Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Snow, Happy Doggie!

Edited to add: Hi! If you don't care to know about this cute dog's story, scroll down a bit and you'll find some information on how to attend to your dog's paws on winter time, and other related stuff. Hope you find the info useful. :)

Moira loves snow. When we first arrived in Italy, last year, I thought that it was just the novelty of scents, sensations, and so on; but yesterday it was all white when we went for our daily walk, and she was so excited!

To which you respond: "But she doesn't look too happy in the picture."

That's true; she's not smiling like in here and here. But you see, usually she's not very helpful when I have a camera in hand. She shifts position, looks somewhere else, or scratches herself right when I'm clicking. By these signs I knew she didn't like much to be photographed, and I commented this with my mother on our walk. So, what did Moira do a few seconds later? She posed to this picture.

"You're exaggerating," you say.

Actually I'm not. My mother had some difficulty to take this picture because of her gloves, and every time she was ready Moira raised her ears the same way we had encouraged her to do many times when taking pictures of her. Besides, when we made those noises that showed our contentment with the picture, the darned thing walked away wagging her tale merrily, as if her mission was accomplished. Can you imagine our reaction? (Hey, don't you snort on me. Do you have a dog anyway?)

In our way back home Moira didn't look so happy anymore. She'd stop frequently to lick her paws, giving me that "help me" look I know so well. When I checked it, there were lumps of ice below her nails and between her foot pads.

This reminded me (look what a random mind I have, heh) of one of the Wheel of Time books, in which Perrin is in the wolf world and running in the snow. I remember the vivid description of how his paws hurt from the clutched ice and the resistance of the snow to his running efforts.

So, when we got home, instead of cleaning the dogs up the usual way, we used warm water to melt the ice stuck in their leg's fur and between their toes; and after giving them water and food I trimmed their nails, the fur in the back of their legs and below the paws.

Afterwards, when the dogs were sound asleep, something else came to mind. Is there some other special care with dog's paws in winter time that I'm not aware of?

With a quick internet research I found this excellent article that I'm summarizing below:

1. What problems to look for:
  • Cracked or sore foot pads, blisters, and infections;
  • Snow (especially wet) clung to long haired dogs, creating slumps of ice, often mixed with rock, salt and gravel, making the walking hurt (when under the paws) or uncomfortable (when on the leg's fur);
  • Intoxication due to de-icing chemicals, rocks and other minerals.
2. How to solve them:
  • Sore foot pads and other related problems are usually caused by sensitivity to cold. Two viable solutions are applying Vaseline or Bag Palm on pads, and considering buying doggy boots for your friend.
  • To the snow clung, do as I did intuitively: a) always wash your friend's paws after outdoor plays, taking care of leaving no traces of salt and other residues, even if there's no apparent crack or other problem; b) trim their nails (long nails make toes spread apart when walking, leaving more room for ice to build up); c) cut the long fur between the toes so that it's even with the pads; and d) trim the fur in the back of their legs;
  • To prevent intoxication, do not let your friend crew away lumps of ice and snow sticking to the paws or hanging from the fur, and don't let it lick the paws before you wash them up, as the rock, salt and chemical products can have toxic effect. If your dog shows any sign of problem, take it to the veterinary right away.
Food poisoning symptoms can be a helpful analogy to identify other types of intoxication: dullness, vomiting, inability to eat and general weakness.

Now, can you fill in the gaps? These seem to be enough information for me here, but I'm all but snow savvy, so you your help is more than welcome. :-)


In my research I came across this wonderful non-profit: Dogs Deserve Better. Will you click on the link and donate? That would be nice. :-D

Their cold weather tips are excellent, but they're not easy to locate among the many information on their main page, so I reproduced them below highlighting the key words to help the reading. Also their frozen to death dog pics are, are... I'm speechless.

1. Keep your dog inside. Outdoors, dogs can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Dogs who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other dogs and wildlife.

2. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

3. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

4. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

5. Never leave your dog alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

6. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

7. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him and his fur in tip-top shape.

8. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

9. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

For you that have read so far, here's a curiosity bonus, a picture of my mother's adorable dog, Iris, the (in)famous intruder:


  1. Thanks for sharing this, I'll keep it in mind should we ever take our pups to the snow. We live in California where our dogs sometimes yelp from hot asphalt and sand.

    Your dogs are beautiful and their shiny coats attest to your loving care of them.

  2. I'm glad this was somehow useful. Thank you for stopping by and letting me know. :-)

    Ah, yes, we do love'em very much. But you know that already, heh.

  3. A Moira posou bem para esta foto, mas o olhar dela diz que não esta ali para ser modelo rs e sim para passear rss

    Ela esta linda...essa foto sera a capa de livro...hein


  4. haha! Só se for um livro sobre as aventuras de inverno dela. Mas só tem uma , então é difícil fazer um livro né? rsrs

    Mas massa que você gostou. Você sabe como é uma grande surpresa ela posando pra uma foto, né? rsrs


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