This season’s Snowmageddon dumped an overabundance of the whitestuff and with it, an increased amount of salt, brine mixes and chemicals for combatting slick roads and sidewalks. As a result, veterinarians at NYC’s West Chelsea Veterinary have seen an influx of dogsexperiencing vomiting and even bloody diarrhea. These cases could be an indication city dogs are licking these substances from their paws. Preventable and treatable, West Chelsea Vet’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Michael Farber, has an important message for city dog owners: Prevent potential health issues due to salt and chemical ingestion by cleaning dogs’ paws and pads.
If you dread venturing out into the frozen tundra bundled up in heavy coats and boots, just imagine how your dog feels traversing the
sidewalks bare-pawed and exposed while exploring the city. “They all do it. Dogs sniff, lick and even nibble on just about anything they
discover during city walks. Then, they tend to lick their paws. In doing so, they can ingest the salt, brine mixes and de-icing chemicals the city uses to keep streets ice-free. “Consumption of salt and de-icing chemicals can cause dehydration, serious irritation, ulcers and inflammation in the mouth and digestive tract,” said West Chelsea Veterinary’s Dr. Michael Farber. Simply put, winter can be brutal to your dog’s paw pads. Along with potential health issues caused by ingesting salt, brine mixes and de-icing chemicals, dogs can also encounter drying, cracking, frostbite and chemical to their paw pads. Considering that winter weather is expected to remain in New York City past the first day of spring – which means these substances will remain on roads and sidewalks for several
- 1) Avoid Freshly Salted Sidewalks When Possible: Remember that your dog’s paws are extra sensitive when exposed to cold weather, snow and ice. When you take your dog for a walk, do your best to avoid roads, sidewalks and areas that have been heavily treated with salt, brine mixes and de-icing chemicals.
- 2) Clean Dogs’ Paws with Warm Water: “As a precaution, thoroughly clean your dog’s paws with warm water – or even dip the paws in a tub of warm water – to remove snow, ice, salt, brine mixes and chemicals. Pat dry or even use a hairdryer set on low to dry the paws after washing, Dr. Farber explained. “Also, remember to wash off other areas that have been exposed to the elements (like the underside), especially in small or heavy coated dogs.”
- 3) Doggie Boots a Good Investment (If Your Pet Will Tolerate Them): To make your dog’s winter walks warmer and safer, one option is buying doggie boots. You can find a wide selection of doggie boot options in pet stores and online. Most of these items feature a sock like boot with a Velcro strap to keep them in place. Some offer soles, which provide additional traction.
- 4) Keep Them Moving to Keep Them Warm: Regardless of whether you adorn your dog with boots, or let him frolic with bare paws, remember that animals are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just as people, so make sure you keep them moving while outdoors to keep them warm. Know your dog based on their breed and tolerance for cold. Monitor your dog for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, anxiety and lethargy. Avoid heavily salted sidewalks, if at all possible.
- 5) Encourage Indoor Exercise: It is important to encourage exercise indoors. Even when you are indoors, and it is too cold to spend a lot of time outdoors, you can increase your dog’s physical activity level by playing. For socialization and exercise, consider a local doggie day care for a dog’s day out. Dogs burn energy through hearty activities like chasing a ball through the house or playing tug of war
- with a toy. “Dogs get the winter doldrums just like we do,” Dr. Farber said. “This is why it is beneficial for your dog to get enough exercise, even if you don’t spend as much time outside.”
“Colder months, especially this winter in New York City, require a balancing act for dog owners,” Dr. Farber added. “We must be cautious about washing salt and de-icing chemicals from our dog’s paws, and should make sure they are not exposed to the elements for long, but we also should make sure they get enough exercise to remain happy and content."
About West Chelsea Veterinary: West Chelsea Veterinary was founded in 1997. Our exceptional health care team provides the highest quality of care to our patients and those that love them. We take great pride in our state-of-the-art- facility and our commitment to practicing cutting edge medicine and diagnostics. We are dedicated to giving our clients the guidance they need to make informed decisions with regard to their pet’s health. At West Chelsea Veterinary, we consider each pet to be special and unique, and we will treat your treasured companion with the same caliber of care as we would demand for our own. For more information, visit www.westchelseavet.com or call (212) 645-2767