Paw check: What the dog's paw needs in winter

Dusseldorf. Many people know it from themselves: In winter, their hands are often brittle and sometimes even cracked. The dog is no different. Especially since he walks virtually “barefoot” in the cold on paths covered in ice, snow and salt. Rough tar or chippings cause problems for paws all year round. To ensure that man's best friend can still enjoy the winter without any worries, proper paw care is essential.

“Basically, it is important to check your four-legged friend’s paws for dirt and foreign bodies after every walk and to remove them,” emphasizes Dr. Heidi Bernauer-Münz, practicing veterinarian, animal behavior therapist and chairwoman of the working group for small animals of the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare eV “Injuries to the pads or between the toes can easily become infected. A trip to the vet is then necessary and healing can be lengthy. Therefore, prevention is always better than cure.”

Also check the paws for foreign bodies between the toes
Paw checks and care only take a few minutes a day. It is important to examine the areas between the pads in particular, because when the paws are placed while running, the toes are spread open and dirt and foreign bodies can also get stuck there. Since some dogs' “feet” are ticklish, they don't like to be touched there and keep pulling their paws away. “With a little practice and patience, you can teach your dog to stay still. It's best to start training when it's a puppy and use treats to encourage the dog's willingness to groom itself,” says the veterinarian.

Apply lotion to paws after cleaning
In addition to routine inspection, dog paws require additional care in winter. Dr. Bernauer-Münz: “To do this, clean the paw pads and toes as well as the spaces between the toes from dirt and salt with a damp cloth and dry them well. Since dogs like to lick their paws, they would otherwise ingest the salt and that is not good for them. If necessary, treat the toes and pads with a suitable fat cream or a special paw spray. This is particularly recommended if the skin is already brittle.”

In dog breeds with long fur, snow can get stuck on the hair between the toes and pads and compact into lumps of ice. Small stones are often included. “This is then very painful for the dog when walking and injuries can result. Therefore, the fur should be trimmed regularly with rounded scissors, taking care not to damage the skin,” recommends Dr. Bernauer coin. Special dog boots can also protect the paws.

If dog owners heed these tips, their four-legged friends can frolic around carefree even in ice and snow and get through the winter on healthy paws.