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Q. I live in the city, and I see all kinds of deicers being put on the sidewalk in the winter. Will they hurt my dog’s paws? Are they poisonous? How can I keep him safe?
A. While you can use nontoxic deicers on your own property, there’s not much you can do about what your dog walks through in your neighborhood. And yes, some deicers can be toxic if ingested. Even simple salt can irritate paws, getting into the cracks that can show up on chapped pads.
Booties can help minimize exposure to both chemical deicers and salt. They can also protect pads and help older dogs maintain stable footing. They’re an excellent idea for city dogs who simply cannot avoid deicers on their regular potty walks.
For dogs who can't — or won't — wear booties, careful paw maintenance and cleaning is a must. Keeping the hair on the paws — and especially between the pads — clipped super short will help by preventing the buildup of uncomfortable ice balls. When your dog chews to remove the ice balls, he’ll be ingesting any deicers he has walked through. Don’t give him the chance.
Rinse your dog’s paws after every walk through areas where deicers are in use. Get between the pads and make sure everything gets flushed out, then towel dry. It wouldn't hurt to add a moisturizer to dry pads to help them do their job protecting your dog's feet.
If you make a good effort to clean your dog’s paws after walks, any potential problems should be minimal. There are plenty of other health hazards in winter, though, and it's not a bad idea to check them out.
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