Winter weather is settling in over the northern part of the country. With it, comes the beauty of another change of the seasons, the first snowfall and plummeting temperatures. It also means icy, slippery streets and sidewalks. To increase traction and footing on these thoroughfares, municipalities, stores and homeowners apply road or sidewalk salts to these areas to make them safer for travel.
Unfortunately, these products can be harmful to our canine friends in a couple of ways. First, these salts can be very irritating to your dog’s feet. You may want to consider a set of protective boots for your dog if contact with road or sidewalk salt is unavoidable. I would also recommend that you rinse and dry your dog’s feet when they come indoors. There are also several foot ointments and emollients available that can be applied to a dog’s foot pads to rejuvenate them after they have been exposed to road or sidewalk salt.
Secondly, ingesting these salts can cause stomach irritation, vomiting and electrolyte imbalances that can lead to some serious health issues. These salts can be composed of a variety of different compounds: sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate. Some melting agents may contain urea, which is very high in nitrogen. Dogs taken outside where these salts are being applied should be supervised and prevented from ingesting these salts. If your dog has ingested any amount of these salts, I would recommend that you consult with your veterinarian.
I certainly would like to see dogs continue to exercise during the winter months. Dog owners just need to be aware of these possible situations and take the necessary precautions. If you have a dog, you may want to use a nontoxic ice-melting product for the areas around your home. If your dog’s paws have become irritated because of contact with these salts or he has consumed any of these salts, I would strongly recommend that you contact your veterinarian.
Please enjoy this time of the year but be safe.
- Helpful Winter Products for Dogs – Discover how you can help keep your dog more comfortable, safe and entertained during the cold winter months.
- Cold Weather Care For Your Dog – Watch this video with veterinarian Dr. Scott McKay for tips to keep your dog healthy and safe.
- Dog’s Feet: Tips For Winter Paw Care – Find out how you can help your dog’s feet deal with the cold during the winter months.