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Winter Weather Dog Walkin’ Considerations & Care

At Geartrade, we’re dog people! We love those frito-smelling paws as much as the next person, so we wanted to give you the low-down on keeping your dog healthy through the rough and tough winter months. On top of regular nail clipping and grooming your doggos, when the weather turns frigid, it’s time to pay extra attention to those little feet.

These Paws are Made for Walking

Most dog breeds have super durable paws by nature. Paws are made up of muscle, fatty tissue, tendons, ligaments, keratin, and collagen. Oh and bones! They’ve got a super thick skin over the top that allows them to tolerate a variety of landscapes, temps, and textures. Your dog even has a unique circulatory system right in their feet that helps them regulate their temperature in the cold and heat.

Another factor in your dog’s paw durability is their lifestyle. If they spend a lot of time on varied terrains and hard surfaces, they will have more developed calluses which protect their feet even more than the amazing starter packs that they’re born with.

Freezing Temps, To Walk or Not to Walk?

So the good news is that most likely, your active adventure buddy of a pooch generally can regulate the temperature of their paws on their own once it gets cold. So basically, you’re going to be the one needing to bundle up in winter gear to keep up with your pooch!

All jokes aside, there are definitely times when it’s too cold to be out for very long.

This temperature might be different between dogs. It’s important to pay attention to your own pup to see what their threshold might be. If they start picking up their feet, refuse to go on, or lie down in the middle of the trail (in an out-of-character way,) it just might be too cold for them.

Sub 20 Degrees Fahrenheit on average, is when you should really start considering the length of time your pup should be out without any protective gear.

Sidewalk Salts: Not a Good Post-Walk Treat

Icy sidewalks bring the inevitable presence of deicers, or sidewalk salt. Those little blue crystals that melt the ice and provide traction for sidewalk walkers, can actually cause your pups harm.

Most deicers are made from harsh salt compounds and chemicals. So when you and your dog are walking around town where the salts are present, it’s important to keep this in mind while you’re out and when you get back home.

With consistent exposure to walking on the chunks of salt, your dog’s paws can be subject to cuts, dryness, cracking, and even chemical burns in some cases.

Then, when you get home and your dog experiences any form of discomfort to their feet, they’ll likely start to lick them. This presents another hazard. The various forms of salts and chemicals in the deicer they’d been walking in can make them sick when ingested.

Knowing the hazards of de-icing salts can help you keep your eye out for symptoms of discomfort and give you the forethought to avoid exposure as well.

Now let’s be clear, one walk around a few blocks where there is salt is not likely going to cause your dog serious harm, but if it’s a regular occurrence, that is when you may start to see some problems.

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Dogs:





-No appetite



-Lack of coordination/collapsing

-Mouth ulcers

If you think your dog has ingested sidewalk salts/deicers or any other chemicals, reach out to your vet immediately.

Paw Care, Protection & Prevention  

Wipe your Paws, Rufus!

Taking the time to wipe down your dog’s paws upon returning from a sidewalk walk can help you keep them from ingesting anything on their paws that could make them sick.

Paw Check

Checking the status of your dog’s feet when you get home from an adventure can let you know if you need to take any further precautions to keep them in good shape. You may consider skipping a sidewalk walk and opting for a snowy trail, creating a regimented moisturizing schedule, or picking up some dog booties or paw wax.

Knowing When to Call It

If it’s too cold, your dog’s paws are too cracked/dry/raw/cut-up, you should really just let them rest. It’s important to create a plan to get their paws back into good shape.

Keep them clean with a gentle washing in warm water on a regular basis

Apply pet-safe moisturizers to their paws such as coconut oil & bag balm

Cover the moisturized paws with socks to keep them from continuing to lick them

Bootie Time

At some point you may decide that your pooch could really benefit from some booties. There are a few different kinds, such as those that are made specifically for winter. These booties can have tread and light insulation. It might be time for booties if:

You’re wanting to get out in sub 20F weather

Your dog’s cold tolerance is low

They get a lot of snowballs between their toes

For regular walking where deicers are present

Paw Wax

Now, paw wax is not going to be as protective as a full-on boot, but it can still be an awesome tool to keep the precious paws in good shape. Paw wax creates a temporary barrier between the skin of the paws and the elements or undesirable substances.

Therefore, they can help to:

Keep your dog's feet from cracking as easily

Keep in-between-toe snowballs at bay

Offer some protection from the effects of walking on sidewalk salts*

*You still need to wash off your dog’s paws when returning from a walk where deicers are present even when paw wax has been applied.

Dog Coats

Dog’s with thinner coats, or any dog in colder temps could benefit from a little jacket. If it starts to warm up, and you’re delayering and your dog has a solid coat, go ahead and delayer them too!


Not all dogs tolerate goggles, but they can be an awesome addition to the bluebird day winter wardrobe especially if the breed of your dog is prone to eye problems.

At the end of the day, you know your pet, and you can tell when they’re uncomfortable. Pay attention to them and make the choices needed to keep them happy and healthy all winter long!

Kalie Lovell: self proclaimed hiker-trash, fiction and non-fiction writer, video content creator, cheese, ramen, and dog lover. As a regular UnNew-repper, she is constantly sharing gear care, maintenance, and repair tips in order to keep her gear in tip top shape for all of her hiking and backpacking adventures. Kalie dreams of an even more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming outdoor industry and wants to share her love of the outdoors with all who are willing to tag along!

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