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How To Protect Dog Paws in Winter

Winter is a great season to spend time outside with our dogs. Many dogs prefer cold temperatures to hot and love having a chance to romp in the snow. However, pet parents need to take some extra precautions to keep dogs safe in the winter, including finding the right type of paw protection. This guide will cover why paw protection is necessary, the best methods for protecting your dog's paws, and real-world tips for keeping your dog's feet safe during winter activities.

Why Do You Need To Protect Your Dog’s Paws in Winter?

Dog paws bear the brunt of dangers associated with winter weather:

  • Sharp ice: Can cut deeply into paw pads.

  • Snow clumps: Forms painful clumps that lodge between paw pads and in the fur around a dog’s feet.

  • Dampness: Increases the risk of frostbite.

  • Lack of traction: May lead to slips, falls, strains, and sprains.

  • Ice-melting chemicals: Can irritate the skin or cause digestive upset if licked from the fur. Large ingestions can even cause muscle tremors and seizures.

These risks increase the longer dogs are outside and the more miles they travel. When there’s snow and ice on the ground, it’s worth considering paw protection for anything other than the shortest jaunt outside.

Real-World Situation

Rex, a lively German Shepherd, loves winter walks. However, one day he returned home with cuts on his paw pads from sharp ice hidden under the snow. His owner quickly realized the importance of paw protection and began using dog booties and paw balm for all future winter outings.

The Best Way To Protect Your Dog’s Paws in Winter: Use Booties

Q: What are the best dog booties for winter?

A: Dog snow boots are the most reliable way to protect paws in winter. They provide a nearly impenetrable barrier against sharp ice, snow, dampness, and chemicals and can help with traction. The best doggie boots for winter are:

  • Lightweight

  • Easy to get on and off

  • Adjustable and come in a wide variety of sizes to ensure a snug but comfortable fit

  • Made from durable, waterproof, breathable materials

  • Easy to clean

  • Nonslip

Recommended Dog Booties:

  • Muttluks Trackers All-Season Dog Boots

  • Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes

  • Muttluks Original Fleece-Lined Winter Dog Boots

Tips for Using Dog Booties

  1. Acclimate your dog: Start by putting the booties on your dog in the house for just a few minutes. Gradually build up to taking short and then longer walks outside.

  2. Use treats and praise: Reward your dog with treats and praise to help them get used to wearing the booties.

  3. Remove booties indoors: Always remove dog snow boots once you’re inside so your dog doesn’t get uncomfortably warm or have the chance to lick chemicals off the exterior of the boots. Leaving them on for too long can also cause painful pressure sores.

Real-World Situation

Bella, a Border Collie, initially resisted wearing dog booties. Her owner started by having Bella wear the booties for a few minutes inside the house, rewarding her with treats and praise. Over time, Bella got used to the booties and now happily wears them on all her winter walks.

Other Methods for Keeping Your Dog’s Paws Protected

Q: What other methods can I use to protect my dog's paws in winter if booties aren’t an option?

A: While doggie boots for winter offer the best protection against the elements, they aren’t right for every dog or in every situation. Thankfully, pet parents have some other good choices.

Use Paw Balm

Q: How does paw balm protect dog paws?

A: Paw balms like Musher's Secret Paw Protection Natural Dog Wax form a protective barrier against dampness and chemicals and prevent snow from clumping between paw pads and toes. Good paw balms also contain ingredients that are moisturizing and soothing to a dog’s feet.

How to Apply Paw Balm

  1. Apply outdoors: Apply a thin layer of balm on and between your dog’s paw pads, between their toes, and on the fur on the sides of the feet.

  2. Use a towel: Place a towel next to your door so you can wipe any chemicals or excess balm off your dog’s feet before you let them back indoors.

  3. Reapply as needed: Paw balms may need to be reapplied if you’re outside with your dog for a long time.

Real-World Situation

Max, a Labrador Retriever, disliked wearing booties. His owner started using Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Balm, which kept Max’s paws protected from snow and ice-melting chemicals. Max enjoyed his winter walks without discomfort.

Carry a Towel

Q: How can a towel help protect my dog's paws?

A: For short walks, you may simply want to carry a hand towel or grooming glove. Use it to wipe chemicals from your dog’s feet, remove any clumps of snow, and dry off your dog’s paws before coming back inside.

Real-World Situation

Lucy, a small Terrier, went on short walks with her owner. Her owner carried a hand towel to wipe off Lucy’s paws before returning indoors, preventing any irritation from ice-melting chemicals.

Shovel a Set Path

Q: How can shoveling a path help?

A: If you have access to a yard, shoveling a path for your dog to use can make potty breaks easier and safer. While it won’t solve all problems, it can reduce the risks associated with snow and ice.

Real-World Situation

Charlie, a Beagle, has a backyard where his owner shovels a path for him to use during potty breaks. This helps keep Charlie’s paws safe from sharp ice and snow clumps.

Additional Tips for Winter Paw Care

Keep Nails Trimmed

Q: Why is it important to keep my dog’s nails trimmed in winter?

A: Long nails can cause your dog’s toes to spread out, making it easier for snow and ice to accumulate between them. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed can reduce this risk.

Real-World Situation

Daisy, a Husky, often had snow clumps form between her toes. Her owner started keeping her nails trimmed, which helped reduce the snow accumulation and kept Daisy’s paws more comfortable.

Monitor for Frostbite

Q: How can I prevent frostbite on my dog’s paws?

A: Limit the time your dog spends outside in extreme cold, and always check their paws for signs of frostbite, such as discoloration, swelling, or blisters.

Real-World Situation

Rex, a German Shepherd, loves playing in the snow. His owner monitors his paws for any signs of frostbite and ensures that Rex’s outdoor time is limited during extremely cold weather.

Regular Paw Inspections

Q: Why should I inspect my dog’s paws regularly?

A: Regularly checking your dog’s paws allows you to identify and address any issues, such as cuts, cracks, or irritation, before they become serious problems.

Real-World Situation

Bella’s owner inspects her paws after every walk, looking for any signs of injury or irritation. This proactive approach keeps Bella’s paws healthy and prevents minor issues from escalating.


Winter can be a fun and exciting time for you and your dog, but it’s important to take steps to protect their paws from the harsh conditions. Whether you choose dog booties, paw balm, or other protective measures, being prepared can ensure your dog enjoys the winter season safely. Regularly inspect your dog's paws, keep their nails trimmed, and monitor for signs of frostbite to keep their feet healthy and comfortable. With the right precautions, you and your dog can enjoy all the joys of winter together.

How To Protect Dog Paws in Winter
How To Protect Dog Paws in Winter


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