Halfway through your walk around the block, your dog lifts up his paw and hobbles on three legs. Then he stops and licks his paw. You coax him to move forward. After twenty feet of walking in fresh snow, he stops limping. Then the cycle repeats after the next salted sidewalk.
Why is your dog limping? Is it the salt irritating his paws? Or the cold snow?
- Some dogs are more sensitive to snow and salt than others. This may have to do with the webbing between their toes, the amount of fur on their pads, and personal tolerance.
- Fresh snow has sharper crystals and may irritate your dog’s paws more than snow that is several days old.
- Cold weather, below 20 degrees causes more irritation to their paws than warmer snow.
- Fresh salt bothers my dog’s paws much more than salt that has been out for a few days.
- Snowballs forming between my dog’s toes cause as much (or more) irritation than salt. These usually form with fresh snow that is near the melting temperature
- Walking on more snow dilutes the salt and my dog stops limping.
Recommendations for walking in residential areas:
- If it is very cold, put booties on your dog.
- Try to use booties that do not collect snow at the top. I recently discovered Pawz rubber boots and loved them. Pawz booties work well on my cocker spaniel who only walks a few blocks. I’m not sure if they would be as effective cross-country skiing in the woods for hours in the deep snow. Booties were always a problem when we took my springer spaniel skiing.
- Only walk in cleared areas. My husband snow blows from one corner to the next to give us a good walking area. The neighbors and the mail carrier love this!
- Avoid roads and sidewalks where there is fresh salt.
- Only do a very short walk until the snow is a day old and not so sharp. Then you can go for long
Before every dog walk, take a minute to plan your route and prepare your dog so that you both enjoy it.
Next week I will discuss pet-friendly (and not so pet friendly) ice melts.
What have you observed when walking your dog in the snow? Do you think about the snow conditions?
Please leave a comment below.
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