Pet paws and dirt from outside

Here in the Midwest, January is cold and usually has a lot of snow, ice, and then slush which is always dirty. If you have pets you know how messy your home can get after taking the dog out during or after a snowstorm. So what do you do to try and prevent a dirty slushy mess inside your home this time of year?

1. Dog Booties

One of the easiest ways to protect your dog’s paws from the elements is by investing in a pair of dog booties.

Northern breeds like Siberian Huskies wear these while mushing on the trail to protect their feet from ice and snow, and they can keep your dog’s paws safe too. It may take a little time for your dog to get used to wearing booties, but with patience and rewards, most dogs adapt just fine.

2. Dog Wipes

Dog wipes or other moist wipes labeled safe for pet use can help clean muddy, sandy, or salty paws quickly, and are convenient to carry in a bag if you’re traveling. You may need to upgrade to a warm, soapy washcloth, however, for serious messes.

3. Bathing

Nothing gets your dog’s paws cleaner than a bath. While you don’t have to completely soak your dog, washing their paws thoroughly to remove dirt or harmful substances like road salt is sometimes the best or only option. If you have a small dog, you may be able to do this over a sink instead of a tub. And you can always try bathing a larger dog’s paws in the tub with a detachable showerhead. Just make sure you dry the paws thoroughly before letting your dog back outside. You can also try a portable paw cleaner made just for the task.

4. Dry Paws with a Towel

If your pet’s feet get wet, but no dirt, salt, or chemicals came in contact with the foot, you can just dry the foot with a towel, Lopes says.

“Make sure you get the pad area of the foot dry,” she says. “Just squeeze each foot a couple of times with a clean towel to get most of the water off if your pet comes in wet from the winter weather.” Use a towel to dry off the feet after a rainy walk or after bathing as well, so Fido doesn’t track water all over the house.

5. Keep Foot Hair Trimmed

For longer-haired breeds, Adler recommends keeping the hair between the pads and around the sides of the foot short to prevent the accumulation of debris.

“I do not recommend trimming your own dog’s pad hair since the skin in the area is very delicate and you do not want to nick a pad,” Adler says. “If owners are comfortable and their dog is compliant, it is OK to trim around the feet or legs, but stay away from the pads and leave that to a professional.” One note of caution: Closely shaving around the pads and toes is not a good idea. “Shaved paws will result in direct exposure to corrosive salt against the bare skin, causing irritation that will induce the dog to lick and clean its paws,” says Ming Liddle, owner of A Cut Above Pet Stylists in New York City.

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