Inclement weather, harmful de-icers and harsh terrain are all hard on your pup's tootsies. To keep those little feet clean and protected from the elements, you can use natural solutions like protective booties, socks or salves to prevent Fido's feet from becoming injured without subjecting him to any harsh chemicals.
Salves containing ingredients like beeswax, carnauba or candelila wax and vegetable oils naturally protect your pooch's feet from harm, especially in icy weather. You rub them over the bottoms of your pup's feet and in-between his toes. The wax and oils contained in the salve are absorbed into the paw pads, providing him with protection from the elements. They also moisturize the skin of his feet, preventing it from drying and cracking, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These natural ingredients are non-toxic to pups, even if licked off, and form an invisible barrier between the pads of the feet and snow, sand, mildly rough or hot pavements and chemical de-icers like salt. Apply these salves before walks daily because they do wear off.
Simple socks for dogs are made from materials like cotton, wool or thin and flexible non-synthetic rubber, all of which are natural and won't harm your pooch. Socks allow your pup a full range of motion with his tootsies, while keeping his feet away from dirt and sand; waterproof socks made from rubber are useful in rainy or snowy weather to keep the feet dry, recommends Martha Stewart. The natural materials used to make doggie socks are washable, so you can give them a quick scrub daily, keeping both the socks and Fido's feet clean. While natural fabrics allow your pup's feet to breathe while still protecting them, materials like natural rubber give him better traction, protection from the elements and are disposable when they wear out.
Boots for dogs are more shoe-like and solid than socks. They provide the highest amount of protection for Fido against the elements, according to Dogster. Natural boots made from leather, sheepskin and solid rubber prevent cuts from jagged rocks or broken glass, keep feet dry in bad weather, protect feet from chemicals and insulate feet from extreme temperatures. The drawback with boots is they aren't as comfortable as socks or salves for your pooch and it may take him some time to get used to them. These boots must also be sized correctly because of their construction, so take careful measurements of the bottoms of your pup's feet, including his toenails.
Initially, your pup may not enjoy wearing either socks or boots, but you can change his outlook on footwear. Put the protective footwear on his feet for just a few minutes at a time, praising and treating him while he wears them, so that Fido soon realizes that wearing them leads to good things. If Fido simply refuses to accept the footwear, protective salves give you the option to provide his feet with some natural protection without the feel of socks or boots. You can also combine the use of a salve with fabric socks to give your pup the natural moisturizing benefits of the wax along with the gentle protection of a sock.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Top 10 Paw Care Tips For Dogs
- Dogster: Winter Paw Care Tips
- PAWZ Natural Rubber Dog Boots: Frequently Asked Questions
- Martha Stewart: Cold-Weather Paw Care
- Alaskan Malamute Assistance League: Homemade Mushers Paw Pro
- Cesar's Way: Ask the Vet: Winter Proofing Your Dog’s Paws
- Ruffwear: Canine Paw Protection
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.