Not all dogs have snow build up as bad as the poor dog in the picture, but some do. As you can imagine, trying to walk with snow between your paw pads is rather painful, (think about a stone in your shoe). It only takes a little ball of snow or ice to make it painful enough for your pet to just sit down and wait for it to melt. Or worse, they may try to lick their feet clean, which then freezes, and makes matters worse.
“SO, what can I do?” you may ask…and you should. Let’s discuss a few ideas:
Musher’s Secret – Sled dogs run the Iditarod and rarely get snow between the pads. The secret is this special wax, or combination of several kinds of waxes. I don’t know exactly what is in it, but it keeps the hair between the pads pasted down, so that the fluffy snow doesn’t get stuck on the hair. It’s available on line, though I’ve never used it. Crisco or Lard is like the “Poor Man’s Musher’s Secret”. It works the same way in that it keeps the hair plastered down. I’m not sure how to get it out of the hair when the pet comes back in, but most snow won’t stick to it, so snowballs are not a problem. Caution! If your dog is a licker, or likes to try new things, licking Crisco or lard off their feet could cause Pancreatitis! If you use it on their feet, please try to get it off as soon as they are back inside.
Trimming – Snowballs stick to the hair between the pads, especially in the center of the paw, between all of the pads. No hair, no snowballs! If you have never cut this hair from your pets’ paw, please don’t try it for the first time by yourself! Get a professional groomer to do it, or MAYBE show you how to do it. A pair of scissors in that area can be dangerous! It is also a difficult area to put stitches in, if you mess up. There are other similar options, but they get even more dangerous than the trimming if you are not experienced, so I’m not even going to mention them.
Booties – Yes, you can buy little rubber booties for their feet to put on before they go out. Some dogs take to them immediately and have no problems. Most dogs are much funnier to watch! They can’t figure out what they have attached to their feet; they try to shake them off as they walk, and it’s hilarious! They will eventually get used to it, and it doesn’t hurt. They do work, but some pet parents just can’t stand watching their pets try them on. Socks on the other hand, are easy. I’ve used this idea on most of my dogs that have snowball issues. We take a pair of baby or toddler socks, and pull them up as far as we can. They work as long as they stay on, which quite often is not very long. If you want to try to tie them up BE CAREFUL, you could cut off the circulation if they are too tight. When I used them, I’d put 4 on, get 3 back, and come spring time when the snow melts, I’d spend an hour or so picking up socks all over the back yard. But it works! You might try some regular athletic tape, and tape the socks to the hair. They will stay up better, and it need not be tight.
I will end with this: Sometime, relatively soon, I will have this problem solved forever. This is a win-win situation that always works, no side effects, and anyone can do it…MOVE TO FLORIDA!
John R. Gaudion, Office Manager