow and cold winds can dry out your dog’s paws, just as cold weather often dries out your own skin. Over time, their little paw pads can get scaly, cracked, and might even bleed.

Terrain also plays a role. Soft, fluffy snow is fine for them to walk on, but it’s rare to go a full winter without uneven, icy surfaces. If your dog walks on rough snow or ice, it can scrape or cut his paw pads, which, of course, can be painful.

Finally, residential and city dogs’ paws are also often affected by chemicals used on the ground to melt snow and ice. These products can cause irritation and a burning sensation in your dog’s feet.

Given all of these factors, you don’t want to risk your dog getting hurt. Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can protect your furbaby’s feet, so she can still enjoy going outside during the wintertime.

Dog Boots

A dog running on the sidewalk and a dog wearing boots

The best way to protect your dog’s paws in the winter is to invest in a good pair of doggie boots. Just as the name implies, these are worn on each paw and offer the same protection a sturdy pair of sneakers or boots offers you. This pair even has a reflective strap for extra safety at night.

Of course, not all dogs will appreciate this footwear, but it’s worth a shot! Unlike ointments, dog boots aren’t messy and don’t require any special care after a trip outside. They’ll protect your pup’s feet on rough terrain, in cold temperatures, and from ice-melt chemicals.

QUMY Dog Boots

The ultimate protection for those precious paws.

Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax

A container of wax and a dog in the snow
Musher’s Secret

Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax is a thick balm made to protect a dog’s paws from ice, gravel, and other painful outdoor elements. Originally developed for sled dogs, you can rest assured this stuff will get the job done.

It’s made of natural waxes and oils that will absorb quickly into your pet’s paw pads, but won’t stain flooring or carpet. You might have to deal with a bit of residue from wiggly dogs, so it’s best to apply this outside or on a washable rug.

You can use a paper towel to apply it to your dog’s paws or dip his fluffy feet right in the tub until each pad is evenly coated. Hunters, dogsledders, and city folk alike, all swear by this magical ointment.

Musher's Secret Dog Paw Wax

Keep your pup's paws safe in all weather conditions.

Bag Balm

A green tin cube and someone opens a container of bag balm
Bag Balm

You’ll find at least one container of Bag Balm on every farm in America. This ointment is typically used to treat chapped skin and minor wounds in livestock, but it also works as a more cost-effective alternative to Musher’s Paw Wax.

Its consistency is similar to petroleum jelly, so it’s easier to apply to your dog’s paws than Musher’s wax. However, it doesn’t offer the same waxy, protective coating as Musher’s, and it might not last as long as the pricier brand. This balm works best for shorter walks or romps at the park.

Bag Balm

Made for farm animals, it will provide a layer of short-term protection for your dog's paws.

A Paw Washer

Someone cleans their dog's paws

After going for a walk in winter, you’ll want to clean your dog’s feet and remove any snow, ice crystals, or ice-melt chemicals. This dog paw washer offers a simple way to clean off any debris as soon as your dog is inside so he won’t make a mess on the floor.

To use it, you just add water to the cup, insert your dog’s paw, and then twist the device a few times. The silicone brushes inside will gently remove anything clinging to her feet and rinse off any remaining snow. It’ll also come in handy on rainy days the rest of the year by preventing your pet from tracking mud inside.

Dexas MudBuster Portable Dog Paw Washer

Quickly rinse off each paw after a walk at the park.

An Absorbent Towel

A dog being cleaned with a shammy towel
Dog Gone Smart

If you’re a supporter of the tried-and-true towel method of cleaning paws, you likely keep one near the door to wipe off your dog’s feet as soon as you get inside. While it’s not perfect, this is a fine way to remove most of the snow and chemicals from your pet’s feet.

If you want to upgrade your material a bit, this cute dog shammy is a real winner. It’s made with a microfiber blend that’s super absorbent. It gets deep into the crevices between a dog’s paw pads and absorbs any moisture and other residue a regular towel would miss. It’s also handy for drying off a happy, wet pupper after playtime in the snow.

Dog Gone Smart

Quickly absorbs any chemicals and moisture from your dog's paws.

Pet-Safe Ice Melt

A container of pet-safe ice melt and someone pours it on their sidewalk
Safe Paw

While you can’t control which type of ice melt your city uses to clear the streets and sidewalks, you can make your own porch, walkways, and driveway dog-friendly. This ice melt is made of a patented, nontoxic and noncorrosive formula.

It’ll melt any snow or ice, but won’t harm your pets or kids when it’s stepped on, or even ingested. This will allow you to rest easier, knowing your beloved pet and family aren’t at risk of any irritation or sickness just because you’re trying to prevent folks from slipping on any ice.

Pet Safe Ice Melt

Nontoxic formula won't irritate your dog's paws.

Our pets are part of our family, so naturally, you want to protect their feet from the harsh effects of winter weather. If you’ve been looking for a solution to keep your furbaby’s feet (and your floors) free of snow, ice, and slush this winter, one of these handy products is sure to do the trick.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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