We just got some snow in the high country of Arizona and many valley residents are eager to take a day trip to go for a winter hike in the snow. If you like us, this will mean bringing your dogs.
I thought this may be a good time to offer up a few winter travel tips for dog owners. These are mostly related to taking your dogs out during cold winter weather and are meant to help those who will travel into areas with snow and ice.
Protect Your Dog's Paws
As you travel with your dog into snow country, remember that streets and sidewalks are often treated with de-icing agents, such as rock salt and other chemicals. When you walk your pet, these will get onto his paws and stomach. They can cause cracked paw pads and irritated skin, which can be rather painful for your dog.
To help prevent this from happening, be sure to clean off your dog's paws and stomach thoroughly after each walk with warm water and dry off completely. Pay particularly close attention to the areas between the pads and toes.
Use a dog paw balm, such as "Musher Secret" to protect your dog's paws. These balms are designed to keep away salt and chemicals and help prevent snow balls from forming on the dog's paws. They also moisturize his pads to ward of cracking.
Dog boots are an even better way to protect your dog's paws from exposure to salt and chemicals. They also help keep his feet warm and dry and help against cuts from ice or other sharp surfaces.
In addition, using dog boots during slushy, muddy conditions helps keep his feet clean and dry. This is great, because you don't have to clean off your dog's feet every time you come back from a walk.
Keep Your Dog Dry and Warm
Groom for Winter Conditions
If your dog does not wear boots, consider cutting his fur around the legs and paws. Long haired dogs can get snow balls that form on the lower part of the legs, underneath the stomach and especially between the paw pads. Trimming of the fur in these areas can help prevent these from forming.
Your dog's natural coat protects him against cold temperatures. You don't want to shave his overall coat in the winter if you spend a lot of time in cold weather. Also consider bathing your dog less in the wintertime. His winter coat has natural oils that protect skin during wet and cold weather and help keep him warm.
Beware of Anti-Freeze
Make sure to bring plenty of water to keep your dog well hydrated during winter walks. Do not use snow melt to hydrate your dog near cities or roadways! Don't let your dog eat the snow near areas where cars may have been parked.
De-icing chemicals and anti-freeze agents can be present in the snow and melt waters and both are dangerous if ingested by your dog! While de-icing chemicals such as rock salt will only upset your dogs stomach if ingested, anti-freeze is a deadly poison to dogs! Be sure to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect he might have ingested anti-freeze.
Here are signs of anti-freeze poisoning:
Be Aware of Thin Ice
I hope you have a wonderful winter season and enjoy the beautiful outdoors with your dogs! Please be sure to check out our YouTube Channel to watch our videos on dog-friendly hikes in the Phoenix area, along with other dog-related subjects.
Here are some of my other posts you might enjoy
How to Pick the Right Dog Boots
How to Prepare Your Dog for Travel
I would love to hear about your winter adventures with your dog. Please comment below or share pictures in our Facebook groups at
AZ Dog Friendly Places or Keep Your Paws on the Road.