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We are often fooled by our dogs. Just because they have furry paws does not mean they can't be tortured by "cold feet"...

Dogs Get Cold Feet in Winter Too!

It is upsetting and often perplexing when we see our pet experience signs of discomfort; even if it is short-lived and intermittent. However,what you are describing is a common winter season complaint from dog owners and is usually caused by one of two problems (or sometimes both.

The first is the development of ice pellets in the hair between your pet’s toes. This often occurs because the warmth of our pet’s paws melts the snow that clings to it causing the hair on the paw (especially between the toes)to become wet, refreeze, and begin to accumulate more snow. Eventually the ice pellet enlarges and causes discomfort during walking, much like a pebble in the boot would do to us.This is often aggravated by the licking/chewing our pets do in an effort to remove the snow accumulation.

The second likely cause is paw discomfort resulting from exposure to the salt commonly used to prevent ice build up on walkways or roadways. Salt can be very irritating to the feet with excess paw hair tending to trap the salt and prolong its contact with our pet’s paws.

Fortunately, the solutions to these problems are relatively simple. Begin by trimming excess hair from between your pet’s toes. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, enlist the assistance of a professional groomer.If possible, avoid areas that have been salted and use alternate methods to prevent ice build-up on your own property, such as regular shoveling and sand. Ensure that any residual salt is rinsed off or removed with a damp cloth once you are back home, drying the feet afterwards. If avoidance of salt is impossible, consider the use of foot covers or “pet booties”. Several companies make different types that are easy to put on, durable, and most pets accept them quite readily.

One word of caution though; if evidence of paw discomfort or lameness is persistent or seen together with skin irritation, a more severe medical problem such as arthritis or a skin infection, may be present and a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

Reprinted with permission from

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