Protecting your dogs paws this winter
Currently here in Jersey we are getting hit with a new snow storm almost every day. This beautiful winter snow is like a big, fluffy white playground for a Siberian Husky. Their thick double coat insulates and protects from freezing cold temperatures. Their almond shaped eyes help protect them from the brightness of a white winter wonderland. However what is not very protected is their paws.
While huskies absolutely love to be outside and active in the snow, owners must be aware of how hazardous ice melting salt can be to a dogs paws. Ice melting salt, sometimes called road salt is great for melting icy snow and providing traction but it can cause your dogs paws severe pain. Many ice melt salt products contain toxic chemicals like calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and ethylene glycol.
Ice melting agents can irritate your dogs paws and skin and cause cracking and dryness. The salts can also get stuck in-between their paws, causing discomfort and making it difficult to walk. I have seen this first hand with my schnoodle. This is common with products containing calcium chloride or magnesium chloride (which is almost all ice melt products). Signs include chaffed, cracked, or bleeding paws or paws with red, or inflamed skin around the edges. Watch out for behavioral signs as well such as reluctance to walk, lifting up their paws as if the ground is hot, excessive licking of their paws or vocal signs of pain. In severe cases ice melting agents can cause burns on the pads of a dogs paws.
There are non-toxic products marked as "pet safe" and sold specifically to avoid skin irritation in pets. Although these products are not completely safe because there is always a chance of ingestion and irritation if your dog is more sensitive than others, products like Safe Paw are a much better alternative if you do need an ice melting solution.
However we at Cold Mountain feel as though the best protection and treatment for your dogs paws is just to apply a small amount of Bag Balm to the bottom of their paws. You can do this before they go outside and after they come back in a couple times a day. You can pick up Bag Balm at Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart or on Amazon for about $8. Also be sure to keep your dogs paws clean if they have stepped in salt by simply dipping them in a bucket of warm, soapy water and wiping clean with a towel.
Keeping your dogs paws clean and protected will ensure they have a healthy and happy outdoor experience!