Caring For Your Pets Paws (& Nose) In Winter Weather

What Happens To Dogs Paws in Snow, Ice & Salt?

Cold winter weather can bring a few hazards when it comes to your dog’s paws. Caring for your pets paws & nose is simple and you can avoid painful situations like these:

  • Dryness, chapping & cracking – Cold temperatures can cause your dog’s paw pads to dry out resulting in cracks and even potentially infection. Salt and de-icers can cause irritation and sometimes chemical burns. You can easily avoid issues at home by using products like Safe Paw salt. 
  • Frostbite – While not as common, dogs can suffer from frostbite just like humans. Check your dogs feet often while outside to ensure their feet are not too cold.
  • Poisonings – Toxic antifreeze and ice melting agents like salt on your pets paws could potentially cause poisoning if your dog licks it off their feet. Issues can range from an upset stomach to serious poisoning. 
  • Paw Injuries – Sharp salt crystals, rocks and other sharp objects hidden under snow can cause injury to painful cuts to paw pads. 
  • Slips & Falls – Slippery ice and snow can result in trauma or injuries, especially in older dogs or dogs with conditions like arthritis. Booties with rubber traction can help dogs grip ice while walking outside.


Grooming & Cleaning Paws

If you have a long haired dog, you’ve dealt with the long hairs that grow between their toes (aka: “Grinch feet”) and what an issue it can cause. By maintaining your pets grooming schedule and trimming their feet often, you can prevent ice and snow buildup that can develop as they walk through the snow. This not only helps keep your house free from snowballs when your dog comes inside, but it can also save them from a bunch of health issues that are associated. The excess moisture can cause discomfort and even infections in between your dogs toes. Another great tip is to clean your pets paws each time they come in, making sure their feet are clear of any foreign materials. Take a look at this list of paw wipes from to see some recommended brands, and even a ‘recipe’ to make your own!


Apply balms to paw pads & nose

The brittle cold can dry out your pets skin just the way it does to us. Moisturizing your pets paw pads & nose can make a big difference in your pets health. One brand we recommend is Natural Dog Company, and they offer all kinds of balms and supplements, grooming aids and treats! Another way to keep your pets nose & paws healthy is to make sure they stay hydrated. Of course, you should always provide plenty of fresh water for your dogs, but by adding an extra water bowl or even incorporating a fountain, you can encourage drinking and aid in your pets health.


Purchase Dog Boots or Booties

At first they may give you some resistance to wearing booties, but by starting with just a few minutes (and offering treats), you can get your dog adjusted to them. Not only will booties protect your pets paws from the effects of salt and ice, but some even have rubber on the bottom to help with grip. This can be extra helpful for older dogs or dogs that suffer from conditions like arthritis. Take a look here for a list of booties recommended by the AKC.


These paw protection safety measures may warrant some extra time before and after your walks, but it’s well worth the effort to ensure your furry friend’s paws and toes. Following these tips can keep your pup comfortable all winter long, and allow you and your buddy to safely enjoy the wonder of the season together! For more pet safety tips, check out our blog!

Our Certifications

AAHA: The Animal Hospital of Sussex County is a certified hospital in the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). To achieve this distinction, our hospital has passed regular comprehensive inspections of our facilities, medical equipment, veterinary practice methods and management. If you are traveling or relocating anywhere, finding an AAHA hospital will ensure the best medical care for your pet. The AAHA is recognized as the world’s leading association of small animal practitioners.

AAFP: We are also a cat friendly practice, certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This means that the Animal Hospital of Sussex County is specifically set up to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment for your cat. Our staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.

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