Written by Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Linda Simon
At this time of year, it’s important to pay closer attention to your pet’s paw pads. While they don’t usually require a lot of maintenance, some dogs require a little extra help when the weather gets cold.
As with people, some dogs find their exposed skin gets dry and cracked when exposed to cold weather and dry air. We may notice a cracked and flaky nose and paw pads. Certain breeds, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Siberian Husky are more prone to this happening.
For some, there may be an underlying medical issue. Things like hormone disorders, auto-immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies can all affect the health of the paw pads. So, if your dog suddenly develops an issue, a vet visit is sensible.
What are the signs to watch out for?
If your dog is struggling with their pads you may notice:
- Paw pads that are visibly dry, cracked and brittle
- Excessive licking or chewing of the pads
- A limp or stilted gait
- Reluctance to walk on hard surfaces like pavement
- While on a walk, your dog may pull to go back home, hold a paw up or start to whine
What are some wintertime risks when it comes to our dog’s paws?
Dry and cold weather: While dogs have thick paw pads, they can’t always cope with prolonged cold weather. This is especially true of breeds who were bred in warmer climates. Walking on ice and snow can cause pads to quickly dry out.
Grit: Though gritting is important to prevent slippery surfaces and help snow and ice melt, it can be a real hazard to our pets. Grit can irritate their sensitive skin, especially if snow becomes impacted on top. The rock salt used can also be toxic to dogs if licked from paws.
Chemicals: While not associated with cold weather per se, it’s sensible to be on the lookout for chemicals on the ground where you walk. Bleach, chlorine and anti-freeze could all be hazardous to your dog if walked on.