Ash Veterinary Clinic


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Winter Pet Paw Care

Winter boots are essential wear for people to provide traction and protection on snow and ice. Likewise, our pets need special care and attention for their feet during harsh weather too. Those fancy pet booties are not just a fashion statement! They can be very protective if your pet will keep them on, that is. Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic, we want owners to know how to minimize injury and discomfort for their pets’ paws and be aware of other winter dangers, too.

                 If your pet is going on a walk or hike in snowy areas, ice balls can form between the paw pads. This is the number one issue that you will see with dogs who have a lot of hair between the paw pads. That hair serves to collect the snow and form a nice hard ice ball, which makes it difficult to walk, not to mention how uncomfortable this may be. This problem is prevented by having your groomer trim the hair between the paw pads. You can even try applying a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil to the area prior to the walk. Be sure to use an edible ointment or oil, as dogs often lick their feet and may ingest what was applied.

                Another effective option is boots for pets. This may not work for all pet personalities, but for dogs that will tolerate a boot, this offers the ultimate protection from the elements. You may need to work with your pet a bit to make sure they are comfortable with the boots on their paws. Start with the boots on for small periods of time and work up to using them outside. Make sure you have plenty of healthy treats handy to praise your pet for a job well done.

Salt and other ice melting granules can irritate your pet’s paws. Dogs and cats often lick their paws when wet or irritated which can lead to possible toxicity by ingestion of the ice melting substances. Pets also love eating and licking the snow that falls off of boots, and if you use (or have walked on) a de-icer compound, your pet could ingest that as well. To prevent this possible health hazard, wipe your pet’s feet when coming in from outside each time. Sand, gravel and non-clumping cat litters are the safest option (in terms of not being toxic) for traction on ice and snow, but pets should not consume these products either. Use caution when using any salt or chemical deicers and if at all possible, buy “pet safe” brands.  You can also wipe off your own boots so they cannot lick them, or leave them in a garage or outside. I keep a rag by the doors they use and I let my dogs in one by one, wipe their paws and move on to the next one.

 One of the more common injuries we see result from stepping on items obscured by snow, sharp edges on ice, and sometimes from toys and implements used to remove snow. First aid treatment is to gently cleanse the wound with warm water and a mild soap, and if needed apply pressure to stop bleeding. If your pet’s paw becomes injured after being outside in the snow, we recommend bringing them in to see us as soon as possible. Timely treatment of wounds decreases the likelihood of complications and infections. Paw pads are very thick and can be slow to heal. Without treatment, they can become easily infected because your pet’s paw is touching the ground every time they walk. Some deep cuts to the paw pads can require sutures or surgical intervention for proper healing.

Here in Michigan, there are many things to do and places to go with your pets in the winter. We want to make sure that your pet is kept safe while enjoying the fluffy white snow and slippery ice. If you have any questions or your pet has the misfortune of an injury, you can always call us at any time for advice or emergency care at 734-782-2827. We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season and hope to see you and your furry babies for healthy exams and visits in the New Year.

Dr. Toinette Strusinski-Broschay is the owner of Ash Veterinary Clinic in Carleton.

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: