Even in the south, winter can be harsh, but as humans, we don’t feel it in our feet. Shoes keep us from touching ice, snow, salt, and other things found on the ground. Dogs, like other animals, have more natural defenses against the chill than we do, but I’ve learned it’s not a perfect system. When your favorite Fido has chilly toes, you may wonder why and if you should worry about it. I’ll share everything I know, plus a few tips and tricks to help your pet keep their feet warm.
Why are my dog’s paws cold? Your dogs’ paws are cold because the ground or floor they walk on is cold. Though they have fur between their paw pads, they still transfer heat and cold easily. Unless there are other symptoms, your pet is feeling the weather.
Hypothermia: More Than Cold Paws
If your dog has any other symptoms or health conditions alongside the cold paws, then you should be concerned regardless. However, as a general rule, when it’s too chilly for you, it’s also too cold for your pooch. They don’t like having cold feet, and it can harm them.
A dogs’ normal body temperature range is between 101 and 102.5. If your pup is too cold, then you could be looking at hypothermia. However, their paws are not the indicator of low overall body temp. Use a thermometer to make sure it’s not just a paw problem.
Dogs shouldn’t go out in the cold for too long. Even with their fur coats, most domestic dogs aren’t bred for cold weather. As a species, they’ve been living indoors for generations. Likewise, walking your dog in the snow isn’t a great plan, and will undoubtedly cause cold paws.
Check for Doggy Hypothermia
Especially if you live somewhere cold, I suggest picking up an ARCA Pet First Aid Kit from Amazon. Having a thermometer is an excellent start, but this kit comes with the necessary supplies you might need for your dog. To check prices and availability, click here.
Frostbite in Dogs Paws
When your dog has cold paws, check the tip of their tail and ears as well. Hypothermia is potentially fatal, but fortunately, frostbite typically isn’t. However, your dog can end up losing a paw or other body part if the frostbite is terrible enough.
Like a human, when your dog gets too cold, the blood from their extremities pulls back into the core to preserve vital organs, and save their life. Lack of blood flow to their feet and other extremities will cause frostbite because there’s no warmth flowing back in. Hypothermia sets in after
First, look for ice on the skin since that’s the most obvious sign. Second, check for paler than usual skin tone that may even appear bluish. Third, see if the texture feels brittle and finally observe to see if your dog shows any signs of discomfort or pain when you grab their feet.
Treat Frostbite in Dogs
Treating frostbite in your pets is very similar to treating it in people. Your first instinct might be to get them as warm as possible, as quickly as you can, but please don’t do that. Too much heat applied rapidly can cause burns and damage. Instead, start slow.
First, warm-up a towel or blanket and wrap their feet. Avoid too much heat or pressure or rubbing. If possible, leave their feet wrapped up as you prepare for the next steps.
Next, use lukewarm, but not cold water on their feet. Then, slowly add warmer water as you bring up the temperature. Resist the urge to rub or scrub to increase circulation as it could cause more harm. Take your time. The feet should redden as they begin to warm up. That’s blood flow returning. If they turn black, it’s time to make an emergency trip to the vet.
Add more warm water and feel the paws every few minutes until they reach an average temperature again. Vitally, if you have any concerns over lasting damage, or if your dog is showing signs of ongoing pain and discomfort, see a vet right away.
For dogs who resist bathtime and don’t like getting their paws wet, I suggest the BaileyBear Collapsible Porta Tubby. It’s perfect for dipping just the feet, and it folds away easily for compact storage. Plus, you can take it anywhere. You can pick one up from Amazon by clicking right here.
You Shouldn’t Always Worry About Cold Paws
Everyone, even your dog, gets cold feet now and then. If your pet is in excellent health and they have no other symptoms, then they may simply have cold feet. Mainly if you haven’t been outside and the floors are a little chilly, then there’s no reason to freak out over cold puppy paws.
