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Paws-itively Freezing!

I’m a bit of a free spirit, so I don’t usually go for coats and sweaters and other clothing made for dogs, but these cold snaps we’ve been experiencing have me reconsidering. As long as I keep moving I’m okay, but the icy cold pavement and sand have taken a toll on my paws. My right front paw in particular is red, raw and cracked.

My mom has been putting Vaseline on my paws at night and before we go out for walks and that has helped. And we are limiting our walks to 20 minutes on really cold days. I was determined not to wear booties, but my resolve in weakening.

I’m not the only one with suffering paws. A golden retriever friend of mine told me a true story that will make your tail curl. He was out walking one cold morning and he stepped in a puddle and before his paws could dry, he accidentally stepped on some frozen dog poop and the poop froze to his paws. Gross right!

Well enough with the horror stories. Here are some tips on how to keep your dog’s paws warm and comfy this winter. I found these suggestions on in the “pets” section.

Keep your dog’s paws dry and clean whenever possible. Bring a towel on walks or be sure to wipe their feet as soon as you get back home. If necessary, rinse their feet with water to remove ice, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals. These can irritate their skin and cause cracking. If you use de-icing chemicals on your steps or walkway, be sure to buy one that is safe for pets. They are readily available and are clearly marked on the label.

Limit bathing and increase brushing. Excessive washing will dry out your dog’s skin, so limit the number of times you bathe your dog in the winter. Brushing on the other hand will promote blood circulation and improve skin health.

Rub paws with petroleum jelly before and after walks. Petroleum jelly is a safe and easy solution to dry paws in the winter. Plus, it’s probably something you have in the bathroom cabinet already. Massage a little on each foot before you leave the house. Then when you get home, wipe your dog's feet and reapply.

Drink water. Lots of water. In the hot summer months it’s easy to remember to drink water. Everywhere you turn there’s a cold bowl of water. It’s just as important in the winter for your dog to drink plenty of water. It keeps them hydrated and their skin healthy.

If you tried all this and your dog is still suffering from dry paws, go ahead and get them two pairs of booties. Don’t let them be a slave to fashion. But in all seriousness, if you notice your dog’s paws are raw or cracked and simple remedies aren’t helping, contact your vet for alternative solutions.

J Dawg, who voices the paws-on-the-ground perspective of island life, is created by Janet Forest, owner of Nantucket Pet Sitter, which you can follow on Facebook, too.