Winter is here, and you may be asking yourself how to look after my dog’s paws?
I’m not complaining when it’s cold and icy! At least it’s still sunny, and crispy morning walks are definitely more pleasant than daily mud baths 😂. In the countryside, I welcome dry and icy days because the dogs come back from their walks relatively clean.
Salt and grit and paws
Back when I used to live in town and took my dogs for their winter walks the roads were quite icy. I was always concerned, with there being no grit on the road, that I was going to fall. The other worry was that if there was salt on the roads and pavements, that it would irritate my dogs’ paws.
You see when the temperature drops below 0 °C water freezes into ice. Making the pavements and roads slippery and dangerous.
The reason salt is used is that when it dissolves in water it lowers the water’s freezing point. As a result, the water remains a liquid even at temperatures below 0 °C. This process doesn’t work, however, when the ice is already completely solid as salt can obviously only dissolve in a liquid.
Road salt is made from rock salt that is derived from underground mines and then crushed. The rock salt is treated with an anti-caking agent. It’s preventing the formation of lumps and making it easier to pack and transport.
Did you know that although rock salt is coarser than table salt it’s still made from sodium chloride? By the way…have you used road salt (sometimes even table salt) at the front of your doors in winter when the temperature drops?
Pause and think of paws
With all this in mind, how would you feel walking with your bare feet that have a few cracks on your heels on salty (never mind cold) roads? Why is it any different when it comes to our dogs?
Small, delicate doggies, such as the Chihuahua and other toy breeds, are known for their sensitive paws. Just the same, lean dogs, like Greyhounds, Whippets, and similar breeds are also more likely to have sensitive paws.
On the other hand, dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Spitz-like dogs, and Pastoral breeds have paws that are hardier and more ‘outdoorsy’. Although this is true we should still keep an eye on their paws too.
If you’ve ever had cracked skin on your hands, you know how it feels if you have to wash dishes, do housework or bathe your dog. Even worse is if you’re a dog groomer where the constant dryness and cracks become very uncomfortable and even painful 🙈. Now imagine putting salt on your cracked hand… OUCH! The reason why it stings is that the salt dissolves which causes the fluid surrounding the damaged tissue to become extremely hypertonic. Meaning that the concentration of salt and other electrolytes is higher than it is in normal body fluids. Pain detecting neurons have their receptors in the tissue. And they respond to the stimulus i.e. the hypertonic fluid surrounding the damaged tissue.
Our dogs can suffer from the same problem on their paws. Just as we can suffer from sore, dry cracks on our hands or feet.
By using Vita Canis Paw Butter, which is deeply moisturising and nourishing, you’ll help to create a barrier on your dog’s paws. This semi-solid whipped butter with essential oils is formulated for dry cracked paws, noses, and elbows. 100% natural, vegan, and cruelty-free, Paw Butter has a pleasant earthy aroma, is lick-safe, and contains no synthetic ingredients and fragrances.
It’s not only the salt that bothers our dogs’ feet though. The various chemicals and sand that are added to the salt, providing us with more friction for our boots and cars, contribute as well. These chemicals act as skin irritants and can cause dryness thereby irritating the skin in between their pads. And if this isn’t enough! If your dog takes to licking his paws after walks on this surface he can digest the ice-melting chemicals which can be toxic 😱!
Wash, wipe & check
You can see why it’s very important to wash or wipe your dog’s feet as soon as you get home from a walk. Remove the salt and other chemicals from your dog’s paws as soon as possible. Do this before he has a chance to lick them!
After a thorough wash, check your dog’s paws and pads for cracks, minor cuts, and even small particles of salt or gravel stuck in his hair or in between his pads. If you find any scratches or scrapes an application of Vita Canis Soothing Antiseptic Spray can help.
Soothing Antiseptic Spray is an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic treatment that provides relief from scratches, minor wounds, and hot spots. It has a regenerative effect on damaged skin, doesn’t sting, and is safe for sensitive and allergy-prone skin.
Although this might all sound scary please don’t let it deter you from walking your dog and enjoying the time together. Come rain, sun, snow, or ice your furry friend will appreciate your attention and the exercise… whatever the weather.