Clancy Aussie Doodles

We are a Family Breeder of Multi-Generation Authentic Australian Labradoodles

Making Snowy Weather Safer for Dogs

on November 10, 2011

The snow is lovely, white, and deep – but it does present its challenges. First there are the puddles of antifreeze everywhere the eye can see. Everybody knows this bright-green leakage from automobiles is both extremely attractive and deadly to dogs, giving new meaning to the term “sickeningly sweet.” Ingestion of sweet-tasting antifreeze causes K9 kidney failure, so wintertime dog-walks bring the added challenge of staying one step ahead of green puddles.

Ingestion isn’t the only way for a pet to become intoxicated by antifreeze; it can also be absorbed through the paw-pad skin, so don’t let Spot lick at or step in the green stuff.

There is a pet-safe alternative. The deadly component of traditional antifreeze is ethylene glycol, but the safer alternative – Sierra – uses that chemical’s less-toxic cousin, propylene glycol, as its active ingredient. Sierra costs about a dollar more per gallon than traditional, toxic antifreeze, but a 50/50 mix of Sierra and water will protect a car’s engine to -26 degrees Fahrenheit. (For greater protection, simply increase the ratio of antifreeze to water.)

Obviously one can only conrol one’s own car, not the millions of other vehicles driving through and around one’s home town. So do your best to avoid dogs making any contact with this deadly chemical.
Compounding the challenge of a wintertime dog-walk are the tons snow-melting chemical “salt” being poured everywhere: on roads, sidewalks, and even building stoops. While some dogs are able to walk bravely through salt-crusted concrete, others stop, hold up a paw, and give you a truly pitiable look. That salty stuff is extremely corrosive – it even eats away at metal, so just imagine how it feels on a dog’s sensitive paw-pads.

Then there’s my dog Dan. So much for “stoic” pit bulls: This poor creature is a tenderfoot who literally cries out in pain when rock salt makes contact with his paws. (And, wouldn’t you know, he won’t tolerate having booties strapped to his feet; talk about a dilemma!)

Rock salt contains sodium chloride or potassium chloride, which can heat up to 175 degrees when exposed to water, ice, and low temperatures. So, when your dog steps in this stuff, he literally feels a burn – and if the salt is not washed off his poor feet, it will continue burning, causing skin ulcers that can become infected.

Paw_PlungerThoroughly washing and wiping a dog’s paws after each salty walk is a must. Keep some warm water and a stack of old towels by your entrance door, dedicated to this chore. (Or check out the PawPlunger.) If you don’t, your dog will take matters into his own paws and get busy licking his feet clean like a cat – and in so doing, he’ll likely give himself a nice case of the runs, because those salty chemicals are known to cause digestive upset.

If you’ve done due paw-wipe diligence but Spot still licks furiously at his feet after an outing in dismal urban snow, try applying a small amount of Neem oil, which is excellent for treating temperature and chemical burns (just be careful to do this in the kitchen, where the floor is easy to wipe clean, as Neem is extremely oily).

Repeat as often as necessary; Neem is a natural, non-toxic extract, taken from a relative of the mahogany tree, that’s used in grooming products for pets and people. A little Neem goes a long way, and even one application does wonders to condition and moisturize pets’ paw-pads – which is very helpful, as dry, cracked paw-pads soak up more street nastiness.

Safe_PawIf you have any influence with your building’s management, you can try convincing them to use Safe Paw Ice Melter, which is pet-safe, child-safe, and effective enough to be used at airports. Safe Paw’s bluish-green beads have a crystalline amide core infused with special glycols. The liquid component starts melting ice, then the crystal core destabilizes the ice to speed up melting. Safe Paw even attracts solar heat for extra melting power during daylight hours!

Do you have any helpful survival tips for wintertime walks with Spot? Please share them in the comments!

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