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Paw Pad Protection & Pet Safe Ice Melter

Dog paw pads are just as vulnerable as human feet. Just as we wouldn't walk across hot pavement or a snow covered field without proper protection on our feet, they shouldn't either. Paw pads that are too dry can crack and bleed. Don't use human lotion on the dogs' pads, it may soften pads too much and lead to more issues. Look into pad moisturizers specifically designed for a dog's dried out paws.

Wintertime Care:
Excessive exposure to cold weather could cause paw pads to dry out. This will lead to pads becoming chapped and cracking. Dry, cracked paws can be extremely painful for your dog and if left untreated, can allow dirt and debris to get into the cracks and cause an infection. Here are a few options to help prevent dry, cracked paws:

  • Boots - If your dog tolerates boots, that is an effective tool to combat dry, cracked paws while outdoors. As some dogs can easily remove boots or do not tolerate them, this is not a universal solution for all dogs.
  • Paw Bomb/Butter - Our salon offers a Paw Pad Rejuvenation Package which re-hydrates and repairs dry, cracked, rough, or damaged paw pads. The whole package which includes a paw scrub and paw bomb is $10. We also offer just the Oatmeal Paw Butter application for $3. Many pet stores also sell versions of paw pad cream.
  • DIY - You can make your own paw pad wax at home using shea or mango butter, coconut oil, olive or sweet almond oil, and beeswax (for detailed instructions, click here: DIY Paw Bomb)
  • Put Vaseline on your dog's paws before a walk, which should keep salt from getting on the pads. Just be sure to still rinse your dog's paw pads afterwards with warm water to wash away any chemical residue

Road and Sidewalk Salt:
Another thing to keep in mind during the long, cold winter months is that lots of people use salt, de-icers and other items to melt ice off of sidewalks. This could be toxic to dogs who like to lick their paws or could even cause burns on their feet. Rock salt will corrode the metal and paint of your car, so just imagine what it will do to living, breathing mammals. Salt lodged in between your dog's pads can heat up to around 170 degrees, which is hot enough to cause burns. Rock salt can also irritate your dog's gastrointestinal system and can even trigger seizures when eaten in large quantities (think about how much dogs lick their irritated paws after walking in salt).

Here are some tips for finding pet safe alternatives:

  • Be weary of ice melt products labeled "Pet Friendly" or "Safer for Pets/Paws", as it's still just rock salt. Because rock salt has jagged edges, they can just round it off and then they label it "safe for pets", when there is no chemical difference and it is still not safe for your dogs. 
  • Before you buy, take the container off the shelf and look at the back label to see if there are any warnings. If you see anything that says "Keep away from children", it's still probably not safe for your pet. If you see warnings that say "causes irritation to eyes, skin, etc." or "harmful if swallowed", it's likely still not safe for your pet. 
  • Keep in mind that a good ice melter may be more costly because the components that go into making it truly safe and melt ice aren't cheap. By mixing cheap chemicals as filler along with salt or other chlorides, manufacturers can say that their product is pet friendly or safer when in reality, it's not much safer.
  • Also keep in mind that even if you use a pet safe product at your home, your neighbors and city may not be. 
  • Look for a salt and chloride free product
Chemicals to be aware of:
  • Chlorides - All of them should be avoided
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) - Toxic and also extracts moisture from the surface
  • Urea - Less toxic and less corrosive than chlorides unless it's not treated or modified (somewhat toxic and a pollutant because of its nitrates)
  • Modified Crystalline Carbonyl Diamide - Safe ingredient that acts like a sponge and has particulates that disrupt the hydrogen bonds
  • Eco Safe Glycol - Can be infused with components that power up its ice melting capabilities, including traction agents and special inhibitors to increase the safety of the product
  • Colorants - Any colorants used should ideally be food grade
Here is a list of suggestions for possible ice melts: Ice Melters
Be cautious as some of them may be labeled as "SAFER" and not "completely safe"


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