Snow brings with it plenty of fun events: skiing, sledding, building snowmen, snowball fights. However, Veterinarians say it can also bring with it serious health concerns to pets, especially dogs. If you’ve ever seen a dog hopping or limping down a snowy sidewalk, whimpering at the heels of their human, the culprit is very likely rock salt (sodium chloride).
Chicago winters are especially harsh. We vacillate between warm winter days and polar vortex storms. When the snow begins, people are quick to throw down the rock salt. It is a necessary evil. Rock salt helps melt down snow and give traction. As it melts, the salt-water slush resulting from the melting of snow the salt crystals can attach to the animal’s paw pads and cause irritation and burning. It can also lead to inflammation, soreness, and bacterial infections.
Rock salt is doubly dangerous to dogs. They may end up licking their paws in an effort to remove the discomfort between their paws. Ingesting rock salt can cause vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, seizures, erratic behavior, disorientation, extreme tiredness, an unnaturally intense third, or excessive drooling or salivating. If you see any of these warning signs, call your vet if you suspect there is a problem. Your vet will likely deliver intravenous medication/fluids and monitor your pet to ensure the condition does not worsen. In extreme cases, dogs could even slip into comas or die as a result of ingesting too much sodium chloride.
While we can’t avoid the snow completely, veterinarians recommend two items to help our furry friends through the salted paths: booties or balms.
Dogs will fight booties tooth and nail at first, but the best way to avoid damage to a dog’s paw pads are booties. The brands and fabrics vary greatly from waterproofed and waxed to rubber and one time use.
If your pet is reluctant to go through the ritual of suiting up with coat and booties, a project akin to dressing a fussing toddler, then balm might be the best way to protect their paws. Musher’s Secret brand paw balm comes highly recommended by vets. The use isn’t limited to the harsh winter’s either; it can also be used during heatwaves to avoid damage to paws on hot pavement.
Veterinarians also recommend buying pet friendly non-chemical salt for your walkways, especially if you have pets or simply wish to reduce the risks to an unsuspecting pet’s paws.
A veterinarian’s work is never done. Williams & Nickl has represented thousands of licensed professionals and their licensed business entities who face issues with IDFPR. If you find yourself in such a situation, Williams & Nickl can provide the help you need.