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Jack needs help

He needs your help. I don’t know how to help him.

Jack's snowballs-1

He’s the third dog that I’ve owned that with this issue and I haven’t known how to help any of them. I’ve tried a few strategies, none successful, so I’m turning to you. Have you had an animal with similar problems? If so, have you figured out how to either prevent or solve it?

Jack's snowballs-2

Have you seen the problem in the first two photos? If not, the third is totally clear. When the snow is wet and heavy, the kind of snow that would make good snowballs or snowmen, Jack’s feet make snowballs as he walks, eventually growing big enough to pull on his hair.

Jack's snowballs-3

These snowballs gather and get bigger as he walks. I find it curious that the snowballs aren’t gathering on his back feet; on my previous dogs the problem was with all 4 feet.

I’ve tried boots, which he definitely dislikes. Plus since his legs are so thick, it’s almost impossible to get them tight enough that he doesn’t lose them. On previous dogs I’ve tried lifting them into the sink or tub and using warm water to quickly melt off the snow. None of us liked that. I’ve tried keeping the hair on the legs really short. Not a good plan in the winter either, especially with someone like Jack who gets cold rather easily.

So readers, what are your suggestions to help this little guy?

16 comments to Jack needs help

  • Oh the poor guy. Sorry I don’t have a solution – when we lived back east it would happen to our dog but not out west – maybe it has to do with how wet or dry the snow is? That dog was a cocker/lab mix with long hair on her legs and feet but she lived both east and west and it didn’t happen out here. All other dogs out here have also had long hair and it didn’t happen so I’ve always thought it was the kind of snow, wetter or drier.

    • Peg Cherre

      Cindie – I think it’s a combination of the kind of snow and the kind of hair the dog had. My 2 prior dogs with the issue were a cocker spaniel and a lowchen. When it’s cold enough out that the snow wouldn’t stick together to make snowballs, it doesn’t really stick to Jack’s fur, either. At least not much. But if the temperature is in the high 20s or low 30s, that snow is sticky for sure. Couldn’t sled or ski on it, and that’s when Jack has the biggest problem. Plus when it’s colder he just doesn’t like it outside and gets his job done quickly. 🙂

  • Charlene

    When in Alaska, saw booties that the sled dogs would wear in the snow. Would Jack let you put them on? It was canvas weight synthetic fabric as I recall.

    • Peg Cherre

      I’ve tried boots, Charlene. I had a dog who liked them so I have some, but Jack does not. Plus he has such big feet and legs that it’s hard for me to fasten boots on in a way that they will stay. At least not the boots I already have.

  • Alma

    Poor Jack!

    Dip him in paraffin for the winter months!

    Would any sort of lotion on his legs before going out make the snow less likely to stick? Can silicone enter into the equation in any way? What about that bear grease stuff for waterproofing boots? Is there something that can be used without being toxic to him?

    What if his winter fabric coat had leggings attached to it?

    Man – I’ve got ideas, but I’m not sure there’s anything profitable in them. Maybe they’ll spark an idea in someone else?

    • Peg Cherre

      Alma – I fear that anything I put on his legs will either be bad for him to lick or will just make things worse, causing the leg hair to stick to itself. The leggings attached to his coat? I rather like that idea, actually. Would take some real engineering, but I can at least think about it.

  • Mary

    My Jasper (Lhasa poodle mix also) has the same problem when conditions are just right (or wrong). My solutions is to squeeze the snow balls with my hands or use a hair dryer. Neither really works very well. We just don’t venture out for very long at those times. Come to think of it it’s been quite a while since this happened.

    • Peg Cherre

      Yes, Mary, I’ve done both of those, too, also with limited-to-no success. Jack knows the rules: in the morning he’s out until he both pees and poops. In the afternoon and at night he need only pee. He tells me quite clearly when he’s done. 🙂 Our usual morning walks are about 3/4 mile, but when he doesn’t want to be outside, sometimes it’s a few hundred feet and he’s done. 🙂

  • Amanda

    Check these out:

    https://www.k9topcoat.com/product.asp?specific=jnnriqo8

    http://www.musherssecret.net

    Also consider googling dog snowsuit. It’s amusing if it doesn’t end up being helpful.

    • Peg Cherre

      Amanda – I’d looked at Mushers Secret, but it’s really not going to help the snowballs. It’s really for the foot pads. It never occurred to me to look for dog snowsuit, or the K9Topcoat. All interesting…and some funny for sure.

  • Booties may not work, but how about socks as gaiters or some home sewn ripstop nylon ones? His paws will still feel the ground and his leg hair protected. If he gets cold easily maybe a a recycled and felted pair of wool socks?with one of those clips they use for kids mittens so they don’t lose them. I’m betting he has pretty silky hair down there. An undercoat would hold the heat in better and you might have less clumping. Or like the broom guy in curling, you could sweep a snow free path for him? 😉

    • Peg Cherre

      I think your idea of gaiters is interesting, Theresa, and may just fit the bill, although I think Jack would prefer that the I was the curling sweeper 🙂 Especially since when I googled it to get the term right, I learned that the reason for the sweeping is to heat up the ice – double benefit to Jack!

      Actually, it’s the undercoat that tends to mat and/or gather snowballs. Very light and downy.

      Anyway, I will try to find some of those kids’ mitten clips, and then making him something out of repurposed materials.

  • Polina

    You can try to pulverize a lanolin on his hair.
    You can find clean natural lanolin in a pharmacy, like a Lansinoh for breast-feeding women from Medela for example. (It can be eaten by newborns 🙂 so it is safety for dogs, i am sure).
    Just take a little lanolin, put it in the hot but not too hot (not boiling!) water and shake it well, when it will be warm pulverize on problem parts, or use a little brush, and wait till it will be dryed.
    Make a little water-lanolin mix, just for one use.
    You can also try to put lanolin by hands. The hands must be very warm for it.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, Polina! Never would have thought of this as an option, so I appreciate your suggestion. I wonder if Jack will let me pulverize lanolin into his legs? If he does, will I have to do this every time, or does it last for a while?

  • Elizabeth Taylor

    You could clip his feet like a poodle & use leggings over the leg hair. The hair would only be clipped up to his top knuckle but it would save the hair from being freezing in the snow. The plus side of the snowballs on his legs is that it acts as an insulation from the cold so in effect its doing a job of keeping him warm. Just rinse him with warm water when you get home & it takes off any salt off his skin & dirt that also collects.

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