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7 Tips to Protect Your Dog's Paws in Winter

 dog on sidewalk in winter

Wintertime walks with your dog can be picturesque and refreshing, but they can mean all sorts of challenges for your dog’s paws. Snow, ice and snowmelt chemicals can cut and irritate your dog’s paw pads. Plus, the process of repeatedly getting his paws wet and then drying them out can leave paws irritated and dry. These seven tips can help to keep your dog’s paws healthy and comfortable, so you can both enjoy more time outdoors this winter.

1. Do a touch-up trim. If your dog has long hair that grows around his paws and toes, it creates the perfect place for ice and clumps of snow form. Give his paw areas a quick trim to keep this hair shorter in the winter, and do a touch-up every few weeks.

2. Practice pet-safe snow removal. While you can’t control the environment when you walk your dog away from home, you can take some steps to make your yard and driveway safer for your dog’s paws. Clear snow away promptly to help minimize ice. If you must use salt, choose a pet-safe snow melt that’s less likely to irritate your dog’s feet.

3. Keep a towel handy. Have a towel ready when you get home or back into the car after your walks. Wiping down your dog’s paws can help to remove snow, ice, salt, and snow removal chemicals, preventing extra irritation.

4. Invest in booties. Dog booties act as a barrier between your dog’s paw pads and the ground, and they can provide valuable protection. For booties to be effective, they need to be breathable, flexible and have a textured tread for traction.

Bootie fit is also important. A boot that’s too loose can shift and fall off easily. Boots that are too tight may rub and irritate your dog’s paws and legs. To ensure a great fit, follow the bootie manufacturer’s instructions for measuring your dog’s paws.

Acclimating your dog to booties can take some time, so be patient as you introduce them for short periods of time. By getting him used to having his paws handled, you can encourage him to more readily accept his new boots. Be sure to also have plenty of toys and treats to distract him as you’re getting him used to wearing boots.

5. Use paw balm. Paw balm can help to moisturize your dog’s paws, protecting them from irritation during the winter. You can apply paw balm before heading out for a walk, and then reapply it once you’re home for maximum relief and protection.  

6. Inspect your dog’s paws daily. When you’re exposing your dog’s paws to the winter elements, it’s important to do a paw inspection daily. With a regular inspection, you’ll quickly discover issues like cuts or irritated skin. You can then give your dog the appropriate treatment, stopping these issues early on before they become bigger problems.

7. Know when to cut walks short. Even with protective measures like booties and paw balm, some temperatures are just too cold for your dog and can potentially cause frostbite. When the temperatures are extreme, you’re better off keeping walks short and playing a modified game of fetch indoors to give your dog some exercise.

When it comes to spending time outdoors with your dog this winter, a little TLC can help to keep his paws healthy and comfortable so you can enjoy longer walks, games of fetch and more. 

About the Author

Paige Cerulli Image

Paige Cerulli

Paige works as a freelance copywriter and content writer. She often covers health, wellness and chronic-pain topics. A lifelong animal lover and equestrian, Paige particularly enjoys writing about pets and horses. You can find her at

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