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How To Protect Your Dogs Feet In Winter?

When the winter chill begins to bite at the toes, humans simply pull on thick wooly socks to keep their feet warm. The same isn’t true for dogs. Dogs, like other four-legged pets, have incredibly resilient feet which can protect them against environmental stressors.

However, they are still susceptible to cold paws which can be caused by things like frostbite and even certain illnesses. If your dog’s feet are cold, find out what could be the cause and how you can treat it.


Cold surfaces

Walking in cold weather can make your dog’s feet cold. If they have been running around in the wet grass or if there has been snow and frost on the ground, their paws may feel cold to the touch and appear pale.

If you love your winter walks but don’t want your dog getting sick, try investing in special dog booties! This will protect their paws from the cold and snow as well as defend against any sharp debris or rough terrain.

Always remember to limit wintertime strolls to 30 minutes, especially if it’s snowing. While dogs have unique fur-lined padding that protects them from the cold, they are still susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.


Frostbite

Dogs can get frostbite if they become too cold. Like humans, when dogs get too cold, the blood in their paws pulls back into their core body to preserve heat. The lack of blood flow to the extremities can cause frostbite in paws which, if left untreated, can result in loss of limb.

The signs of frostbite in dogs include cold feet that are grey or blue in color, as well as cold ear tips and tail.

To treat frostbite, warm up a towel and wrap it around your dog’s feet. Next, soak your dog’s paws in warm water (never hot - as this can cause burns and injury) and avoid massaging or rubbing the area. Your dog’s feet should begin turning red as they warm up. If you notice blackening of the feet or your dog shows any signs of continued discomfort then follow up with a visit to your local vet. If you can’t visit a vet due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can connect with a vet online through Vetster.


Health problems

Sometimes cold feet in dogs can signal health issues such as Hypothyroidism or even poor blood circulation. Usually, these illnesses are accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, limping, and unexplained hair loss or weight gain.

If you have written off cold weather as the culprit behind cold paws, then it might mean a trip to your vet is in order. Here, they can provide you with the right pet care advice and a full check-up to make sure your dog remains in perfect health.


Cold paws aren’t always a sign of something wrong

If your dog is in otherwise great health, then paws that are cold to touch could signal that their feet are simply just cold! Just like humans, feet can become cold in cool weather and when walking around barefoot.

Dogs have a special heat system in their paws that helps to keep foot temperature stable no matter the weather. Blood vessels in a dog’s paws allow a countercurrent exchange of heat that maintains temperatures at around 31 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that dogs have a high level of resiliency when it comes to cold or hot surface temperatures.


Final thoughts

Remember, even though dogs have added paw insulation to keep their feet warm no matter the weather, it still doesn’t mean they are immune from harsh conditions such as extreme cold and snow. Extended periods outside in cold conditions can heighten your dog’s chances of developing frostbite or hypothermia.

To reduce this risk, providing your dog with pet-friendly boots the next time you go out for a walk provides added protection and insulation. Also, ensure that your dog has a blanket or carpeted area that they can go to to keep dry and warm after they’ve been outside in the elements.

© 2021 jacquicoombe

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