Keep your dog happy and healthy this winter

January 14, 2024

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As the temperature drops, it’s common practice in our towns and cities to use salt to keep the roads and pavements free from ice and snow. Whilst this may be helpful for people, it can cause problems for our four legged friends.

Read on to find out more about the potential hazards and how you can avoid them.

What is road salt?

Road salt is typically composed of sodium chloride, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride. It is used to lower the freezing point of water. When sprinkled on icy roads and paths, it prevents the formation of ice and helps make surfaces safer for vehicles and walkers.

The dangers of road salt for dogs

According to our vets, the most immediate risk for dogs is the irritation road salt can cause to their paws. When dogs walk on salted surfaces, their paw pads can become cracked, dry, and painful. This can lead to discomfort, limping, and sometimes difficulty walking. Road salt is a desiccant, which means it can absorb moisture from a dog’s paws and skin. Extended contact with road salt can lead to dehydration and skin problems.

Ingestion of salt can also cause problems. Dogs and may lick or chew their paws after walking on salted surfaces. In doing so, they can ingest road salt, which is toxic to dogs when consumed in significant quantities. Ingestion of salt may cause stomach upsets, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling and abdominal pain. The most severe risk is salt toxicity, which can occur if a dog consumes a large amount of road salt. This can lead to symptoms such as excessive thirst, tremors, seizures, and, in severe cases, even death.

How to prevent road salt related issues

  1. Protective Paw Balm: Patrick suggests considering using a paw balm or wax to create a protective barrier on your dog’s paw pads before going outside.
  2. Booties: Dog booties provide excellent protection from road salt, keeping paws dry and safe.
  3. Avoid Salted Areas: Whenever possible, avoid walking your dog on salted surfaces. Choose areas with minimal salt use.
  4. Wipe Paws: After walks, wipe your dog’s paws with a damp cloth to remove salt and prevent ingestion.
  5. Indoor Rinsing: Rinse your dog’s paws with warm water when returning home to remove salt residue.
  6. Pet-Friendly Salt: If you need to use salt on your property, choose pet-friendly, non-toxic alternatives.
  7. Supervision: Always supervise your dog when they’re outside, especially around areas treated with road salt.

By taking proactive measures to protect your dog’s paws and avoid salted areas, you can ensure their safety and wellbeing during the winter months. If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health please do get in touch and we will be very happy to advise.

Call us with your concerns

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