Winter Paw Protection for Dogs

Cold winter weather means lots of dry noses and cracked paws for the pups, but excellent paw protection products are available to help.  Moisturizing healing creams made with pet-friendly ingredients can be applied once or twice daily (or as needed) to prevent snouts and pads from getting overly dry, inflamed, or infected.  Not only are such creams safe if licked off by your pet, you can use these products on your own dry hands, feet, and elbows with excellent results.

Dr. Harvey’s Organic Healing Cream is a blend of organic shea butter and herbal extracts that protects the skin while healing cracks and minor abrasions.  Keep a jar in your pet’s first aid kit to help heal hot spots, cuts, or other minor skin injuries too.  Cain & Able’s Paw Rub combines coconut oil with several other plant-based oils and butters for a soothing balm that locks moisture inside skin without the use of petroleum.

Don’t forget to support your pet’s skin health nutritionally from the inside by adding a high-quality fish oil supplement to food daily.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil support cell membrane integrity, and strong cell membranes are needed to maintain the moisture content of cells and tissues.  Our preferred fish oil brands for pets are Nordic Naturals and Iceland Pure.  Both are distilled to high levels of purity to remove environmental toxins and reduce odor.

For physical protection against the cold, heat, or rough terrain, get your pet a set of Dog Mocs. Made in the USA of natural deerskin leather, Dog Mocs are durable, flexible, and comfortable, and they look great too.  They’re warm during the winter, breathable during the summer, and an excellent barrier against the elements.  (Discounts are available for active military and law enforcement personnel looking to outfit their dogs with nature’s best paw protection!)

Dog Mocs Paw Protection

Dog Mocs provide paw protection against cold, heat, rain, snow, and rough terrain.

Tips to Help Dry Skin in Pets

Dry, flaky skin is a common problem for humans in this drought-ridden desert state, and dogs and cats suffer from it too.  As unattractive as it may be, it’s not just a cosmetic concern, especially for our pets.  Dry, itchy, irritated skin is more prone to bacterial and fungal infections, and also makes your pet more susceptible to parasites such as fleas and ticks.  Here are some things you can do to combat dry skin in pets:

Feed a Good Quality Diet

Skin health and coat quality are often the first to suffer when a pet isn’t getting its nutritional needs met.  Feeding an all-natural, species-appropriate diet made with quality animal-based proteins instead of cheap fillers will help ensure your pet is getting easily assimilated nutrients for building and maintaining supple skin and soft fur.  Pet food ingredients to always avoid:  corn, wheat, soy, by-products, unnamed meats, high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars, propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Well Hydrated

Fresh water should always be available for your pet.  Encourage drinking by placing multiple bowls around the house, and consider investing in a fountain to keep water as fresh and enticing as possible.  Increase water intake by including high-moisture foods such as canned food, raw food, and rehydrated freeze-dried food in the diet.  This is especially important for cats, who don’t have a strong thirst mechanism and can be subclinically dehydrated if fed only dry kibble.

Supplement with Fish Oil

Iceland Pure and Nordic Naturals fish oil for pets

Iceland Pure and Nordic Naturals fish oil products for pets

Fish oil helps to condition and moisturize the skin from the inside out.  Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component of cell membranes, and strong cell membranes are needed to maintain the water content of cells and tissues.  Please note that it is important to give your pets fish oils rather than plant-sourced oils (such as flax or olive) because dogs and cats do not efficiently convert the long-chain fatty acids in plant oils into the beneficial forms (DHA and EPA) they can utilize[Our highly recommended fish oil brands for pets:  Iceland Pure and Nordic Naturals.]

Add Body Guard Food Supplement to Meals

Protec Body Guard

Protec Body Guard food supplement for dogs and cats

Protec Body Guard is chock-full of fantastic ingredients to improve any pet’s diet and overall health, but two ingredients in particular support skin health:  lecithin and choline chloride.  Lecithin is a dry source of fatty acids and phospholipids that help maintain cell membrane integrity.  Choline is an important building block in many cellular molecules, and is a component of the structural phospholipids that are abundant in cell membranes.

Be Gentle to Your Pet’s Skin

Use only gentle, all-natural shampoos and conditioners that are free of harsh chemicals and detergents, which can strip natural oils from the skin, leading to dryness and irritation.  Look for products that contain natural moisturizers such as oatmeal, aloe, or neem.  Too-frequent bathing can overdry the skin, so use grooming wipes or waterless shampoos to remove surface dirt from the coat as needed.

The Difference Between Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food

Declan a Great Dane Puppy

Declan, a gorgeous Great Dane puppy, eats an “all life stages” dog food with appropriate calcium and phosphorus levels for growing a large-breed puppy to healthy adulthood.

Q: What is the difference between puppy food and adult dog food?

A.  Pet foods that are marketed in the United States as being “complete and balanced” must meet nutritional standards set by AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials.  AAFCO has defined only two nutrient profiles for dogs: “adult maintenance” (for adult dogs with normal activity levels), and “growth and reproduction” (for puppies and pregnant or lactating females).

The nutrient profile for “growth and reproduction” is more stringent and requires higher minimum levels of protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and chloride.  Foods that have only met the minimum nutrient requirements for “adult maintenance” will be labeled as such.  Foods that have met the minimum nutrient requirements for “growth and reproduction” are considered suitable for all life stages of dogs, and may be labeled either as a “puppy food” suitable for “growth and reproduction,” or as a dog food which is suitable for “all life stages.”

Please note that while a statement of AAFCO compliance indicates a particular food meets the minimum industry standards for nutritional content, it in no way indicates the quality of the ingredients used to make that food.  Carefully review the ingredient panel of any food before you purchase it!


[NOTE:  Jeff Smith & Lisa McKitrick of Boofy’s Best for Pets originally answered this question in the “Ask the Pet Pros” section of Albuquerque The Magazine‘s June 2011 issue.]