Braving Winter Weather
This article is for people who are dealing with SNOW. Everybody else can go back to the beach; I am terribly jealous of you. Here in New York snow is an inevitable evil. There are many things we can do in order to keep dogs safe from damaging outdoor conditions. I used to dread braving the snow and ice with my small dogs. What was even worse was the rock salt products that are carelessly tossed onto the streets and the sidewalks to melt the snow and ice. The generic term that I will use when I refer to these salt products will be “rock salt” because sodium and calcium is used for melting snow and ice. There are “pet-friendly” alternatives though to the rock salt. Just to be clear, when I use the term “rock salt” I am NOT referring to the “pet-friendly” products.
Many dogs suffer as a result of walking on rock salt. The chemicals can also burn your dog’s paw pads which is very painful causing some dogs to cry, yelp, and sometimes fall over because of the intensity of the pain. Dogs who ingest enough sodium or calcium from rock salt will poison themselves. Dogs will typically lick their paws to clean and relieve them from the salt residue (which only makes everything worse). If their mouths come in contact with these chemicals the result could be irritations around their mouths. These chemicals are very toxic for dogs. Ingesting enough of these products can cause illness. Some symptoms include vomiting, seizures, and excessive drooling.
Before I knew better about how to protect my dogs from these chemicals, I used to pick them up and dunk their feet up and down into the clean snow to sort of rinse off their paws. This actually helped a lot. I learned which sidewalks used the pet-friendly products which are made to be gentler on dogs.
There are things we can do and products we can use that provide protection and relief to our beloved dogs. If possible, avoid areas where rock salt is used. If you live in metropolitan areas and need to walk your dogs on the sidewalk, try to find areas that use the pet friendly products looks similar to clear rock candy (I don’t know if they still make that stuff so I might be dating myself).
There are products that are more pet friendly. Dogs tend to tolerate the pet friendly products much better than the rock salt. The pet friendly products never appeared to burn my dog’s feet. Safe Paw Ice Melter is one of the pet friendly products that they have been exposed to and my dogs never gave any indication of discomfort when coming in contact with this product or other pet friendly ice melting products.
Rinse your dog’s paws off when you return home. If your dog is too big to pick up and rinse under a sink faucet, you can put him/her into the bathtub and run room temperature water and rinse the that way. A pot of water can do the trick as well. Just dip each foot up to the around ankle area into room temperature water. You can swish the water around a bit as well. Use as much water in the pot as you can because you want to keep the concentration of chemicals in the water as low as possible. After rinsing, wipe feet off with a towel. I an aware that there are wipes that are made for this purpose, but I just don’t feel that wiping a dog’s feet with one of those things really removes much residue. I can’t believe that a wipe can actually absorb all those chemicals and remove them from a dog’s feet. I think it makes us think that their feet are clean, but in reality, I think not.
Booties are a great, but some dogs (particularly some small dogs) seem to feel awkward wearing them. Booties can be uncomfortable on their feet because they might be bulky and. Another point is that dogs can’t feel the ground beneath them because of the padding underneath the booties. My small dogs used to have difficulty walking in them; they walked in a very strange marching manner when they wore them. It took me forever to get them on because they kept pulling their feet out of them. If I was lucky enough to get them on, they would try to nip at them to pull them off.
There is a ingenious product called, Pawz Biodegradable Natural Dog Boots. These boots can be best described as tiny balloons that come in different sizes to fit different size dogs. They are not bulky so my dogs walk more easily in them. They could be a pain in the butt to get on, but they work beautifully. They need to be replaced from time to time, but that’s ok with me.
Musher’s Secret All Natural Paw Protection Wax can be applied to the paw pads prior to braving the harsh outdoor conditions. My only concern is that when a dog comes home, the product (along with those toxic chemicals) are brought inside on the dog’s paws. It helps to shield the paws from the ice melting chemicals and protects the paws from the harsh chemicals and from the snow and ice. Rinsing the wax off requires a little bit more effort. You might need to use a little bit of dog shampoo to remove the Musher’s Secret’s residue, but the product has a balm-like consistency so it is not difficult to clean off.
The pads of your dog’s paws are especially vulnerable to dryness, cracking, and irritation from snow, ice, and harsh chemicals. After cleaning off the winter toxins from their paws, I apply a tiny bit of the Balm onto their pads. There are several balms on the market. A great natural one is Only Natural Pet Soothe & Shield Paw Balm.
I would like to mention that an important key element in keeping paw pads healthy is nutrition. I can usually get a pretty clear idea of the quality of a dog’s diet simply by examining the pads. I have tons of articles about food.
If rock salt is ingested, it is possible for a dog to become poisoned. If your dog is drooling excessively, vomiting, having seizures, or if there are any other symptoms, call the veterinarian right away. You can also reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers at: 1-800-222-1222.