Love it or leave it, our dogs and we have to deal with it. Here are some tips from Brooklyn Bark dog walkers for safety through the snow.
(note: for fun in the snow with you pup check out Being a Dog in Winter in Brooklyn)
1 - BEWARE OF SALT:New York City - and most municipalities - use the least expensive snow melter they can buy (remember "lowest bid" and "fewer taxes for the rich"?). This is generally calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is caustic - caustic to pavement, caustic to cars and caustic to doggie paws as it does what it is supposed to, suck moisture out of anything in its vicinity. For doggie paws, this can be seriously painful.
We humans wear protective foot gear. Few dogs tolerate booties, but you can try.
Part two of BEWARE OF SALT is applicable to all dogs who play in the snow but especially the little ones whose tummy's are easy magnets for that calcium chloride. As soon as you come home, be sure to towel off your furry one so that a bad tummy won't accompany his next round of self-grooming
2 - BEWARE OF SNOW AND ICE BALLS:
Many have fur growing between their toes. Even in a light dusting, the snow can stick to this fur and the heat of the paw pad melts it to water. Then the water freezes again as it loses heat to the ambient air and snow creating ice-balls between pups toes. As the snow collects, it can compact into sharp, pointy icicles digging and wedging between those toes.
Rachel addresses these problems:
OMG! WHAT TO DO?!?!?
Don't be (too) afraid- be prepared.
a. Always keep a doggy towel by the door.
Even if the weather is perfect, I recommend that owners keep a doggie towel by the door to wipe of bellies and paws.. There is so much gross stuff in the city, it's nice to have your feet wiped when you come in. In the winter it's great to have a warm towel to remove snow and salt.
b. Use jelly or oils:
For extreme temperatures - winter and summer- use a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil on the paw pads. This will seal the pad from the elements and is safe when the pups decide to lick. There is a great product called Mushers Secret that has been developed by arctic snow teams to protect their dogs while running. I use it in summer and winter on pups who have sensitive feet. I have tried it and yes, it really works.
Just make sure there is a towel handy when you come back from your walk to wipe the product off or else your apartment will have oily foot prints -- not fun to clean.
I will have Mushers Secret with me when there is salt, but Vaseline or something similar will do just as well and is much cheaper.
c. Trim paw hair:
Trim paw hair (the hair between the toes) so ice will less likely clump
d. Use booties (if pup allows):
Hehe. Most dogs won't tolerate booties, but they are the best protection. Plus, they are just comical!
Try it and upload pictures and/or videos for all to see.
When you come back from the walk:
DRY YOUR PUP'S FEET & FUR! Wash with warm or lukewarm water if possible. Never use hot water.
An ounce of prevention, a.k.a. using Musher's Secret and a towel, will let the fun of winter shine through without any of the bad stuff.