Prepare Yourself With Our Dog Winter Essentials
Winter has arrived along with snow and ice. Big Paws Inc. has preventative measures to insure you and your dog get through winter without complications.
ROAD SALT vs. SAND
Have you noticed when you take your dog for a walk in winter, after a certain period of time, your dog starts picking up its feet, or holding its feet up when not in movement? This is due to your dog’s paws being exposed to snow, ice and road salts. Your dog picking up its feet is an indicator that its paws are sore and/or cold.
Now, what is it about road salt that’s making your dogs paws uncomfortable and sore?
Here’s a break down of what road salts are made of. Road salts are composed of: chloride combined with sodium, calcium, magnesium or potassium. Unlike the salt we consume, they may contain heavy metals depending on the manufacturer. Road salts are toxic to dogs; they’re considered an irritant and are increasingly recognized as an environmental toxin. In August 2000 Environment Canada completed a five-year study of the effects of road salts concluding that they are toxic to the environment. Dogs suffer from painful burning and cracked-dried out pads. When they lick their feet, they ingest the salt, which could lead to further internal irritation in the mouth and digestive track. Veterinarians routinely treat cases of poisoning and painful skin and jaw lesions that are caused by salts. Here at Big-Paws we care about the wellbeing of your dog and that is why we ONLY use sand. Sand is a great alternative to road salts, its safe for your dog and it is environmentally friendly. We suggest you encourage the people in your neighborhood to use sand as well, so that your neighborhood is a “paw-friendly” area to walk your dog.
PROTECTING YOUR PET FROM THE COLD
Just like us, dogs are more susceptible to illness during the winter, especially for dogs with no undercoat, that have thin or no hair (Great Danes, Greyhounds, American Bulldogs). Protecting your dog from the cold is especially important in older dogs, struggling with arthritis, and dogs with minimal body fat that does not suffice as insulation. Putting a coat on your dog will keep it warm protects its internal organs from the cold, and blocks out the rain, snow and gusty winds. Take into consideration, that if it is too cold, take your dog out only for bathroom breaks, also be aware of its ears, to avoid frostbite. A good indicator that your dog is cold, is if the poor thing is constantly shivering. This means you will have to take measure to keep your dog warm. Always be aware of the breed of dog you have and its tolerance of extreme weathers. Breeds that are well adapted to cold climates are Alaskan malamutes, Saint Bernards, Siberian huskies and Chow chows for example. Also take into consideration, that if you have a dog with a long coat and you cut it shorter than its natural length, your dog will need some sort of protection against the cold since you’ve removed it.
PROTECTING YOUR DOGS PAWS
To protect your dog’s paws from the snow and road salts, we recommend that you maintain their nails short, it will provide better traction for them on ice, if your dog has long nails it will make your dog’s toes splay out (spread) allowing more snow, ice and salt to get stuck between your dog’s toes. And if your dog has a long coat, keep the hairs short at the bottom of their paws to prevent buildup of ice balls in and around its pads. A couple of things that we recommend to protect your pet’s paws are dog boots or Vaseline.
Dog boots is a good way to protect your dog’s paws from the winter elements, but you might encounter difficulties with your dog wanting to use boots, as it can be an awkward experience for them, after some time though your dog can get accustomed to them. For others a great option if you do not want to put boots on your dog is Vaseline. Before you head out for your walk, apply Vaseline all over your dog’s paws and in between its toes, it’s a great salt barrier to avoid any burns or lacerations. Also when you return home from your walk, have a towel ready to wipe your dog’s paws with warm water, to get any leftover Vaseline out and any salt or debris that could be stuck on your dog’s paws. Dogs lick their paws to clean them; cleaning them will prevent ingestion of the road salts which are toxic to them.
Posted by: Kevin Uhindu