With two good snows already on the books, Richmond’s winter season is officially upon us. We all know what this means: breaking out all of our winter gear to protect us from the cold. Personally, (being from Florida) this is all new to me, so it’s a learning process. As a dog trainer, I spend a lot of time outdoors, despite the freezing temperatures, working with my dogs and clients’ dogs. I have quickly learned that my winter gear should include some items for my pups as well because as it turns out, they aren’t huge fans of the cold either!
Between the ice, and the chemicals or salt poured over the sidewalks, your walks could lead to serious pain and injury. Pay attention when you bring your dog outside. Don’t let them ingest any of the “melters” because even the salt can make them sick. Also avoid letting them eat snow because there could be something on it or in it that you don’t see.
I have tested a few different types of items and had varying levels of success. The dog booties I have tried were, if nothing, entertaining. My dogs did not take to them, kicking their legs in every direction and running away from their own feet while they were on. Booties come in disposable or more high tech options that can be used for hiking and other activites. These are great if your dog will wear them. Your dog may take some time to adjust. My dogs won’t go to the bathroom with them on so I was forced to find an alternative.
There are a number of different balms, usually wax based, that you can apply to your dogs’ paws before you leave for walks. They provide a barrier between their paw pads and the snow, salt, and chemical “melters” often poured on the sidewalks. Be aware, your dog may love the snow, but the fur between their paw pads can get wet and then freeze when they are playing. This will also lead to discomfort. When using the balm be sure to keep the fur between their paw pads trimmed to ensure effectiveness. Follow the instructions carefully. I had much more success with the balm.
One other item you can keep for your pet is some kind of coat, preferably one with a water repellent layer. With snow, sleet, and rain in the winter, it is important to keep them dry. Your dog will get cold just like you, so keep them bundled up!
Some helpful links to items I have tried (not affiliate links, just my recommendations)