During cold, snowy Michigan winters, it is important to take extra safety precautions when walking your dog. One part of your dog's body that is difficult to protect from the winter elements is their paws. During the winter, chemical deicers often cover outdoor areas. These deicers cannot only cause painful irritation to your dog's paws, but they can also cause paw chemical burns. In addition, your dog can also accidentally ingest the deicing chemicals and then experience severe gastrointestinal upset.
Read on to learn how to protect your dog's paws from the hazardous chemical deicers that are often used to treat pavement in the winter.
Consider Training Your Dog to Wear Shoes
While dog shoes can protect your dog's paws from the winter elements very well, training your dog to walk in shoes takes time and is a project to tackle slowly.
Start by letting your dog visually inspect the shoes, then give your dog a treat. Next, place one shoe on just one foot for a few seconds, give your dog a treat, then pull the shoe off. Repeat for each dog paw. Repeat this process daily, extending the time the shoe is on each of your dog's paws daily, until your dog gets used to having one shoe on.
Finally, place all booties on your dog and allow them to practice walking around the house. Once they are walking confidently, you can then take them outside and look forward to their paws being well-protected from winter deicers.
Cover Their Paws with Petroleum Jelly or Paw Balm Before Walks
While it is best to avoid walking your dog on areas covered with chemical deicers altogether, there are times when you just may not be able to avoid these areas. Another way to protect your dog's paws from the hazards of these chemical deicers is to cover their paws with petroleum jelly or a paw balm before you walk them.
These products will form a shield between the soles of your dog's feet and the deicers. Just remember that it is best to avoid walking your dog on pavement covered with deicers when your dog's paws are covered with one of these products because the shield they form does not offer impenetrable defense against excessive deicer exposure.
Keep The Fur on Your Dog's Paws Well-Trimmed
While it is important to keep your dog's paws well-groomed year-round, it is especially important during the winter. Chemical deicers can collect in the fur between your dog's paw pads and on the fur around their paws. When this happens, your dog's feet will be exposed to the deicers long periods of time, which can lead to extreme paw irritation.
Also, if you walk your dog on the snow, ice balls can form on the fur between your dog's foot pads. This can make your dog's paws extra cold, which puts them at a higher risk of developing paw frostbite. Also, since dogs are often tempted to chew these balls off, this further increases the chance of chemical deicer ingestion.
Choose a Pet-Safe Deicer For Your Own Property
While you cannot choose the type of deicer applied to a public property you may walk your dog on, you can choose the deicer you apply to your home walkways, driveway, and sidewalk. For dog safety, skip any chemical deicers that contain chlorides, such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride.
Instead, choose one made from a combination of eco-safe glycols and modified crystalline carbonyl diamide. Both ingredients are safer for your dog's paws and less likely to irritate them.
Clean Your Dog's Paws After Exposure to Chemical Deicers
Even if you cover your dog's paws with petroleum jelly or a paw balm before their walk, it is important to clean their paws off after their walk. If you don't, they may lick their paws and ingest any deicing chemicals they encountered while walking.
Follow these steps to protect your dog from the hazards of chemical deicers this winter. Reach out to the staff of Riverfront Animal Hospital if you have any more questions about pet winter safety.