Pain-Free Winter Paws

By John Monahan

Crisp air and fresh snow can bring out the silly puppy in the most regal of Rovers. But ice and snow mixed with salt, sand, and chemical de-icers will ruin winter fun in short order. Dog boots (adorably referred to as “booties”) help protect a pooch’s paws from harsh winter weather, says Jim Sinning, DVM, a holistic veterinarian—and he ought to know, since he practices in snowy Minneapolis. “Booties are great as long as they’re not too tight,” Sinning says. Most brands offer sizing charts to make sure you get a boot that will work whether you have a Bernese or a bichon. We like Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boots made from recycled tire materials and nylon.

If your dog can’t abide booties, Musher’s Secret, made with a blend of organic waxes, will protect your dog’s dogs from cracking, drying, salt burns, and collecting those painful between-the-pads ice balls. For paws irritated by winter weather, Sinning suggests applying calendula salve or aloe vera gel to soothe and using vitamin E ointment as a moisturizer for pads and between the toes.