2. Protect your dog’s paws if they need it
There are two issues with the ground in the winter, Verdino says. “One is obviously snow and ice—especially for younger dogs, whose paws are not as calloused. Their feet will get cold quickly and it will start to hurt their paws. You might notice your dog or your puppy holding his feet up. It’s like you being barefoot in the snow. It wouldn’t be pleasant for a prolonged time if they are young, and/or if they have sensitive paws.”
The solution: booties. If you’re thinking, “My dog’s not going to wear booties,” you’d be surprised. Sure, there’s a learning curve—but boots are great for protecting your dog’s paws against tough winter terrain. Even Iditarod sled dogs wear booties—and they’re bred and trained to pull sleds through Alaskan winters.
“Put the booties on your dog in the house, let your dog walk around in them a little bit, and then take them off,” says Verdino. Train them in short bursts. Let them get used to the process, and then it should be fairly easy. (You’ll probably want to give yourself an extra five minutes or so to get them on before leaving the house.)
Consider RuffWear’s Polar Trex Boots ($99.95; Ruffwear.com) for their winter-specific boot with Vibram IceTek outsole for gripping in snowy, icy conditions. We like that they have reflective trim for additional visibility. You measure all four of your dog’s paws to ensure a great fit, but make sure you tighten them around your dog’s paws or they’ll fall off. Hesitant to spend nearly $100 on dog booties? We get you. You might want to start with the highly rated water-resistant booties from My Busy Dog ($35.99; Amazon.com). Alternatively, you could go the Iditarod route: wax. When I don’t have as much time, I find that applying Musher’s Secret wax seems to help protect my dog’s paws a little from the cold and salt ($18.79; Walmart.com).Back to top