Santa Claus has come to town, Frosty the Snowman is here to stay, and our dear friend, Old Man Winter is officially here! And with his return out comes the salts for snowmelt on the streets, sidewalks, walkways, and parking lots. So while even a trip to the park, nature preserve, beach is safe, getting there isn’t always the cleanest and best for our dogs.
Did you know the rock salts use to de-ice the streets and walkways are made of compounds that can burn our dogs paws and also cause tummy issues. Compounds like Magnesium Chloride, Potassium chloride, sodium chloride, Sodium acetate and glycols (used in antifreeze) aren’t meant for our pets pads on their feet or for their tummy.
Just like most salt-based ice melters, rock salt contains either potassium chloride or sodium chloride. When exposed to ice, low temperatures, and water, these two compounds can reach temperatures of up to 175 degrees! THAT’s HOT! And, in most cases, the white pellets sit on snow and ice for considerable time before penetrating which means, when your pet walks over them, the crystals may get attached to the animals’ paw pads thus causing irritation or burning.
Depending on the condition of your dog’s feet, walking across rock salt can be anywhere from unpleasant to downright excruciating. Check to make sure he’s not limping at any time when you’re out walking in the winter. If his skin is cracked and broken, the agony will be even worse because he’s literally having salt rubbed into his wounds.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your dog avoid pain and injury. Before you head out on to the streets, treat your dogs paws/pads by rubbing them with a thin coat of balm. Many of our retailers sell wax-based moisturizing balms or salves that are specifically designed to protect his paws.
And, what’s cuter than a dog wearing booties? These slip-on shoes (my favourite come from Ruff Wear) have a velcro strap to keep them in place – just be sure not to make them too tight. Some dog booties also have tread surfaces on the soles to give him extra traction in slippery conditions. Your dog will need a little while to get used to walking in his new shoes, so let him wear them around the house for short periods before he goes outside in them for the first time (if you do get booties, please take a video and send it to us for smiles). Make sure to give him plenty of praise (not laughter) as he makes the adjustment.
If your dog is a Long-haired breed make sure to have regular trims around his feet to prevent bits of ice and water containing de-icer to become stuck in their fur.
Outside of sand and gravel, there really are no safe options for our pets when it comes to rock salt.
Yes, it’s true there are some that are labeled “pet safe” but that mostly just means they have round the edges of the salt so that it doesn’t cut your dog's paw, but the burning aspect still exists along with the ability to cause intestinal irritations.
And finally, when you're out for an excursion, keep your dog away from puddles and prevent him from eating snow that might contain harmful ingredients.
Please remember to wipe your dog's paws after each walk, I actually prefer to put each foot in a warm bath with a small amount of Kin + Kinds Argan Shampoo and soak each foot and then apply their nose and paw moisturizer for extra protection.
But, most of all have fun, playtime in the snow is a giant playground for our dogs (and you too)!