Winter Weather Paw Protection: A Dog’s Paws Are a Gateway To His Senses
I see people walking their dogs on hot pavement or in very cold weather without paw protection. Neither one of these activities is good for your dog. A dog’s paws, even though they have calloused footpads, are their connection with the earth. The paw is tough and calloused but supple. Extreme conditions can cause direct damage to their feet. Anyone that has ever had a foot problem can testify to the ways in which foot problems complicate life.
Unless you haven’t even opened your window during the last month, you may have noticed that the cold weather has arrived. Think about laying your bare skin on the ground. The pads of a dog’s feet are callouses, a tough cushion of epidermal cells that protects the inner workings and nerves in the foot. The feet are connected to many parts of their body by design. The result is that anything that affects the feet negatively, like extreme hot or cold, is hard on the entire body.
The feet are so sensitive that some dogs will never allow anyone to handle or even touch their feet. Some people buy dog boots and expect their dog will just wear them because it is good for them. That won’t happen with most dogs. They care not for your lectures. A dog can become so foot-sensitive that it takes training for many to even consider a boot. Virtually every set of dog boots we have sold come back because people expect their dog to slip it on and enjoy. They’re not aware of the training necessary to accommodate their dog’s fears.
Despite many great dog boot designs, most end in failure because the customer does not acclimate the pet to the boots. And without these boots in extreme weather, the pads often crack and tear. Think about a dog with open splits in their paws walking on rock salt. It sounds painful. It is painful. Remember the old saying about “rubbing salt in the wounds”?
The other day a customer came in on a really cold day, and I noticed their dog was having a problem with his feet. I asked the customer if I could look at his feet. The pads were very soft. I asked her if that was always the case, and she told me she uses hand lotion to help heal the splits. That is an awful thing to do. She just thought she was doing right for her pet. The result is actually the opposite. It makes the pads more sensitive. Pads are calloused for a reason – to protect the feet. I suggested she use Mushers. Mushers and a few other brands will help protect the feet and heal them without causing a softening of the callouses like regular skin lotions.
A pet’s feet are very important. You should do your best to protect them during these cold, salt rock-ridden winter months. You might consider working with clicker training to get your pet to allow you to put boots on him. There are other ways, but I really prefer clicker training. It will take a while but when your pet finds realizes that his best treat only cometh when the boots are on, you are home free.
Every sled dog I’ve ever seen wears boots. If they can do it, so can your pet.