Give your favorite Fido a warm place to curl up and warm their toes. It should be sufficient to solve the problem when there’s nothing seriously wrong. Fretting needlessly won’t help you or your dog. You’ll find that sometimes, being more aware of how they feel is enough to prevent simple problems like cold feet.
Pet owners who have wood or other hard floorings should consider putting down a few rugs. Moreover, in the winter, especially I suggest investing in a set of dog shoes. We’ve all seen the silly videos of dogs who are unfamiliar with doggy shoes. As goofy as they look, they also work very well.
Built-In Heating for Paws
Dogs can certainly feel their paws get cold. However, they’re more resilient than humans and many other creatures, like cats. This is because they have a unique circulatory system in place that helps keep their feet warm even in cold winter conditions.
No dog should ever be out in freezing conditions for too long regardless of their natural defenses. Yet their heart is pumping 101 (or more) degree blood into those special paws to help keep them going. Their paw pads have specialized blood vessels to help facilitate foot warming.
Keep your pet’s feet protected with a fantastic pair of Ruffwear Extreme Cold Weather Boots when the season turns chilly. Not only can you avoid any issues with chilled paws when you have to go out in the snow, but you’ll also keep their feet out of any debris or other undesirable spills. Plus, they’re easy to clean, which I love. To get a set, click here.
Bad Circulation in Dog Feet
Bad circulation can cause cold dog paws. When you have an older dog or one who has a delicate constitution and gets sick easily, you should always talk to your vet. Pet owners who know their dogs have preexisting health issues that affect their circulatory system should be especially careful in the colder months.
Dogs with lousy circulation are more prone to cold feet. They may also experience frostbite and hypothermia more quickly than other, healthy dogs. Keep them safe and warm. However, avoid putting in small space heaters and radiators if possible. They can be hazardous to your furry pet, causing burns and other potential health threats.
Protecting Your Dog From the Cold
Too many pet owners jump to hasty solutions like overfeeding to help build winter fat when their dogs get cold feet. It’s never the right choice to overfeed. Still, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect your dog this winter. Boots and even a good doggy jacket can help.
I use the Hurtta Extreme Warmer Dog Winter Jacket for my dogs. It helps keep them warm when we head out in the winter weather. The unique reflective lining is outstanding for keeping body heat in and promoting good circulation in winter. I don’t like to worry about my pets getting too cold. You can find them on Amazon when you click here.
Other important steps to help your dog stay warm this winter include keeping them hydrated. Losing fluids affects their blood flow adversely. It also helps to make sure you moisturize their paws. Snowy areas see a lot of salt on the ground in addition to the snow, but even without it, winters are drier, unfortunately for your pooch that may mean dry, itchy skin and dry cracking paw pads.
Other Winter Tips for Dog Owners
Just because it’s not hot out doesn’t mean you should skip bathtime. Make sure you stay on top of their bathing schedule and groom their fur in winter. A dog’s coat gets thicker as temps drop, so there’s more there in need of your attention.
Always remember to check the projected temps for the day if you plan to be out. A sudden freeze can happen anytime, and no one wants to get caught in a winter storm. Additionally, be picky about where you play. Especially if there’s snow, avoid maintained roads and the areas beside them because of the salt, which will further dry your pet’s paws and skin.
Finally, pay close attention to your dog. If they shiver or indicate that they’re uncomfortable, even a little, get them indoors. Dogs hide the way they feel and may not come whining to you about a problem until it’s already worse than it should be. Merely being mindful could be enough to save yourself a world of worry and help keep your dog healthy.
As responsible pet owners, we have to care for our pups from their heads to their toes. Dog shoes may seem silly, but they’re a great option for helping preserve your pets’ feet. There’s so much they can step in from toxic chemicals like oil from cars to broken glass. Even if the weather isn’t a concern, their feet should be.
Fortunately, we can help our dogs with chapped and split paw pads. Preventative measures are even better. Once you’re sure the cold feet are the only problem, it’s an easy one to solve.
There’s no reason to let your best friend be in pain or uncomfortable. A dog with cold feet needs a place to warm them just like we do.